When Dr. James Henderson moved to San Juan County in 1975 to assume the leadership of San Juan College (then part of New Mexico State University), he brought more than his dedication and experience in education with him.
With four classrooms and about 300 students, Dr. Henderson had a vision for San Juan College that would ultimately – and positively – affect the economy of San Juan County. With determination, commitment and with a persuasion not many could resist, Dr. Henderson helped grow San Juan College from the four classrooms and 300 students to a campus that covers almost 640 acres, offers two additional offices and off-campus centers in Aztec and Kirtland and with some 12,000 students taking advantage of obtaining a degree with one of the lowest tuition rates in the state.
Starting as the campus director, shortly after his arrival in Farmington, Dr. Henderson began his quest to make the small branch of New Mexico State University evolve into its own identity. He lobbied legislators, told his story to countless people and shared his vision of a community college that would provide educational and career opportunities to people in the Four Corners and beyond. In 1982, with the help of an advisory committee, San Juan College became an independent community college and Dr. Henderson was named its first president. He continued in that capacity until his retirement in 2003, but remained with the college as Chancellor Emeritus for one more year.
In 2004, Dr. Henderson was elected to the San Juan County Commission, of which he served until term limits required him to step down in 2012. As a County Commissioner, Dr. Henderson was focused on growing the county’s economic base, a focus he continues as a volunteer for Four Corners Economic Development. Dr. Henderson was part of the brain trust, E>P, which began investing time, money and resources into expanding the economic foundation of the county. E>P eventually evolved into Four Corners Economic Development, and Dr. Henderson is a member of the Board of Directors. Dr. Henderson is also a member of the San Juan College Foundation Board, serves as president for the San Juan Safe Communities Initiative, the San Juan Medical Foundation Board, is a longtime Rotarian, was a founder of Leadership San Juan and is a member of the Farmington Chamber of Commerce Redcoats. Many more of the community’s organizations have benefited from his time and knowledge.
Dr. Henderson is passionate about developing an outstanding economic organization that will work with the leaders and citizens of San Juan County to continue the quality of life the residents of San Juan County enjoy. He is committed to continuing to improve the positive business environment here. Dr. Henderson believes that Four Corners Economic Development will be a leader in attracting and bringing new companies and new jobs to San Juan County, while retaining and helping existing companies expand – in a community that is second to none with its quality of life.
Dr. Henderson and his wife, Tycie, enjoy their life in Farmington and their three grown children always enjoy coming “home.”