Henley’s legacy: enhancing student life

Chancellor Michael Amiridis; Barbara Henley

Chancellor Michael Amiridis celebrates with Barbara Henley at her retirement party Aug. 26. ­(Photo Vibhu S. Rangavasan)

For the past two decades, Barbara Henley — the university’s longest-serving vice chancellor — has made significant contributions to create a better UIC for students. So during her last few weeks as vice chancellor for student affairs, Henley was celebrated by the community she empowered.

“Barbara has been a passionate advocate for UIC and its students, working tirelessly to enhance the student experience and provide a welcoming, supportive and stimulating learning environment,” Chancellor Michael Amiridis said in an official announcement about Henley’s retirement, which was effective Aug. 31.

Amiridis spotlighted Henley’s involvement in campus renovations and the creation of new facilities, such as residence halls, recreation centers, lounges, offices, gathering spaces for student organizations, the UIC Forum, the Commuter Student Resource Center and the Student Veterans Resource Center. Henley also led initiatives that created new programs and traditions on campus, such as UIC Impact.

“I want to thank Barbara for her leadership and congratulate her on her many accomplishments. She will be greatly missed,” Amiridis said.

Henley, a UIC alumna, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history. She’s a licensed clinical psychologist who earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in counselor education from Ohio State University. She was the vice president of student affairs at Northern Illinois University and professor of counseling at Chicago State University before joining UIC in 1996, when she was appointed associate professor of policy studies for the College of Education and vice chancellor for student affairs.

“I feel a sense of accomplishment,” said Henley about her time at the university. “I was honored to work with five chancellors to achieve a number of goals that benefitted our students, so it feels great to have served for so long.”

Student affairs held an official retirement celebration for Henley Aug. 26, which included cake and a thank you video, including a message from Major League Baseball All-Star and UIC alumnus Curtis Granderson. The women’s basketball team, students, alumni, staff and university leaders were in attendance to thank the vice chancellor emerita for the time she dedicated to students and the university.

“It was a wonderful event,” she said. “There’s a part [of me] that doesn’t want to leave, then there’s a part that looks forward and into the next chapter.”

She already has big plans for retirement: to read less emails. She laughed before sharing her desire to travel, read books for pleasure and decide what to do professionally going forward. She might consult selectively, have a part-time private practice, “or I might open a bakery because I love good desserts,” she said.

But she also looks forward to seeing the great things that UIC’s community and leadership will achieve.

“My hope for UIC is that there will continue to be an increase in the value of a UIC degree, through highly ranked academic programs, first-class facilities and new discoveries that will benefit humanity and society,” she said.

Pending approval of the Board of Trustees, J. Rex Tolliver, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and director of Campus Auxiliary Services, will serve as interim vice chancellor for student affairs.

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