Funding Faculty Excellence

Dr. Charles H. Henderson III

Henderson’s series of generous gifts include a scholarship for students at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise that he endowed with his wife, Mary.

Dr. Charles H. Henderson III (BS ’61, Med ’65, ’72) is the kind of person who listens and learns. As the Medical School Foundation’s representative to the University’s Council of Foundations, he heard Locke Ogens, then representing the College Foundation, speak passionately about the pressing need to plan for the generational turnover of faculty as members of the baby boom reach retirement age.

Now that this generational change is upon us, Henderson, a retired radiologist from Harrisonburg, Va., has chosen to act by creating the Endowment for Faculty Excellence in the School of Medicine. His purpose: to give the dean the resources needed to recruit or retain outstanding faculty members. “With every medical school in the country experiencing the same crisis, the competition for the best faculty members is intense,” he said. “I want to help make sure that we can secure the quality of faculty we need.”

Henderson thought carefully about making the fund discretionary. “I didn’t want to lock future deans into any particular course of action,” he said. “I want them to be able to respond to opportunities as they occur.” Resources from the fund can be used for a variety of purposes, including supplementing a salary or supporting a research program. “Dr. Henderson’s commitment to the School is longstanding and heartfelt,” says Dr. Nancy E. Dunlap, dean of the School of Medicine. “The Endowment for Faculty Excellence will give deans the flexibility to act quickly to secure and retain extraordinary faculty members.”

Henderson has another reason for supporting faculty—the multiplier effect. “When you support great faculty members and encourage their commitment to the University, you influence generations of students,” he said.

Henderson values scholarships as well. He is the class agent for the Class of 1965, which is celebrating its 50th reunion next spring by funding a scholarship for a medical school student. The class is also supporting a scholarship in honor of Beth Collins (Med ’65), who left $250,000 in her will to the 1965 Class Fund. In addition, the class plans to endow the white coat ceremony.

Still, for Henderson faculty support is paramount. “Ultimately, an institution’s ability to affect lives depends on the quality of its faculty,” he said.