Faculty News

Professor Emeritus Sterling Hennis dies at 88

Sterling Hennis

Sterling Hennis, professor emeritus who retired from the School of Education in 1998, died on Feb. 14. He was 88.

Hennis (A.B. ’52, M.A. ’53, Ph.D. ’61) served on the faculty, teaching English education, at the School of Education for 37 years, joining Carolina after teaching in Winston-Salem, his hometown.

At the School of Education, Hennis served as the chair of the Division of Curriculum and Instruction from 1975 to 1981, and directed and advised innumerable graduate and undergraduate students.

Beginning in 1960 and for 42 years, Hennis served as faculty advisor to Carolina’s Sigma Phi Epsilon N.C. Delta Chapter, the fraternity he joined in 1949 when he was an undergraduate in Chapel Hill. In 2010, the fraternity’s house was named for him in a surprise ceremony.

In retirement, Hennis pursued a hobby of painting, with works often displayed locally.

Author Clyde Edgerton (A.B.Ed. ’66, MAT ’73, Ph.D. ’77) was one of Hennis’s students at Carolina. In a 2015 Daily Tar Heel profile of Hennis, Edgerton credited Hennis with teaching him techniques that he went on to use in his own teaching.

“His ideas seemed sensible, liberating and fun,” Edgerton told the newspaper. “It’s been 40 years or so, and I use all of those techniques still. I used them in high school. I use them with undergraduates in college now.

“His sense of adventure and learning by doing and trying new things, and using novelty as a technique to get students interested in what they’re doing is his concept. That kind of view of the world has influenced how I live and work and teach,” Edgerton said.

Hennis is survived by his wife, Anita Hennis; daughters, Liz Greer and Julie Hennis; daughter-in-law, Lisa Boado; grandchildren, Hugh Hinton, Elizabeth Hinton, Gage Howe, Bo Howe, Tracy Sell; sister and brother-in-law, Sara Jo and Richard Phillips.

In honor of Hennis’s lifelong dedication to teaching and the arts, the family plans to establish a teaching grant through the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Public School Foundation. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to CHCCS Public School Foundation in honor of Sterling Hennis, P.O. Box 877, Carrboro, NC 27510.

A Celebration of Life event will be held Friday, March 2, at 2 p.m. at University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill.