John A. White, Jr.
Dr. John White was the recipient of 2016 Marvin H. Agee Distinguished Alumni Award.
Born in his grandparents’ rural home in Portland, Arkansas, John White came from a family of teachers. Both of his parents taught school, his sister became a teacher, and he married a teacher.
Dr. White earned his BSIE at the University of Arkansas in 1962. While working as an engineer for Tennessee Eastman Company an opportunity to attend graduate school at Virginia Tech came along. The industrial engineering department at Virginia Tech needed instructors immediately as the Southwest Virginia National Guard had been mobilized in 1963 due to the Berlin Crisis. Herb Manning, head of the industrial engineering department at that time, approached Buck Newsome, John White’s boss, asking if he knew someone who would help out by teaching during the spring quarter. Mr. Newsome recommended John White.
In 1966, John White earned his MSIE at Virginia Tech under the tutelage of Wolter Fabrycky and went on to earn his PhD at Ohio State University in 1970. He then returned to Virginia Tech to teach after earning his PhD.
In 1975, John joined the Georgia Tech faculty from 1975-1991, then became Dean of Engineering at Georgia Tech from 1991-1997. In 1997 he was asked to apply for the position of Chancellor at the University of Arkansas where he stayed until returning to full-time teaching in 2009 at the University of Arkansas.
His parents and Paul Torgersen have served as his role models, because of their commitment to teaching. People still approach Dr. White today to say how incredible his parents were as teachers. He decided when he became Chancellor at the University of Arkansas, that he would continue to teach. This sent a strong message to the faculty about the importance of teaching.