Manchester University / Alumni / MU Alumni News / Newsletter Archives / @manchester Newsletter July 2020 / Jane Henney ’69 honors parents with Education Department name 

Jane Henney ’69 honors parents with Education Department name

Harry-and-Jeanette-Henney-croppedHarry ’35 and Jeanette Henney

Jane-Henney-and-Bob-GrahamDr. Jane Henney ’69 and Dr. Robert Graham

Dr. Jane Henney ’69 can’t begin to count the ways her parents, Harry ’35 and Jeanette Henney, demonstrated their belief in education.

But there was one way in particular that she’ll never forget – when her mother gave everything to help Jane become a physician. 

Jane was a senior biology major at Manchester when she was accepted to Indiana University School of Medicine. She was elated. Her parents were proud. There was only one problem: Jane didn’t have the money for tuition, room and board.

“It was Mom who emptied her funds – saved for a rainy day – and told me she would see that I was able to go,” Dr. Henney recalls.

“I told her that I would pay her back, and I did, at least the sum of money,” Henney added. “But in many ways, no amount will ever be sufficient to repay what both my mom and dad provided: a strong set of values, a work ethic, a desire to serve and a commitment to the community.”

Harry Henney died in 2007 and Jeanette followed in 2013. Their legacy will live in perpetuity as the Harry H. Henney ’35 and Jeanette Henney Department of Education and its accompanying endowment, made possible by a gift last year from Dr. Henney and her spouse Dr. Robert Graham.

“This is a game changer,” said Professor Heather Schilling ’90, director of MU’s Teacher Education Program at the naming dedication ceremony in September. “Dr. Henney is exponentially increasing the impact of our program,” added Schilling. “Her vision and belief in the work that we do empowers education majors, and her gift allows our program to consider opportunities we could not previously afford.”

Schilling says the Henney endowment will provide education students with more opportunities for research and off-campus learning. It also will enable the department to collaborate with exemplary classrooms, and explore issues in education such as ethics, social justice and civil rights.

“The Education Department at Manchester has a long legacy and rich history,” according to President Dave McFadden ’82, and it is the second Manchester department that Drs. Henney and Graham have named. Several years ago, their generosity provided the Dr. R. Emerson and Evelyn M. Niswander Department of Biology in honor of Dr. Henney’s teacher and friend.

After graduating from the Indiana University School of Medicine, Henney went on to a career that included serving as FDA commissioner, leading two Academic Health Centers at the University of New Mexico and the University of Cincinnati, and a nine-year stint at the National Cancer Institute where she served in many positions, including deputy director.

Harry Henney was an educator for 40 years, teaching business and science and serving as both assistant principal and principal, primarily at Woodburn, later Woodlan High School in Woodburn, Ind. As the third of nine children, Jeanette Henney dreamed of becoming a teacher but the Great Depression left her farm family without the resources to send her to college. She went to business school instead, becoming a professional secretary and working for many years in the East Allen County Schools.

In myriad ways, says their daughter, “their lives were about teaching beyond the classroom,” serving their community and setting examples of integrity, doing your best and respecting others. “At the core, they were educating everybody about what it was like to live a good life,” says Dr. Henney. “I think that’s what good educators do.”

Just as Jeanette Henney grew up at a time when not many women went to college, Jane Henney was in college when not many women went to medical school. Her mother’s disappointment made a deep impression.

“She loved going to school. She loved great literature. She loved great music. She was just one of those sponges that absorbed anything that she read,” says Dr. Henney. “We knew how badly Mom had wanted to go to college,” adds Henney, of the family that includes her older sister, Anne Hansen, and two younger brothers, Floyd Henney and Dr. Frederic Henney ’76.

When it became clear that college was not in the cards for her, Henney says her mother, “redirected her dream to her children. None of us had any doubt that she would do anything possible to see that we had that opportunity. She did a lot of sacrificing to make that happen.”

As for her father, Henney said she didn’t realize the impact he had as an educator until he died. People were lined up outside for his funeral and, when the doors opened, the church filled. The service was joyful, she added, because people shared stories about the impact Harry Henney had had on their lives. “That’s when I thought – be a teacher – in the classroom and community – and people will come.”

By Melinda Lantz ’81