Henry Torres is the assistant vice chancellor and chief information officer for Arkansas State University, where he leads a team of more than 60 IT professionals and is responsible for all technology hardware, software and information systems. He has been with A-State since 2002 and has held positions as full-time faculty of the College of Business, director of faculty professional development, and has been the CIO since 2013.
Torres has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Texas Tech University, a master’s in business administration from Henderson State University and is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Kennesaw State University. He is a board member of various nonprofit organizations and an active volunteer in the Jonesboro community.
Before moving to Jonesboro, Torres was a retail operations and information technology executive specializing in areas of distribution, logistics, store operations and e-commerce for companies such as Wal-Mart, Neiman-Marcus, Frederick’s of Hollywood, and CSK Auto. Along with his family, Henry's Henderson story started when he made a career change and moved to Arkadelphia to pursue his graduate degree.
When did you graduate, and what was your major?
I graduated in May 2002 from the MBA program.
Why did you choose Henderson?
It was a family decision, our daughters were 2 years and 4 years old and we moved from Los Angeles. I was blessed and fortunate to enjoy the benefits of helping a company through an IPO and chose to change careers from a corporate CIO to teach at the college level. I taught Management Information Systems classes at Henderson while getting my MBA. Henderson was a good fit for the life change on which we were embarking.
Who were your favorite professors?
I had a great relationship working with and learning from all of the professors in the MBA program. I am an industrial engineer and at that time I had no business courses under my belt, so I "Clepped" accounting I & II, micro and macro economics and took finance so that I could enter the program. Doing so, I enjoyed taking classes with Dr. Mike Casey, Dr. Ken Green, Dr. Mike Watters, Dr. Anita Williams, and Mr. Jack Meadows – all really excellent professors.
What is your current occupation?
I am the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Information Technology Systems and Chief Information Officer at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
How did Henderson prepare you for your career?
It grounded me in what having a good higher education really means. The structure in teaching towards using critical thinking was instilled in the students within the MBA program. It was refreshing after 17 years in the corporate world to refocus skills that I had grown to overlook.
What is your favorite memory of Henderson?
Working with the students and faculty. Everyone was down to earth, the right number of students in the classrooms – not too large nor too small. And of course the beautiful campus - what a treasure. Plus, the traffic compared to L.A. was a big change!
When’s the last time you have been on the Henderson campus?
October 2019. It was great to be back on campus and to see familiar paths and buildings.
What other job do you think you’d be really good at?
Cabana boy on the beach!! It just doesn’t pay enough to pay the bills.
How do you relax after a hard day?
Read and take walks. I’m squeezing in a little time each day to write something to finish up my dissertation. Working on a Ph.D. while working full-time is a tough gig.
Who do you admire the most, and why?
My mom. She was an inspiration to me and to many. She was the eldest of 12 siblings and only had a 7th grade education. She raised five kids on her own after my father died when I was 11 months young. She worked 2-3 jobs and it took her 12 years to finally get from a GED to graduate with a teaching degree. She was a wonderful teacher with a heart of gold and was always happy to help anyone, especially her students. Yuup – she remains the most admirable in my life.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Go on a mission trip to another country – or to many other countries. To see what basic needs some in this world still don’t get to enjoy like running water and electricity can be an eye opener. Let alone that they may not be able to read and have never heard the good news of the gospel. One comes back a changed person in a really good way.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned?
That some people just don’t care enough to make a positive difference in their lives and/or in their community. But this does not mean that we ignore or quit trying to help them. The hardest lesson is to keep trying to help where you can even if sometimes you don’t see immediate improvement.
What are three interesting facts about you?
1. I was raised in the projects – or government housing – where I learned that anything is possible if you have desire and work hard to get there.
2. I traveled with Sam Walton, not only in his pickup truck from Bentonville to Rogers, but on various trips across the country to visit stores.
3. I worked in Hollywood and walked down the boulevard multiple times a day from one office to another, and I lived where Bob Hope was a neighbor and saw him on a golf cart in front of our house.
If your life was a book, what would its title be?
Luck is when hard work meets opportunity.
If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what would it be?
Be nice, be humble, and love what you do.
What have you been doing since the Corona Virus outbreak?
Working, staying safe, wearing a mask when others don’t, and always praying.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month that ended on campus with your inspiring presentation to alumni and students, will you share with us what it means to you to be Hispanic?
Being a Hispanic is something special. Some speak Spanish and some may not, but all the same we are like anyone else in America with equal opportunities. Yes, there are difficulties along our paths, and some are unique, but we still have an opportunity to grow and improve when we work hard and participate within our communities. The Hispanic heritage is unique and brings many wonderful cultural threads into our lives and into our communities. Participating and expressing our likeness to others while also showing some differences that the Hispanic heritage offers, is part of what makes America strong. Our schools, our workplaces, and our communities all are better when we participate as good citizens. Being Hispanic is only one attribute that compliments who I am. What defines me and each of us alike, is much more than one label; you have to get to know me to understand the many attributes within me.