Dr. Donald M. Henderson

Donald M. Henderson, who served as the University of Pittsburgh's first Black provost from 1989-1993, advocated for advancements and opportunities that improved the University — and embodied triumph over challenge.

Henderson, who retired to Florida, died June 8 from medical complications associated with congestive heart failure. He was 91.

Not only did he transform the University of Pittsburgh and help it become a more just institution, but he also transformed lives. Henderson’s achievements at the University included being involved in the Campus of the Future initiative with AT&T, which led to the installation of Pitt’s first fiber network; consolidating several libraries into the University Library System; organizing and hosting Nelson Mandela’s visit to Pitt. He also was a champion of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and educated and graduated people with the intelligence and capacity to better our world.

These featured “Donald’s Doodles” are a select few from Henderson’s collection, compiled by his executive assistant during his time at the University. We share them because they spotlight one impressive aspect of the brilliant visionary, game-changer, and artist Henderson was and reflect precisely the kind of artist and human we hope to be. His creativity flowed freely through his written word and sketches; the latter shows just how ahead of his time he was.