HCAD Alumni Honor Jake Henry Jr. ’74, FACHE, With Duce Award
“I have always been interested in leadership and had generally been involved in many things medical. These things came together to cause me to choose a career in health care,” says Jake Henry Jr. ‘74 FACHE, President and CEO of Tulsa-based Saint Francis Health System and recipient of the 2015 Leonard A. Duce Award.
“Things medical” began with his high school job as an orderly at the 80-bed community hospital in his hometown of Sweetwater, Texas. After becoming an Army medic and serving in Vietnam and the U.S., he worked in a hospital business office while attending Texas Tech.
He chose Trinity for his master’s in health care administration based on a friend’s high praise for the faculty, the curricula and the fact that it was the only accredited health care administration program in Texas. He also noticed that many of its graduates were in leadership positions around the state. “This certainly gave the program a positive imprimatur,” he adds.
Jake’s potential as a leader was recognized quickly. Two years after embarking on his career in heath care—at age 30— he was named President and CEO of Angelo Community Hospital in San Angelo, Texas. Similar positions with health care systems across Texas and in California and Memphis followed. He took the helm of Saint Francis in 2002, which celebrated the opening of a 162-bed Children’s Hospital and has experienced an eye-popping 341 percent increase in net worth during his tenure. Gross revenue and market share have also increased significantly under his leadership and the system is rated AA+ by Standard & Poor’s and Aa2 by Moody’s.
Professionally, Jake is a member of the American Hospital Association’s House of Delegates and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. Over the course of his career, Jake has held board of director positions or chaired more than 35 health care or civic organizations. Currently, he serves on the board of directors of the Children’s Hospital Foundation, CommunityCare Healthcare Plans of Oklahoma, Montreau Inc., (a continuing care retirement center), and Saint Francis Health System, and chairs the board of Xavier Insurance Company. His leadership skills and business acumen are frequently sought by organizations outside health care and he holds board memberships at American Bank and Trust and the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Such unstinting service deserves recognition and Jake is no exception. The latest in a string of honors that began with two U.S. Army Commendation Medals for valor, the Duce Award, named for Leonard Duce, first dean of Trinity University’s Health Care Administration graduate program, honors an alumnus/a who has made significant contributions to the field of health care administration. Dennis Millirons, a Trinity HCAD graduate from 1976 and recipient of the 2006 Duce Award, nominated Jake and presented the award to him during the annual gathering in Chicago on March 15. More than 85 fellow HCAD alumni, faculty members, university administrators and students attended the celebratory reception and dinner at Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse to honor Jake’s latest achievement.
To young practitioners entering the field, Jake advises: “Build an excellent toolkit of competencies. Use good judgment. Be loyal to your team and your colleagues, but don’t tolerate mediocrity—it brings everyone and everything down.”
Having compiled a stellar record of professional performance and outstanding civic service, Jake says, “I am fortunate that after 40 years of leadership, my vocation is my avocation. I enjoy going to work every morning.”