Celebrating the Contributions of Deans Arnold Henderson and Donna Friedman

Julie Norman, Senior Associate Dean and Director, UAAP

[Editors note: This is an excerpt from Julie Norman’s comments at the retirement party for Arnold Henderson and Donna Friedman. Arnold Henderson is an Associate Dean in Student Support Services and retiring after 28 years at MIT. Donna Friedman is an Associate Dean in UAAP and is also retiring after 28 years at MIT. Good luck to both of you!]

I want to welcome everyone to the celebration of Donna Friedman and Arnold Henderson’s long and distinguished careers at MIT.  When they depart this month, 56 years of collective history and knowledge leaves with them. While, as you will hear more about each individually, I want to set the stage by describing Donna and Arnold as true “Student Deans”.  Their lives and careers have been focused on aiding young adults to personally grow and academically succeed.  Legions of MIT students and alumni have flourished under their guidance and support.

Donna FriedmanDonna is famous, or maybe infamous, for being the source of all knowledge with respect to advising and the GIRs (general Institute requirements).  If one does not know something, everyone knows to “call Donna”.  Donna acknowledges not being good at recognizing faces, but her memory is that proverbial steel trap.  Any alum, 20 years out, knows Donna remembers them when she describes in detail their entire MIT experience, highs and lows, and pronounces how wonderful they are and proud she is of what they have accomplished.  In return, they remember “the waggle”, her advice and her dogged determination to help them succeed.  Donna’s legacy will forever be those multitudes of students and alumni who, at some point, doubted themselves, but always knew one person believed in them at their lowest and saw them through to the end.

Arnold HendersonStaff have estimated some fun facts about you, Arnold.  Over your career, you took 42,000 appointments with students; spent 5376 evenings working late; consumed 10,920 cups of coffee; listened to 33,610 jazz songs in your office; and made 4,032 recommendations of movies or music to students and colleagues.  Of course, the coffee kept you alert and the music soothed your soul as you supported students through life’s crises.  An undeterminable number of students were advised, counseled and mentored, term after term, by you as they worked their way through difficult personal and family situations.  There is the Rock of Gibraltar and then there is the Pillar of MIT.  A stalwart, unfaltering and resolute man determined and committed to listen, comfort and assist students in addressing and solving their challenges.  Arnold, it is approximated that you advocated for 560 individuals who were readmitted to MIT.  They stopped, restarted, maybe repeated that pattern, but in the end, persisted and succeeded; with you quietly in the shadows reassuring they could do it.

Thank you to Donna and Arnold for all of their contributions, for being fun and interesting colleagues.  Congratulations on your distinguished MIT careers.  We wish you the best as you move into this next phase of your lives.