Mission & History
When you look back at the history of Henderson State one thing will become very clear, very quickly—we’ve always played by our own set of rules.
Founded in 1890 as Arkadelphia Methodist College, we are the only one of Arkansas’s nine public universities that is now named for an individual—Charles Christopher Henderson, a Trustee and prominent Arkadelphia businessman. We are one of only two originally established as a four-year, degree-conferring institution; and we’re the second oldest state university in Arkansas.
Henderson’s first class included 110 students, who were taught by 10 faculty members. From 1929 to 1967 the university was known as Henderson State Teachers College, which is one reason our education programs are among the most respected in the region to this day.
Throughout our history, throughout the six different names under which we have operated, and throughout the tenures of the 15 presidents who have guided Henderson, our mission and goal has remained steadfast… to provide the best possible university education throughout Arkansas and beyond. To learn more about our history, visit the University Archives.
Henderson State University is Arkansas’s public liberal arts university. True to the century-long tradition that has distinguished Henderson since its founding, the university remains dedicated to providing excellent undergraduate curricula and graduate programs. Henderson, a Southern regional institution with a diverse student body, advocates a program based on the liberal arts, regardless of specific educational interests. Through a common core of courses in arts and sciences, as well as through the more specialized curricula, the university fosters the maximum growth and development of each student. More specifically, Henderson endeavors to provide an education that will nurture in each student the capacity:
To think logically and critically;
To speak and write effectively;
To appreciate the complexity and diversity of world cultures;
To understand the physical universe;
To participate as a concerned, intelligent citizen;
To acquire mastery of a particular field of study;
To mature intellectually, emotionally, and physically; and
To discern appropriate uses of technology.
Henderson’s primary mission is to excel in undergraduate education, always striving to enrich the quality of learning and teaching. In pursuit of this goal, the university seeks a culturally rich and diverse student community, actively recruiting, challenging, supporting, and motivating students to achieve academic success. Quality in education is fostered not only by positively motivated student body, but also by a faculty and staff distinguished for their continuing commitment to excellence. University care and concern, positive student response, small class sizes, and a personal friendly atmosphere—these characteristics are the heart of Henderson.
The university encourages excellence and supports scholarly and creative endeavors on the part of both its faculty and students. These endeavors form the foundation upon which Henderson builds appropriate programs in response to the needs of various communities that it serves. In close concert with these communities, Henderson applies its expertise to develop those programs that will promote the preservation and improvement of the quality of life in Arkansas.