Shepherding The Next Generation: Faith, Farm Roots Fuel Faulkner President
By Madelyn Furlong
As Faulkner University’s president, Mitch Henry leans on his upbringing and experiences as a farmer to help him shepherd the next generation of leaders.
“There are many commonalities between farming and being a college president, particularly with Christian education,” Henry said. “Farming requires you to trust in God and rely on your faith. There are a lot of factors we can’t control, and it’s the same with being president. The farmers who enjoy their work are those who realize every good and perfect gift comes from God. Both jobs are a faith-building experience.”
The fourth of Davis and Margery Henry’s five children, Henry was raised on a dairy in south Montgomery County. When he and wife Cindy were dating, they dreamed of raising their children to experience farming’s fulfilling, yet challenging, moments. Cindy was raised on a cattle farm, too, in Lawrence County, and both families were active in the Alabama Farmers Federation.
After Henry graduated from law school, buying cattle was a priority. Tending the herd, preparing for livestock shows and improving herd genetics was a family affair with their children, Mitchell, Lauren and Ashby. Over time, they built a registered Black Angus herd and had commercial cattle.
“I practiced law to support our farming habit,” Henry said with a smile.
In 2021, Henry and Cindy planned to retire and pursue ministry full time starting in 2022. Henry stepped back from practicing law and teaching at Auburn University and Faulkner, a Christian university based in Montgomery. They sold most of their herd but kept a handful of registered Black Angus bulls, cared for by Henry’s brother, Garry. They are also invested in stocker cattle at Mitchell’s farm in Lawrence County.
After a prayer-filled season, the Henrys were guided back to Faulkner — full time. In June 2022, Henry stepped into ministry as Faulkner’s ninth president and dedicated himself to cultivating success in Faulkner’s nearly 3,000 students, encouraging them to grow academically and spiritually.
He was officially inaugurated in January 2023. Henry’s son introduced him during the ceremony in Montgomery, citing his father’s servant-leadership.
“There is nothing that he asks you to do that he would not first do himself,” Mitchell said. “He is a humble servant who strives to look after the needs of others before himself. He is the best father figure a child could ever have, and I’m confident he will continue to be an excellent college president.”
Henry said his love for farming has helped him connect with students who come from similar backgrounds, and he uses the opportunity to share with those who didn’t.
“We never stop learning, and we never stop teaching,” Henry said.
Henry often melds his passion for farming and faith-based education — whether bringing a steer-roping dummy to a campus game night, using agricultural analogies in cabinet meetings and at speaking engagements, or welcoming students and faculty to their farm, Prairie Oak, in Hope Hull.
“For both of us growing up, there was always food and fellowship on the farm,” Cindy said. “There was so much joy in it, and we wanted to follow our parents’ examples. We wanted to share with our friends and family, and now we get to do that with Faulkner.”