Dr. Henry G. Bennett
The Henry G. Bennett Fellowship is named for the former president of Oklahoma State University who made outstanding contributions to the University, higher education, and people worldwide. Dr. Bennett served as President of Oklahoma A&M College from 1928 until 1950.
Oklahoma A&M College is now known as Oklahoma State University. With an original enrollment of 2,900 it has grown to five campuses with a total student enrollment of over 32,600. Early in his tenure Dr. Bennett developed a strategic vision for the physical expansion of the university campus. His vision was followed for more than fifty years and made the university what it is today. Despite the Great Depression, Bennett managed to build the first major structures of his strategic vision which provided necessary expansion of the college, as well as jobs for those suffering from unemployment.
In January of 1949 U.S. President Harry S. Truman outlined a program for peace and freedom, the fourth point of which was “to embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of the underdeveloped areas.” This idea was incorporated into what became known as the Point Four Program that provided developing nations with technical assistance in education, public health, industry, and agriculture. The other three points of the Point Four Program were to: support the United Nations, extend the European Recovery Program, and strengthen “freedom-loving nations against the dangers of aggression.”
On November 4, 1950 President Truman appointed Dr. Bennett to be Assistant Secretary of State in charge of the Point Four Program. The Point Four Program supplied technical skills to people in underdeveloped nations through on-the-job training, demonstration of methods, laboratories and libraries, exchange of teachers and students, and international conferences. The most important aim was to increase food production in areas where hunger was prevalent. Bennett sent technical experts to teach the people of other nations “how to get more per acre through better planting, better seeds, or better livestock strains.” Dr. Bennett is generally credited as the originator of the method of international technical assistance that utilizes teams of specialists from American colleges and universities to teach the people of other countries how to improve food production, housing, health, and education “with the tools at hand.” President Bennett traveled extensively throughout the world and established more than 105 projects in 33 nations.
Dr. Bennett died tragically in a plane crash while serving on a Point Four Program assignment in Iran in 1951.
The Point Four Program evolved into what is known today as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).