"Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another."
That quotation, penned by the English writer G.K. Chesterton, seems a most appropriate tribute to the Rev. Terrence Henry, TOR, who we learned earlier this week was preparing to step down as president of the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
The words of Chesterton, who lived from May 29, 1874, through June 14, 1936, ring true on a couple of levels. First, because they speak of Henry's work at the university, and, second, because as any student or anyone who has attended an event at the school during the past 12 years will attest to, Chesterton is Henry's favorite author and the Franciscan friar always works a quotation into every presentation.
Henry, who will remain as president though the end of the academic year in May, has overseen plenty of growth during his tenure. He embraced the creation of the commuter grant program, which offers a 50 percent tuition discount for local high school seniors who enroll directly to the university. He oversaw the school's re-entry into intercollegiate athletics on the NCAA Division III level in 2007. Under his watch, the university's purchase of adjacent properties helped its campus double in size to 242 acres, and the school's enrollment grew by 389 students.
Those accomplishments will ensure the school is in good hands when the next president is selected from among the 139 members of the Franciscan Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
While academics are important to Henry, he never forgot his calling as a priest, never shying away from battling what he calls the "culture of death." Each year, he has led students, faculty and staff members to Washington, D.C., to participate in the March for Life.
Henry, who followed the Rev. Michael Scanlan, TOR, as the university's president, has earned the praise of students at the school, residents of the Tri-State Area and his peers in education and the priesthood. Our thoughts, we're sure, can best be summed up by another quotation from Chesterton:
"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."