The important work being done by his F&ES classmates, and their many predecessors, made such a mark on McHenry, a California attorney, that he has devoted his alumni activities over the past 35 years to assure later groups of students would enjoy the same opportunities — and share that same exhilaration — that his class had.
Thirty-five years ago, McHenry and his classmates laid the groundwork for a fund, the Class of 1980 Fund, which has supported generations of projects by F&ES students
. McHenry has helped coordinate the project, as well as another fund created later that provides scholarship dollars for F&ES students.
That worked propelled him into other leadership positions within F&ES and Yale University. For nearly a decade McHenry has served as co-chair of the F&ES Leadership Council, which earlier this year concluded a $10 million scholarship initiative in support of F&ES students. The initiative resulted in 22 new endowed scholarships at F&ES.
This week McHenry will be honored with the School’s Distinguished Service Award during reunion weekend. The award was created by the F&ES Alumni Association to recognize service to the school by an alumnus.
“Tom’s fingerprints are all over so much of the wonderful work being done at F&ES,” said F&ES Dean Peter Crane. “His leadership has made it possible for so many students to attend F&ES and, through the support of the Class of 1980 Fund, to carry out their own ideas of how to make a difference on campus and in the world.
“It’s this kind of generosity that makes our School such a unique and wonderful place, and why we continue to attract the best students from across the world.”
cHenry, who is now a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles, says his ongoing work for F&ES has been a labor of love. And in reality, he and his classmates began giving back before they even left.
Few of them had even landed their first job out of F&ES when they launched the Class of 1980 Fund. They raised only $1,050 that first year, but the fund has since grown to more than $370,000 and now provides about $15,000 to $20,000 each year for student projects, from film festivals and symposia to multimedia equipment and a pavilion at the School’s Yale-Myers Forest.
In addition to keeping classmates connected with one another, the funds have kept them connected to the School and the work being done by each class of student since each member of the class of ’80 is invited to vote for the prize recipients.
It’s been so successful that McHenry and his classmates started the second fund for student scholarships that now exceeds $379,000, said McHenry, who has helped raise money for the fund since the beginning, including the solicitation of annual and five-year reunion donations from his classmates.