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Past SMC president dies at 89

Observer Staff Report | Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Former president of Saint Mary’s College Dr. Edward L. Henry died Sept. 30. He was 89.

Henry was the first male lay president to lead at Saint Mary’s, serving from 1972-74.

He took the position after an attempted merger between Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame fell through, and the future of the Saint Mary’s looked uncertain, according to a 1972 South Bend Tribune article.

When Henry took over at Saint Mary’s, the College was set to lose over $600,000 because of the failed merger, the article said.

“Dr. Edward L. Henry, Saint Mary’s new president, is counting on unprecedented student recruitment, fund drives, plus a nudge from Women’s Lib to pump life back into the faltering campus,” the article said.

During that time, Notre Dame also began admitting women, which hurt Saint Mary’s enrollment.

An edition of Michiana — a weekly magazine that was distributed in South Bend at the time — said when Henry stepped down in 1974, Saint Mary’s enrollment was up by 150 percent since he entered office.

“The scholastic average at Saint Mary’s is above the level prevailing before the merger attempt even though the school has lost some of the very top girl students to Notre Dame,” the Michiana article said.

Henry resigned from his position as president in January of 1974.

“My timetable for those areas over which I could exercise influence is running ahead of itself. My commitments to the College, I feel, have been more than fulfilled,” Henry said in a 1974 press release from the College.

Before coming to Saint Mary’s, Henry served as mayor of St. Cloud, Minn. from 1964 to 1971, professor and vice president at St. John’s University and president of St. Michael’s College, Marian College and Wisconsin and Belmont Abbey.

Henry was born in 1921 in St. Cloud, Minn. He graduated from Saint John’s University and went to graduate school at Harvard University and the University of Chicago.

Henry also served as a naval officer during World War II.

Saint Mary’s current president, Carol Ann Mooney, expressed her regret over Henry’s passing in a press release.

“Ed Henry became president of Saint Mary’s at a pivotal time in our history,” Mooney said. “We are grateful for his strong leadership and send our condolences to his family.”