In memory of Bob Henderson
University Times (Republished with permission)
VOLUME 29 NUMBER 1 AUGUST 29, 1996
Copyright (c) 1996, University of Pittsburgh
Robert T. Henderson, the director of our Language Acquisition
Institute and the president of the International Association
for Learning Laboratories, was shamefully murdered sometime between
July 12 and July 16 in Hawaii. The telephone in our house did
not stop ringing for days as his friends called to share their
feelings of incredible shock and emptiness, for the news of his
death was as unexpected, intimate and personal as a sucker punch
in the gut. Upon hearing of it, one had to sit down suddenly
and breathe deeply until the world came back into focus.
He was my friend -- and he had many friends. We had coffee
on the ground floor of the Cathedral of Learning almost every
week. The last message I had from him was from Honolulu on July
8, when I received an exuberant and happy e-mail, characteristically
phrased affirmatively: The "symposium is off to a good start,"
his demonstration was "well-received," "lots of
sun 'n' fun over the weekend." Bob was an affirmative guy
with specific enthusiasms. He loved the Pirates through thick
years and thin; he steeped himself in his Scottish heritage --
he mastered bagpipes and proudly wore a kilt as he played them
in parades. He learned to fly an airplane. He knew virtually
all there was to know about the use of computers in language
He was unquestionably student-oriented -- their friend and
advocate. As director of the Language Acquisition Institute,
he was endlessly patient in arranging for classes in the uncommonly
taught languages, finding native-speakers to teach them, solving
scheduling problems, and sometimes bending witless regulations
to help them study what they wanted.
Warm, accessible, patient and competent, he was unique, a
pleasure to be with, an ornament to the University of Pittsburgh.
And every time I sit down and have coffee across from his Cathedral
office, I shall raise my cup to his memory.
--Edward M. Anthony (Edward Anthony is a professor emeritus
in the Department of Linguistics and former director of the Language
Robert Henderson Language
Media Center, University of Pittsburgh
Last revised: July 27, 2001