North Central College - Naperville, IL

Jean M. Oliver Henning

Class Year: 

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2005

"Professor's kid" ... alumna ... coach's wife ... and now 2005 Outstanding Alumna Award recipient. At Homecoming, Jean M. Oliver '41 Henning condensed a lifetime of North Central memories into a personal and emotional recount of her many years at the College.

The daughter of Professor of Speech Emeritus Guy Eugene Oliver, she fondly remembered her campus upbringing as a "P.K.," culminating with her own North Central degree, teaching career and happy marriage to the late Dr. Harold W. Henning '41. (An Olympic swimming coach, Henning is a member of North Central's Athletic Hall of Fame; he received the College's Outstanding Alumni Award in 1963.)

"I grew up along with the College," said Henning, who recalled watching the construction of both Merner Field House (1930) and Pfeiffer Hall (1926) and looking into the fiery blaze the night Nichols Gymnasium burnt down (1929). "Our home was always filled with North Central students and faculty .... Because my father was in broadcasting, he brought home the first television in Naperville."

Henning is an internationally published writer whose articles and poetry have appeared in various magazines. She also published three books: A Sports Odyssey: Journal of an Olympic Wife, Six Days to Swim and Naper Scenes-Poetry of Naperville.

Her athletic prowess in the water has included diving, water ballet, swimming and water walking. She also established the Henning Library at the International Swimming Hall of Fame, the world's aquatic sports library in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

A member of North Central's 1861 Society, which recognizes cumulative lifetime gifts of $1 million or more, and a longtime donor to WONC-FM 89.1 broadcasting facilities in Oliver Hall, Henning also supports two College scholarships: the Dr. Harold W. Henning Scholarship, for students anticipating a career in dentistry or medicine, and The Guy Oliver Scholarship Fund.

She divides her time between Naperville and Marco Island, Fla. Henning has two children, Ronald and Susan Henning '78 Tansley.