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Henry Ponder

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Information about Henry Ponder

Profile image of Henry Ponder

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
University President

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Oysters on the Half Shell
Favorite Time of Year:
Birthday
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Senegal, West Africa
Favorite Quote:
Take Your Time, Not Your Life.

Birthplace

Born:
3/28/1928
Birth Location:
Wewoka, Oklahoma

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
University President

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Oysters on the Half Shell
Favorite Time of Year:
Birthday
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Senegal, West Africa
Favorite Quote:
Take Your Time, Not Your Life.

Birthplace

Born:
3/28/1928
Birth Location:
Wewoka
See how Henry Ponder is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Henry Ponder was born on March 28, 1928 in Wewoka, Oklahoma. He was the eleventh of fourteen children born to Frank and Lillie Mae Ponder. Ponder excelled in academics and participated in his high school student council as the class president. After hearing a speech by Mary McCloud Bethune, Ponder was inspired to become a university president. He graduated from Douglas High School in 1946 and attended Langston University, where he pledged the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and received his B.S. degree in agriculture in 1951.

Ponder served two years in the United States Army during the Korean War. When he returned to civilian life, he worked as a research assistant at Oklahoma State University. He then earned his M.A. degree from Oklahoma State University and his Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

Ponder served as both Chair and Assistant Professor for the Department of Agriculture and Business at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia. He also served as the Chairman of the Department of Business and Economics of Fort Valley State College in Fort Valley, Georgia. Additionally, Ponder was the Vice President of Alabama A&M University in Normal, Alabama. In 1973, he fulfilled his dream by becoming President of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. After an eleven year tenure, he became the President of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee for twelve years. While at Fisk, Ponder was honored as one of the “100 Most Effective College Presidents in the United States.”

In 1996, Ponder left Fisk University to serve as the CEO and president of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. In early 2002, he became President of Talladega College in Alabama. While in his presidency, Ponder helped retain the 160-year-old institution’s accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Ponder currently lives on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina with his wife of fifty-five years, Eunice. They have two adult daughters.

Ponder was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 29, 2007.

See how Henry Ponder is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Henry Ponder's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder describes his maternal grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder describes his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder recalls his childhood in a large family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Henry Ponder remembers lessons from his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Henry Ponder describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Henry Ponder describes his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Henry Ponder describes his siblings, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Henry Ponder describes his brother, Tinch Ponder
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder describes his sister, Katheryn Ponder Brown
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder describes his brother, Paul Harding Ponder
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder describes his sisters, Mayme Ponder Jackson
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder describes his remaining siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Henry Ponder describes his chores on the farm
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Henry Ponder describes his childhood home
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Henry Ponder recalls being responsible for the farm from an early age
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Henry Ponder remembers growing up during the Great Depression
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Henry Ponder describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Henry Ponder describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder recalls the Johnson Grove School in Wewoka, Oklahoma
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder remembers Douglas High School in Wewoka, Oklahoma
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder recalls hearing Mary McLeod Bethune speak
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder describes his extracurricular activities in high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder describes his childhood entertainment
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Henry Ponder recalls how his family avoided the effects of the Dust Bowl
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Henry Ponder describes his decision to attend college, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Henry Ponder describes his decision to attend college, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Henry Ponder describes his first year at Oklahoma's Langston University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Henry Ponder recalls meeting his wife at Langston University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder remembers his academic success at Langston University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder describes his professors at Langston University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder talks about the role of college fraternities and sororities
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder talks about how fraternities changed in his lifetime
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder describes fraternities' community involvement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Henry Ponder remembers his graduation from Langston University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Henry Ponder recalls being drafted to serve in the Korean War, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Henry Ponder recalls being drafted to serve in the Korean War, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Henry Ponder remembers his promotion to sergeant in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder describes his experiences in Korea and Japan
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder recalls his graduate studies at The Oklahoma State University for Agriculture and Applied Science
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder remembers joining the faculty of Virginia State University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder recalls earning a Ph.D. degree at The Ohio State University for Agriculture and Applied Science
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder remembers the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Henry Ponder talks about voting rights and segregation in Oklahoma
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Henry Ponder remembers segregation in Virginia and Oklahoma
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Henry Ponder remembers the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Henry Ponder recalls the reaction of Virginians to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's death
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder describes his daughters' births
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder remembers moving to Fort Valley, Georgia, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder remembers moving to Fort Valley, Georgia, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder describes his civil rights activism in Fort Valley, Georgia, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder describes his civil rights activism in Fort Valley, Georgia, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Henry Ponder describes his experience at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in Huntsville
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Henry Ponder recalls the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Henry Ponder recalls the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Henry Ponder describes how he became the president of Saint Paul's College in Lawrenceville, Virginia
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Henry Ponder recalls his decision to reject the presidency of Saint Paul's College
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder remembers his presidency of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder talks about expanding the academic programs at Benedict College
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder recalls his decision to become president of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder talks about achieving his goal of becoming a college president
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder recalls his presidency of the National Association for Equal Opportunity and Higher Education
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Henry Ponder describes organizational involvement
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Henry Ponder describes his work as a consultant in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Henry Ponder describes his presidency of Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Henry Ponder describes his involvement in the church
  • Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Henry Ponder remembers receiving his first honorary degree
  • Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Henry Ponder talks about his retirement in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
  • Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Henry Ponder talks about his older daughter, Cheryl Ponder
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Henry Ponder talks about his daughters' educations and careers
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder describes his marriage to Eunice Ponder
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder describes his message to future generations
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder narrates his photographs