This story appears in the summer 2015 issue of 360: The Magazine of San Diego State University.
Stuart Henry not only advises his San Diego State students to “become extraordinary,” he’s also given them the means to do so.
A $410,000 endowment from Henry and his wife, Lee, will benefit students in the School of Public Affairs, where he is director. Interest from the endowment will support student research, enable students to attend professional conferences and subsidize study abroad experiences.
Henry understands the struggles of economically disadvantaged students. The son of a chef and a waitress, he grew up in a working-class London neighborhood and never thought of attending university. When a high school teacher encouraged him to apply, Henry’s father scoffed, but not his mother, Doris.
He chose the University of Kent and a subject relevant to his urban upbringing — the sociology of criminal deviance, in which he eventually earned a Ph.D. and published a version of his thesis as “The Hidden Economy.”
“Mine was the first book ever published on the hidden economy, which arose out of social support networks in urban communities,” Henry said. “People stuck in menial jobs became part of a vast network of trade in pilfered goods. It was not about making money, but helping each other get by.”
Eventually, Henry moved to the United States. When his mother passed away in 2014, he and Lee were stunned to discover that Doris had left a sizeable inheritance, accumulated by investing whatever small amounts she could save. They decided to create an endowment for the School of Public Affairs in Doris’ memory.
The gift adds a financial component to the academic legacy Henry has already established at SDSU as teacher, mentor and administrator. He has received both the University Honors College Award for the most outstanding faculty member and the James Kitchen Distinguished Service Award from SDSU Student Affairs.