African American News and Genealogy

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Cheaney, respected KSU professor dies

By Jennifer Hewlett HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER Henry Ellis Cheaney, a respected retired Kentucky State University history professor, died Tuesday at Frankfort Regional Medical Center after an illness. He was 94. Mr. Cheaney wore many other hats, including those of debate team coach, boxing coach, publicity director and chaplain, during his 46-year tenure at KSU. But perhaps it was in the classroom that he made the greatest impact. He was known as a hard-driving, but highly entertaining professor, who expected his students to go beyond attending classes and reading textbooks. William Wilson, former chairman of the KSU board of regents and a former student of Mr. Cheaney, recalled how Mr. Cheaney would assign each student a topic to research and then grill them on it for an entire class period. Wilson's topic for his "day in court" was the Cuban Missile Crisis. Wilson made sure to find out what those missiles looked like and what television program President John F. Kennedy interrupted to tell the public about the crisis, he said. "When you went to Dr. Cheaney's class you'd better be prepared," Wilson said. Not only were students required to know their history, they were required to know how to do historical research and how to talk and write about history, too, he said. "He would flunk you on your grammar. If you did not, in fact, write well, you were in serious trouble," Wilson said. "Our exams for Dr. Cheaney would take hours." Wilson recalled one history lesson that Mr. Cheaney began by writing a long chemical formula on the chalkboard. A student walked in the classroom, then quickly left because he thought he was in a chemistry class. "What Dr. Cheaney frequently lectured on was not always in your textbook, which is why it was always so important to take notes," Wilson said. Sometimes students got so engrossed in Mr. Cheaney's lectures -- his "cowboy lecture" about the westward movement in the United States came complete with sound effects -- that they forgot they were in a classroom. "People have flunked his course because they got so engrossed in his telling of stories that they forgot to take notes," Wilson said. Mr. Cheaney was a "phenomenal teacher" and an "intellectual giant," Wilson said. "Dr. Henry Cheaney is revered as a legend in the history of Kentucky State University," KSU Provost Juanita Fleming said. "Professor Cheaney was the epitome of what one would assume a professor represented. He was articulate. He was kind. He was intellectually superior, and he left a lasting mark on anyone he touched," said Betty Griffin, former chairwoman of the KSU Division of Education and Human Services. Full Story:


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