DePauw University names first woman, African American as 21st president

Lori White

The DePauw University Board of Trustees voted unanimously today to appoint Dr. Lori S. White, the vice chancellor for student affairs at Washington University in St. Louis, as DePauw’s 21st president.

When she takes the helm July 1, White will be the only African American woman leading a university in Indiana and one of the few in the nation to do so. She will be the first woman and the first person of color to serve as president of DePauw, a liberal arts university in Greencastle.

White will succeed D. Mark McCoy, DePauw’s president since July 2016, effective July 1.

White was the unanimous recommendation of an 18-member presidential search committee comprised of alumni, faculty members, staff, students and administrators.

Interest in the DePauw presidency was extremely high, with college presidents, vice presidents and corporate executives seeking consideration.

“Throughout her career, Dr. White has brought a student-centered approach to her work and the work of the institutions she has served,” said Kathy Patterson Vrabeck, chair of the Board of Trustees. “She understands that the student experience is best served when academics, co-curricular experiences and residential life are considered holistically. Dr. White’s ability to engage authentically with all constituents has contributed greatly to her success at world-class institutions. She is a team-oriented leader who is engaging, energetic and passionate about the liberal arts, access and student success. The Board of Trustees is delighted to welcome Dr. White as our 21st president and looks forward to the future of our institution under her leadership.”

“I am beyond excited to serve as DePauw’s 21st president and join countless others who have passed beneath DePauw’s iconic arch into a world of endless possibilities,” White said. “Throughout the interview process, I’ve been deeply impressed by this community of extraordinary faculty who challenge students to think and learn broadly, supportive staff who care about each student’s experience and students and alumni who exemplify the transformational impact of a DePauw education. I knew from my first awe-inspiring moment in East College that I wanted to be part of DePauw’s history, tradition, passion and values that are truly ‘gold within.’”

White comes with more than 30 years of experience in both student-focused leadership and academic roles. She is a professor of practice in the WashU Department of Education, was a clinical professor of education at SMU and has held other teaching positions over the years. She will hold the rank of professor of education studies at DePauw.

White earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and English from the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate in education administration and policy analysis from Stanford. She also attended Harvard University’s Institute for Management and Leadership in Education and is passionate about the power of the liberal arts.

She comes from a family immersed in higher education. Her husband, Anthony Tillman, is assistant provost for student success at WashU. Her late father, Joseph L. White, was known as the father of black psychology and was the first African American to receive a doctorate in clinical psychology from Michigan State University. Her sister, Lisa D. White, is a geologist and director of education and outreach at the University of California Museum of Paleontology.

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