The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

Sort Interviews by Affiliation or Theme

Michael Henthorne Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna.

August 29, 2014


Charles Michael Henthorne was born in 1952 in Marysville, Kansas, one of seven children. After graduating from Marysville High School in 1970, Henthorne attended Kansas State Teaching College, now known as Emporia State University.

At Kansas State Teaching College, Henthorne was involved in student leadership as well as the school's activities counsel. During his senior year, he was elected president of the Union of Activities Counsel, an experience which provoked his further interest in being involved with college student unions as a professional. Henthorne continued his education at Kansas State Teaching College by entering the school's master's program and working as an advisor to the Union Activities Board. He completed his master's degree work in 1975.

In 1976, Henthorne began his professional career at Boise State University. While at BSU, Henthorne served as Assistant Director of the Student Union, overseeing the organization's financial management. He remained in Boise until 1987 when he moved with his wife and sons to Oregon State University, where he had been hired as Director of Operations for the Memorial Union (MU) and Educational Activities. In 1994 Henthorne became the interim director of the MU and was also awarded the OSU Student Affairs Outstanding Professional Award. In 1997 Henthorne was officially promoted into the position of Executive Director of the MU.

During this time, Henthorne also became a leader within his field. From 1998-2001 he served as vice president of the Commission on Educational Programs and Services in the Association of College Unions International (ACUI). He was also president of this organization for one year (2003) and was a member of the ACUI Foundation Board of Directors from 2004-2007.

When Henthorne arrived at OSU, the Memorial Union was a dated building and the MU as an organization lacked the funds to adequately meet the student body's programming needs. As director, Henthorne developed successful strategies for self-funding projects. It was particularly important to Henthorne that the MU reflect core values of inclusion, equity, and social justice, and it was under his watch that a series of meeting rooms were renovated with themes celebrating the four major ethnic identity groups on campus: Native American, African American, Chicano-Latino, and Asian-Pacific Islander. Henthorne likewise oversaw major updates to the MU Commons food system and space, and spearheaded modernization throughout MU operations, including wholesale conversion from a manual accounting system to one utilizing computers.

In addition to his responsibilities with the MU building itself, Henthorne also administered the Memorial Union organization, a collection of some twenty-eight programs located in multiple campus buildings, including the student newspaper, radio and television stations. He was likewise closely involved with the expansion of Memorial Union operations into the Student Experience Center building, which celebrated its grand opening in April 2015.

Michael Henthorne retired from OSU in June 2016.