History of Henderson State University

Henderson State University in Arkadelphia has a unique history that dates back to its founding in March of 1890 when it was incorporated as Arkadelphia Methodist College. The college opened in September of that year with over 100 students and 10 faculty members. In 1905, the name was changed to Henderson College to honor Charles Christopher Henderson, a trustee and prominent businessman of Arkadelphia. In 1911, the name was amended to Henderson-Brown College to honor Walter William Brown, who was also a trustee. Of the nine Arkansas public universities, Henderson is the only one that has been controlled by both Church and State and is the only one named for an individual. Henderson is one of only two Arkansas public universities originally established as a four-year, degree-conferring institution.

From its founding in 1890 until 1925, the College also operated an academy which provided instruction for local students desiring high school courses and for those who were not prepared to enter into college.

In 1929, a proposal was made to merge Henderson-Brown and its sister institution, Hendrix College, in Little Rock. However, after efforts from local residents and political and religious leaders of south Arkansas, the institution was offered to the state to establish a teachers college in Arkadelphia. Henderson State Teachers College would change to Henderson State College in 1967, and finally to Henderson State University in 1975.

In 1951, Henderson became a graduate center for the University of Arkansas and, in 1955, instituted its own graduate program. The University now offers graduate degrees in three areas of study.

Since its founding, Henderson has occupied a position of educational leadership. Students and alumni have achieved national and international recognition, including Rhodes, Fulbright, and Rotary International Scholarships. Henderson’s rich and storied tradition continues to grow.