Chief Judge Robert H. Henry of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit has announced that he will step down from the bench in June 2010 to become president and chief executive officer of Oklahoma City University.

Henry, who also will be a tenured professor of law and political science, will succeed Tom McDaniel, who takes on a new role as chancellor. Oklahoma City University is a private Methodist-affiliated university with a student body of 3,700 graduate and undergraduate students.

In Henry’s announcement, Board of Trustees President William Shdeed called Henry the “top choice” at each stage of a search process that began last August. Shdeed said, “We believe he can lead OCU to the next level of national and international prominence in private higher education. OCU is poised for greatness.”

Henry has served as chief judge since 2008. President Bill Clinton nominated him to the federal appellate court in February 1994. He received his commission in May of that year.

Before joining the federal bench, Henry was dean of the Oklahoma City University School of Law from 1993 to 1994. He also served as state attorney general from 1987 to 1992, and as a state representative from 1976 to 1986.

“The 10th Circuit is, in my view, the most collegial and friendly group of judges, lawyers and staff in the country,” said Henry. “It has been a remarkable honor to serve as chief judge of such a wonderful institution. I will retain great friendships and great memories of the public servants with whom I have worked for almost 16 years.”

The circuit currently has 11 active judges and nine senior judges. Its territorial jurisdiction covers Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, plus those portions of the Yellowstone National Park extending into Montana and Idaho.

Marcia Coyle can be contacted at