Northwestern State University’s Student Government Association unveiled a special monument to honor former university president Dr. Jim Henderson Friday.
Following Henderson’s induction into NSU’s Long Purple Line, the university’s alumni hall of distinction, SGA President John Pearce of Livonia and former NSU first lady Tonia Henderson unveiled a bust of Dante Alighieri, the Italian scholar, philosopher and poet of the late Middle Ages who is much admired by Henderson. The bust and a bench named for Dr. and Mrs. Henderson, both NSU alumni, were placed in front of the NSU Student Union in the heart of campus.
The bust of Dante includes a quote from “The Divine Comedy” that reads “Be as a tower that, firmly set, shakes not its top for any blast that blows.”
Henderson, who served as NSU’s president for two years, often drew correlations between Dante’s work and references to NSU, such as the Demon Inferno and the quote “Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch’entrate (Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.).” He also noted that Dante’s use of Italian vernacular, rather than Latin, made his work accessible to individuals outside the upper classes and academia.
The installation was cast by NSU Professor of Art Corbin Covher in a project coordinated by SGA Advisor Shayne Creppel.
During his short but productive tenure at NSU, Henderson developed a strong rapport with students through personal accessibility and social media. He began service at president of the University of Louisiana System on January 1, leading nine state institutions and more than 90,000 students.