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OU Professor Emeritus George Henderson to Receive Two Prestigious Oklahoma Awards

Noted OU professor will receive the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book and the Glenn Snider Human Relations Award from the Oklahoma Education Association.

George Henderson




NORMAN – George Henderson, Ph.D., distinguished University of Oklahoma professor emeritus and founder of OU’s Department of Human Relations, will be honored this spring with awards from two Oklahoma organizations.

A prolific author, Henderson will receive the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book on April 8. The award is given annually to one Oklahoman for an outstanding body of literary work. Its namesake, Arrell Gibson, was a well-regarded Oklahoma historian and OU professor.

“There is no doubt that Dr. Henderson has been a trailblazer in his field, and his research and writings on human relations, cultural diversity, and the neglected and displaced in our society have had profound influences across the nation,” said Connie Armstrong, executive director of the Oklahoma Center for the Book in the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. “It is our privilege to present this honor to Dr. Henderson.”

In addition, Henderson will be honored May 5 with the Glenn Snider Human Relations Award from the Oklahoma Education Association. A leading scholar in the field of human relations, Henderson designed OU’s original curriculum in the discipline nearly 50 years ago. The award is given to those “who have exemplified the practice of effective human relations and concerns for human rights.”

“Dr. Henderson represents the true spirit of the Glenn Snider Human Relations Award,” said Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association. “His work in human and civil rights has benefitted generations of students at OU, our state and nation.”

Henderson is an Oklahoma civil rights icon whose career at the University of Oklahoma spans half a century. A trailblazer for equal opportunity, he and his wife, Barbara, were the first African-American homeowners in the city of Norman. When Henderson joined the OU faculty in 1967, he became the third African-American faculty member on the Norman campus. The professor emeritus of human relations, education and sociology achieved several other “firsts” during his OU tenure, including selection as the first African-American dean of a degree-granting college on the Norman campus when he was chosen to head the College of Liberal Studies and as the first African-American professor in the state to occupy an endowed chair when he was appointed S.N. Goldman Professor of Human Relations. Henderson also founded and served as chair of the Department of Human Relations at OU.

Although he retired from the university in 2006, he continues to teach on a part-time basis. Henderson garnered more than 50 university and community awards and honors during his time at OU, including, in 2011, the university’s highest honor, the Doctor of Humane Letters. The Henderson-Tolson Cultural Center and Henderson Scholars Program at OU bear his name, and students continue to benefit from his mentorship. He is a sought-after speaker and consultant who has mentored generations of civil rights leaders in Oklahoma and across the country.

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