Dr. Jeanne Pearlson Henry, 60, the chairman of the department of businss economics and finance at the University of the District of Columbia, died of cancer Sunday at Howard University Hospital.

Dr. Henry, an economist by training and a specialist in labor economics, joined the faculty of Federal City College, a predecessor of UDC, in 1970. She became chairman of the business economics and finance department in 1974. She also was head of the honors awards program at UDC's College of Business and Public Administration.

A native of Boston, Dr. Henry earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate in economics at Radcliffe College. From the mid-1940s until the mid-1950s, she taught at Penn State, Connecticut and Hofstra universities.

She then went into private industry in New York City, where she was an economist for the Allied Chemical Co. and other firms.

In 1957, she married Dr. Warren E. Henry, now a professor of physics at Howard University, and moved to Washington. She taught at American Univsity and then briefly at Trinity College.

From 1960 until 1969, when her husband worked for the Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. in Palo Alto, Calif., the family lived in Mountain View, Calif. From 1962 until 1969, Dr. Henry taught at San Jose State University. She began her career at FCC and then UDC shortly after returning to Washington.

Dr. Henry was a member of the American Statistical Society, the American Association of University Women, the American Economics Association and the National Association of Business Economists. She also was a member of the Potomac Business and Professional Women's Club, the Association of California Consumers, the advisory neighborhood council of the National Urban League, and All Souls Unitarian Church, where she was president of the Women's Fellowship.

In addition to her husband of Washington, Dr. Henry's survivors include a daughter, Eva R., also of Washington; her father and stepmother, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Pearlson of Boston; two sisters, Eleanor Pearlson of Martha's Vineyard, Mass., and Frieda Rabinovitz of Los Angeles, and one brother, Paul Pearlson of Livingston, N.J.