Just days before her death in May 2000, Dr. Shirley Smith Hendrick attended the first Best Practices for Adult Learners Conference sponsored by the Penn State Commission for Adult Learners. On that occasion, Dr. Donald A. Gogniat, CEO of Penn State York and a Commission member at that time, announced that future Best Practices conferences would bear her name. Although the conference celebrating best practices in service to adult learners started in 2000, it began as the Hendrick Best Practices for Adult Learners Conference in 2001.
Upon her December 1999 retirement from the University, Dr. Shirley Smith Hendrick was Associate Dean for Continuing and Distance Education in The Smeal College of Business Administration. In that role, she had academic responsibility for 2,000 college program offerings and 27,000 enrollments. Dr. Hendrick invented the “Step-up Program,” which enabled a student to start with a certificate program, and after successful completion, begin a second certificate program. Eventually, these credit certificate programs would lead to attainment of an associate degree.
In March 2000, the Division of Continuing Education honored Dr. Hendrick by awarding her the inaugural Outstanding Academic Leadership Award that now carries her name. The award recognized her contributions to the field of continuing education and her outstanding leadership in ensuring access to quality programs for the adult learner. In 1993, she received the Continuing Education Award for Administrative Excellence.
Dr. Hendrick’s support for adult learners had its origins in her own experience as a wife, mother, employee, and Penn State student. She earned bachelor of science (1972) and Master of Business Administration (1975) degrees and her doctorate in higher education (1980) from Penn State, all as an adult learner.
Shirley holds the unique distinction of serving as chair of two University-wide commissions. She was chair of the Commission for Women in 1991–1992 and inaugural chair of the Commission for Adult Learners in 1998–1999. She initiated the Emerging Women Manager’s Program at Penn State, served on the Educational Board for the National Association of Educational Office Personnel, and supported opportunities for and the development of women in many other ways.
Through the generous contributions of the Hendrick family, members of the Commission for Adult Learners, friends, and colleagues, the Shirley Hendrick Renaissance Scholarship was endowed in August 2001. Adult learners at several Penn State campuses continue to receive Hendrick Renaissance Scholarships.