Delt Experience Prepared Brad Henry ’85 To Serve As Oklahoma Governor

Alumni Spotlights

From 2003-2011, Brad Henry ’85 felt that he had the best job in the world as the governor of Oklahoma. Despite being faced with several difficult daily decisions that impacted the people of his home state, the Delta Tau Delta pillars of truth, courage, faith, and power kept him level-headed during his time in office.

“I learned several important lessons during my term as president of Delta Alpha Chapter that have assisted me throughout my life. First, I learned the very simple, but powerful, lesson that you can’t win if you don’t run,” Brad said. “In other words, you won’t succeed if you don’t try. While thoughtful consideration is important, too often, I believe, we get bogged down in over-analyzing our fears or the chances of success and we miss the opportunity entirely.”

Joining the Delta Alpha Chapter was an opportunity that Brad nearly missed entirely. Brad wasn’t interested in Greek life when he arrived at the University of Oklahoma, but begrudgingly went through recruitment after some urging from his roommate. He still wasn’t impressed with what the fraternity lifestyle had to offer until he stopped by the Delt house.

“The men of Delta Alpha gave me far more than I gave them. They taught me the value of camaraderie, teamwork, and leadership, as well as the worth of discipline and hard work,” Brad said. “I think it’s safe to say that if not for my experiences at Delta Alpha, I likely would not have had the self-confidence to attempt—let alone accomplish—many of the things I’ve done throughout my life, including run for governor.”

Brad was honored to be a part of the first Delta Alpha Chapter that won a Hugh Shields Award, but his best memories of his Delt experience aren’t limited to his undergraduate years. He returned to the Shelter to speak to the undergraduates when he was the governor of Oklahoma and considered it to be a very moving experience.

When Brad was sworn into office, he inherited the largest budget shortfall—as a percentage of the overall budget—in the state’s history. While the spotlight was squarely on Brad as he worked toward better financial times, he always deflected the credit to those who helped him through the process.

“I had a great team, and we went to work poring over the details of every agency budget,” Brad said. “Rather than make arbitrary across-the-board cuts to every agency—the easy thing to do—we made strategic, surgical cuts that made the most sense and caused the least amount of pain to the citizens of Oklahoma. In the end, we made cuts, but we also shielded education and the health agencies from the brunt of the cuts.”

As a lifelong Oklahoman, Brad also received his law degree from the OU College of Law. He has spent the past three years as a lawyer at Spencer Fane, LLP.

Outside of work, Brad enjoys fishing, reading, traveling abroad, wine collecting, yard work, and spending time with his family. Brad has been happily married to his wife, Kim, for nearly 33 years. Kim and Brad have three daughters, Leah, Laynie, and Baylee, and have loved the experience of being grandparents for the first time.

“Without question, Kim and the girls have been at the center of all of my successes in life. I would never have been elected governor without them,” Brad said. “My father used to always tell me, ‘We should never forget that friends come and go, but family is forever.’ He was absolutely right.”