NORMAN — For his 93rd birthday in early 2009, Henry Zarrow received a gift that will keep on giving for numerous University of Oklahoma students.
A $5 million donation from the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation to the OU School of Social Work, given in Zarrow’s honor and his wife’s memory, was instrumental in constructing Anne and Henry Zarrow Hall.
The new building at 700 S. Elm Ave. replaces Rhyne Hall — which opened in 1921 as a fraternity house — as home of the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work. It was dedicated Friday morning inside a crowded conference room in Zarrow Hall.
“There’s been so much said about me; I’d like to say thank you all,” said Zarrow, who received a standing ovation upon entering the packed room and another upon his introduction.
Don Baker, the school’s appreciative director who spent many years in Rhyne Hall, said the new 30,000-square-foot building and its amenities combine “high instruction technology and high art.”
Zarrow Hall has distance-learning and videoconferencing equipment to tie its programs to those at OU-Tulsa. It also has rooms for classes, seminars, faculty and administration offices, a 200-seat community room, two clinical suites and three project suites that are home to the Child Welfare Professional Enhancement Program and the Knee Center for Strong Families.
In addition to the school’s bachelor degree programs, OU is the state’s only college or university that offers a graduate program in social work.
Brianna Ellis, a senior from Durant, said students are “overwhelmed by the opportunity to attend class in this beautiful, state-of-the-art building” and that its resources will enable them reach their goals of helping others.
“We students accept your gift,” Ellis said to Zarrow, “and pledge to you our hard work.”
Anne Zarrow died years ago but OU President David Boren said she was present in spirit. Anne and Henry Zarrow helped fund a day center for homeless people in Tulsa and Boren said they shopped each year on their anniversary — which also was Henry Zarrow’s birthday — for items to give at the day center.
The couple also donated much of their time and money to public schools, libraries, a senior center and in starting a center for people with mental health needs. Henry Zarrow, Boren said, has served as chairman for boards of more than 50 charitable organizations and he remains active in giving.
“They really are two remarkable people,” Boren said. “Partners in life, partners in giving.”
Boren later said that when the Zarrows “saw a need, they always acted on it and it wasn’t always institutional.”
The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, directed by Henry Zarrow and his children and grandchildren, has provided scholarships for hundreds of college students among its many other charitable endeavors.