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$200,000 Henson Foundation Gift to Bring New Planetarium to SU

$200,000 Henson Foundation Gift to Bring New Planetarium to SU

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University is encouraging local students to reach for the stars — literally and figuratively — thanks to a $200,000 gift from the Richard A. Henson Foundation to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

The funding will allow SU to enhance its physics program with the construction of a campus planetarium adjacent to Henson Science Hall

“We are very pleased to continue honoring the legacy of Mr. Henson with this new planetarium,” shared Stacey McMichael, executive director of the Henson Foundation. “It is a natural expansion of the offerings at the Henson School. We, at the Richard A. Henson Foundation hope that with this new learning opportunity, students and community members will enjoy what the planetarium has to offer.”

“With the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope and renewed interest of NASA returning to the moon and the space agency’s plan to colonize Mars in the next decade, there is a burgeoning need for young scholars training in the science of the stars and space,” said Dr. Michael Scott, dean of the Henson School, adding that the planetarium, combined with SU’s proximity to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, could make the area especially attractive to students hoping to study astronomy and astrophysics.

The gift continues a long history of support shown to SU by the Henson Foundation and its namesake, a commuter airline pioneer who became acquainted with the University after moving his business operations to Salisbury in 1981. In 1987, he created SU’s Henson School with a $2.5 million endowment.

The University dedicated Henson Science Hall in his honor just three months after his death in 2002 at age 92. In 2017, the foundation provided a second $2.5 million gift to enhance the Henson School’s offerings with programs and facilities including a new high-performance computer lab.

In 2012, the foundation also announced a $1 million gift to create SU’s Richard A. Henson Medical Simulation Center, a cutting-edge training facility for health professions students at SU and working professionals in the local medical community. 

“Richard Henson was no stranger to philanthropy, with many buildings and programs at SU and in the greater Salisbury community bearing his name,” said Jason Curtin, vice president of University advancement and alumni relations, and executive director of the SU Foundation, Inc. “The fact that his legacy will continue through these students is a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to technology, the aerospace industry and his community. I think he would have been excited about what these programs will mean for the future of SU and the future of Delmarva.”

Learn more about SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.