President Robert Henry is back in office after a medical leave of absence.
Henry announced in an Aug. 3 email that he would be receiving follow-up surgery to repair a mitral valve prolapse at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
His leave began Aug. 7, and he returned to campus Sept. 19.
“Over a year ago, I began having symptoms of being really tired,” Henry said.
After undergoing a series of tests, Henry found out his previous heart valve repair had created a condition called hemolysis, which destroys red blood cells, resulting in severe anemia.
Henry planned to have the surgery during the summer, but had a sinus infection, which resulted in him having to postpone it until Aug. 10.
“I have a porcine valve, a pig valve, now,” Henry said. “It’s pretty technical stuff, but it should work for eight to 12 years, and then I’ll probably have to have it done again.”
Henry will complete a 12-18 week cardiac rehab session to recover from his surgery.
He said he feels much better after his surgery.
“Everybody tells me that I look better, that my color is good because I’m not losing iron, but it will be a while before I get fully up-to-speed,” he said.
Henry said he’s enjoyed being back on campus. He’s already started visiting students in the caf, but he said he’s going to focus less on teaching and more on strengthening the strategic plan this year.
“Open heart surgery is a major surgery, but I’m doing well,” he said.
Emily Diaz, acting senior, said she’s glad Henry is back on campus and feeling healthy.
“I hope he took enough time off and is ready to rejoin the community with full strength,” Diaz said.
While Henry was on medical leave, Provost Kent Buchanan served as acting president.
Henry still plans to retire in June. His name has been mentioned in consideration for the next University of Oklahoma president. The position will be open next academic year, as OU President David Boren announced he also will retire in June.
“It’s always an honor to be mentioned, and I did note that several press reports mentioned me, but I suspect they will be looking for a younger person,” Henry said.
Henry gave the OU commencement speech in May.
“I hope him the best on whatever he decides to do,” Diaz said. “Although I think it may be time for him to take time for himself.”