A Tribute to Developments Columnist Robert M. Hendrickson

A Tribute to Developments Columnist Robert M. Hendrickson

Jason Lane
State University of New York, Albany
Jeffrey Sun
University of North Dakota

Robert M. Hendrickson, or “Bob” as many of us know him, started writing the Legal Issues column for ACPA Developments in the early 1990s.  For the last twenty years he has provided student affairs practitioners with insights and explanations of how the courts have defined the legal rights and responsibilities of students and offered sage advice to administrators.  He writes his last column in this issue of ACPA Developments; turning his pen over to the next generation of legal scholars, he plans to spend time with his family, and most importantly his grandchildren, whom he cherishes.

Bob has had a long and distinguished career as a scholar and an administrator.  He grew up in North Dakota and will commonly regale anyone around him with stories from the stoic state.  He earned a bachelor degree in zoology from North Dakota State University and graduate degrees in higher education and student personnel (with minors in law and business/sociology) from Indiana University.  His academic knowledge was augmented by his significant professional experiences.  He previously worked as a residence hall director and assistant dean of students at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, later serving as an assistant dean of students at Northwestern University. He began his faculty career as an associate professor at Montana State University then joined the faculty at the University of Virginia.

In 1984, Bob discovered his new home – State College, Pennsylvania.  He joined the faculty at Penn State, falling in love with the people and the local region. It would be the place he would spend the rest of his career.  Over the course of the last three decades, he served as the Professor-in-Charge of the nationally ranked program higher education program; head of the department of educational leadership and policy, and associate dean of the Penn State’s College of Education. Of course, his leadership skills are in high demand, so even after stepping down from the associate deanship two years ago with the hopes of returning to the faculty, the College called him back to service as the interim director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education.

Throughout Bob’s career as an academic administrator, he remained active in the Association for the Study of Higher Education and the Educational Law Association.  He also published numerous articles on legal issues in higher education. His most well-known publication is The Colleges, Their Constituencies, and the Courts, published in 1991 and 1999.  This book served as the primary legal resource for many higher education law classes and as a handy reference guide for practitioners.  As he brings his career to a close, he offers one more book to capture lessons learned as a former administrator with: The Handbook of Academic Administration (Stylus Press), which he is co-authoring with three of his former students.

Regardless of how busy Bob might have been, he always had time for his students.  He directed many doctoral dissertations, several of which won outstanding dissertation awards. His former students have gone on to serve in faculty and administrative positions throughout the United States and in foreign countries; several are presidents of colleges and universities.   He is more than an advisor; he is a mentor, a colleague, and a friend.  He is the person who always has a smile and is willing to share a laugh. And, he has left an indelible mark on all he associated with over the course of his career.  He has been a positive and lasting influence on the field of higher education, on Penn State, on his students, and on his readers.

Bob, we wish you all the best with your retirement and we look forward to hearing your many more stories as you spend time with your family and friends.  We will miss you, but we will never forget you.

Dr. Robert Hendrickson is a Professor of Education in Higher Education and Director and Senior Scientist in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Hendrickson holds an Ed.D. in higher education with a minor in law from Indiana University. His research and teaching interests include legal issues, organizational theory administration and governance, and faculty employment issues. He has published a number of articles, monographs and books. For the past 6 1/2 years he served as Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, Research & Faculty Development within the College of Education. During his tenure as Associate Dean, six graduate programs were ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. News rankings and research awards grew from $4 million in 2001 to $18 million in 2007. Prior positions include Head of the Department of Education Policy Studies for eight years and Professor-in-Charge of the Higher Education Program for nine.

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