Baylor Mourns Death of Master Teacher, Former Business School Dean

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    Emerson O. Henke
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    Emerson O. Henke
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    Emerson O. Henke
Oct. 30, 2007

Media Contact: Cynthia Jackson, Hankamer School of Business, (254) 710-7628

Dr. Emerson O. ("Henk") Henke, The J.E. Bush Emeritus Professor of Accounting, Master Teacher and former dean of Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business, died Oct. 29, 2007, at the age of 91. Funeral services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, at First Presbyterian Church, 1100 Austin Ave., with the Rev. Dr. Jimmie Johnson officiating. Burial will follow at Waco Memorial Park. A visitation will be held at Wilkirson Hatch Bailey Funeral Home on Bosque Blvd. from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31.

Henke taught at Baylor from 1948-91, serving as professor of accounting and chairman of the accounting department from 1948-67, The J.E. Bush Distinguished Professor of Accounting until his retirement, and dean of the business school from 1967-77.

"He was certainly one of the pillars that created a firm foundation for the Hankamer School of Business and was one of the architects in establishing our outstanding accounting program as one of the premier programs in the country," said Dr. Terry Maness, dean of the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor. "He will be missed."

"I literally would not be sitting in this chair if not for Emerson Henke," said Dr. Bill Thomas, The KPMG/Thomas L. Holton Chair of Accounting, The J.E. Bush Professor of Accounting and Master Teacher. "When the time came for me to attend graduate school, he was one of two or three people who encouraged me. I owe him the dream job I currently hold."

(Read Bill Thomas's tribute to Emerson Henke at

Dr. Richard Scott, one of the first business faculty members hired by Henke when he was dean, described Henke as "an outstanding accounting professor" who "never wanted to leave the classroom."

"He started the turnaround on the business school," said Scott, who followed Henke as Hankamer's dean from 1977-96. "We decided that if we were going to build the school, we would do it one department at a time. Accounting was already a very strong department. We worked on building up the management department next."

Born Feb. 20, 1916 on a farm near Stendal, Ind., Henke attended Evansville College, graduating in 1937 with a bachelor's degree in accounting. He earned a master's degree in accounting in 1939 and his DBA in 1953, both from Indiana University. He authored 14 books, including a ground-breaking 1965 study of accounting for non-profit organizations, which formed the basis for two textbooks on non-profit accounting that remained in print for more than 25 years.

"Emerson was well-respected all over the country for his work in not-for-profit accounting. But he knew all the facets of accounting. And he taught them all," Thomas said. "Emerson taught the CPA Exam Review course all by himself. Now it takes five of us to do the same thing. He did it alone."

Henke's influence continues to this day, as Baylor students from the Master of Accountancy (MAcc) and Master of Tax (MTax) degree programs have had a higher pass rate on the Texas CPA exam than any other graduate program in the state and second nationwide, according to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy statistics about the 2005 CPA exam results.

In 1965, Henke was elected most popular professor in the business school, a designation he cherished till his death. In 1980, he was named Most Outstanding Professor at Baylor, and in 1990, was selected as Master Teacher. In 1978, he received the University of Evansville Alumni Certificate of Excellence, and in l983 was named to the University of Evansville Athletic Hall of Fame for his service as a basketball player and coach. He was a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Texas Society of CPAs, American Accounting Association, Southwestern Business Alumni Association, Beta Alpha Psi and Beta Gamma Sigma.

In his spare time, Henke served as deacon and elder at First Presbyterian Church. His passion, however, was fishing which he pursued at every opportunity, preferably with his grandson, Blake, who loved every minute spent with his granddad. Henke was also an avid deer hunter, serving as a teacher of hunting skills to his grandson. The lessons Blake learned from his grandfather will be passed on to Henk's great grandsons.

Henke's beloved wife of 64 years, Beatrice Henke, died July 9, 2003. He is survived by two children, Michael John Henke of Alexandria, Va., and Pamela Henke Bailes of Cave Creek, Ariz., four grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren. A loving husband, father, grandfather and teacher, Henk will be missed by many.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to The Emerson O. Henke Endowed Chair of Accountancy at Baylor.

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