Henderson State University was founded in 1890 as Arkadelphia Methodist College – named for the town of Arkadelphia, a portmanteau combining the “Ark” of Arkansas with the Greek “delphia,” meaning “brotherhood” (as in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love). The “Brotherhood of Arkansas” would be a rough translation, and a good description of Henderson State’s philosophy, which focuses on providing for the people of Arkansas. Renamed for benefactor Christopher Henderson in 1904, HSU nearly went under before it was saved by the state and turned into a teacher’s college in 1929. Today, Henderson State is Arkansas’s most accomplished public liberal arts college, and the state’s only member in the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.
Henderson State is admired as Arkansas’s foremost public liberal arts institution, and undergraduate learning is still central to HSU’s curriculum. Of nearly 4000 students, more than 3500 are traditional undergraduates, and more than 40 different bachelor’s degree are offered from four colleges and schools. Since HSU was brought under state control for teacher education, the Teachers College, Henderson, remains one of Arkansas’s most prestigious institutions for teacher education. The Teachers College is a comprehensive school, offering degrees from the bachelor’s and master’s level, as well as an Education Specialist program that sets the stage for an Ed.D. (doctor of education) from HSU partner the University of Arkansas.
The Ellis College of Arts and Sciences is the home of most of the university’s majors, from biology to literature, while the School of Business and Honors College provide for pre-professional and exceptional students. Henderson State’s growing slate of graduate programs are earning widespread attention as well, as the Graduate School offers 11 graduate degrees. HSU has also developed a number of fully online master’s degrees in recent years, including Education Leadership, Developmental Therapy, and the MBA. These growing programs are helping Henderson State meet Arkansas’s students where they have the most need.
Located in downtown Arkadelphia, Henderson State is central to life in the town, from community service to educational outreach and continuing ed. In a town of just 10,000 residents, HSU’s 4000 students are an integrated part of life. Of Henderson State’s student body, more than 80% come from Arkansas, with 28 other states represented. A 16:1 student:faculty ratio helps students to find connection with their instructors and with each other, and a small, close-knit student body gives students a strong feeling of support. Just under half the student body lives in on-campus residence.
Henderson State’s Division II athletic teams, the Reds (or, more commonly, Reddies) are named for the color of their uniforms – no mascot needed. Each year since 1895, the Reddies compete in the second division’s oldest rivalry game, the Battle of the Ravine, against Ouachita Baptist University; both schools consider their annual matchup to be their homecoming game. The Reddies are supported by Arkansas’s most decorated and admired marching band, the Showband of Arkansas, known throughout the state and the nation for their appearances in competitions, parades, and games.