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Henry, Edward L. Papers

Identifier: MC05

Scope and Contents

Collection includes public addresses, class notes, correspondence, newspaper articles, personal documents, photographs, authored articles, and other associated documents.


  • 1934 - 2000


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to all members of the public, except for the correspondence between Ed and Betty Henry. Access to these letters has been restricted to members of the Henry family and to those with permission from the Henry family.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Edward L. Henry developed and chaired SJU's emerging political science department for 17 years, from 1954- 1971, and was later vice president and founder of the university's Development department from 1974-1976.

A 1943 SJU graduate, Henry had a prolific and distinguished record in education, public service, journalism, business and the military. In addition to his tenure as professor and vice president at SJU, he served as chief executive at four higher education institutions, was mayor of St. Cloud for seven years, and headed a variety of state organizations and associations in Minnesota and Vermont.

In addition to developing and chairing the university's emerging political science department, he launched a foundation-funded honors program between Saint John's, the College of Saint Benedict and St. Cloud State University (the first cooperative effort between these three institutions) and, with funds from a Ford Foundation grant, founded the first small-city research center in the nation, the Center for the Study of Local Government, which operated at Saint John's from 1968-1979. Henry was named a Distinguished Service Professor in 1975.

While a professor at SJU, Henry was elected mayor of St. Cloud for two terms from 1964-71. He launched the city on a vigorous program of civic renewal that brought it All-American City status in 1973. He led a successful fight against the state's largest utility to impose a franchise tax on St. Cloud and another to protect the city water supply. Social concerns led his administration to launch the first elderly and low-income housing program in rural Minnesota, to set up the still active St. Cloud Housing Authority and to found Tri-Cap, the first multi-jurisdictional anti-poverty program in rural America, still active as of this writing. St. Cloud Mayor John Ellenbecker declared Friday, Sept. 30, 2005, as Ed Henry Day in St. Cloud.

Henry's career at SJU paused in 1972, while he began another career as president of St. Mary's College, Notre Dame from 1972-74, at a time when this college was suffering declining enrollments and budget deficits. Under his leadership, it recovered fully and began receiving consistently high marks in national college rankings.

Henry returned to SJU to a position as vice president and founder of the university's Development department. Two years later, he went on to become president of St. Michael's College, a Catholic college in Vermont, which was in financial difficulty. During his nine-year tenure there, from 1976-85, St. Michael's not only returned to financial health, it also improved its academic quality, attracted national attention as a model liberal arts college and won several national awards.

Henry retired in 1985 to pursue a consulting career but soon left retirement to become president of Marian College in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, from 1986-89. As a result of his leadership, the ailing institution re-established itself. Just two years after his departure, it had become the fastest growing college in Wisconsin. His last stint as college president was for Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina from 1989-90, where he served as interim president.

Henry received his graduate education at Harvard Business School and the University of Chicago (masters, MBA and doctorate). He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1943-46, where his ship, the USS Kretchmer DE 329, was awarded a Navy citation for rescuing British and American prisoners of war from Formosa. He received an Alumni Achievement Award from SJU and a Presidential Citation from CSB. He published two books and countless articles on education, community development and politics, and appeared frequently on television. He held a dozen citations and honorary degrees, including citations from the governors of Minnesota and Vermont.

Ed Henry died September 30, 2010. He and his wife of 57 years, Betty (1923-2004), an alumna of CSB, had nine children.


7 Cubic Feet (15 standard + 2 oversized archival boxes)

Language of Materials


Henry, Edward L., 1921-2010 Papers, 1934-2000
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Saint John's University Archives and Special Collections Repository

P O Box 2500
Alcuin Library
Collegeville Minnesota 56321 United States