James Henderson Named 18th President of Northwestern State University

Baton Rouge, La. – James Henderson was unanimously named the 18th President of Northwestern State University today by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System.  Currently serving as Chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC), Henderson will begin his leadership term on Jan. 1, 2015.

“We are honored, moved, and humbled at this opportunity to engage this wonderful institution in a new relationship.  Northwestern has 130 years of rich tradition and heritage, and its best days are to come,” said Henderson.  “I look forward to working with the faculty, staff, students and community as we make Northwestern the premier regional university in the South.”

Henderson is a Northwestern State alumnus as is his wife Tonia. He earned a Master of Science in Administration from the University of West Florida and a Doctor of Management from the University of Maryland – University College.

He has been Chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College since 2009. In that time, BPCC has grown enrollment by more than 84 percent and increased annual certificate and degree completions by 90 percent. From 2011-13, BPCC was among the five fastest growing community colleges in the nation with enrollments of between 5,000 and 9,999. 

Under Henderson’s leadership, the college created market responsive programs in nursing, oil and gas technology, construction management, industrial technology and engineering. Instrumental in luring Benteler Steel/Tube of Germany to Shreveport/Bossier, Henderson currently serves as Chairman of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of Step Forward, and is a member of numerous local and statewide boards. 

“I think the Board today chose an extraordinary and visionary leader for Northwestern State, and the benefits of his leadership will extend well beyond Natchitoches to the UL System and the state,” said UL System President Sandra K. Woodley.

Henderson was senior vice president, workforce and economic development/career & technical education for the Louisiana Community & Technical College System from 2005 to 2009. He served as appointing authority and chief executive officer of the LCTCS comprised of eight regional technical colleges serving more than 26,000 students. Under his leadership, the statewide technical college system with 42 individually accredited campuses was transitioned into eight regionally accredited technical colleges.

During Henderson’s tenure, LCTCS enrollment grew by 98 percent and helped obtain more than $65 million in grants, appropriations and private funding to enhance workforce development. In partnership with Louisiana Economic Development, Henderson helped create Louisiana FastStart, the nation’s top-ranked state workforce training program.

During his interview with the Board, Henderson said he will have a collaborative and strategic approach.

“The first 100 days is really just laying the foundation for the next 1,000 days.  If I was to go to Northwestern on Day 1 with a strategic plan 85 percent of it would be off target, but I can come with a strategic approach.  There are people there that believe deeply in what the institution can be.  Finding ways for those ideas to come forward and be implemented will be one of my first priorities,” said Henderson. 

From 2001 to 2005, he was director of administration and director of workforce development for the Louisiana Department of Labor.

Henderson was in the private sector for 10 years in hotel management. He worked for Mississippi Management, Inc., Kemmons Wilson Companies and Ryco Management, playing a leadership role as each company achieved record growth in profitability.

Henderson’s selection was the culmination of a five-month search that yielded 41 applications, 12 candidates, four semifinalists, and two finalists.  For more information about the search process, visit www.ulsystem.edu/NorthwesternSearch

“I would like to thank the Board and the Northwestern Presidential Search Committee for its inclusivity throughout this process,” said Board Chair E.G. “T-Boy” Hebert.  “I also want to thank the Demon Nation – you have a passion that abounds.”


ABOUT NORTHWESTERN STATE: Founded in 1884, Northwestern State University is classified by Carnegie as a Master’s Large University and by the Southern Regional Education Board as a Four-Year 4 institution, enrolling almost 9,000 students in over 50 degree programs.  In addition to the main campus in Natchitoches, the University has facilities in Leesville and Shreveport and offers instruction at other centers in central Louisiana.

ABOUT THE UL SYSTEM: The University of Louisiana System is the largest higher education system in Louisiana enrolling about 90,000 students at Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and the University of New Orleans.