Lori White, the current vice chancellor for student affairs at Washington University in St. Louis, will be the next president of DePauw University. White will be the first woman and the first person of color to serve as the president of DePauw.
Only 5 percent of college presidents are women of color, according to a 2017 report from the American Council on Education.
The DePauw Board of Trustees voted today, after unanimous support from the 18-person search committee including staff, board members, alumni, and two student representatives, according to Kathy Vrabeck, chair of the Board of Trustees.
“I am thrilled that Dr. White has been appointed as our next president,” Betsy Beggs, junior student on the committee said over email. “She is experienced in higher education and understands the challenges that DePauw students face. She is an excellent communicator, a strong leader and a good listener.”
With a background in education studies, White has more than 30 years of experience in student focused positions and will hold the rank of a professor of education at DePauw. Among this work White’s focus on students stood out to the search committee, according to Vrabeck.
“She is someone who is student-centered,” Vrabeck said in a phone interview. “Whether it's talking about academic advising, whether it's talking about co-curricular activities, every role she’s had… she brings a student-centered approach to all of that work.”
While the search was closed, meaning only the search committee was involved in the process, as a final stage White confidentially met with a selection of students, administration cabinet members and staff throughout February, according to Vrabeck.
“Dr. White is here for the foreseeable future…” Vrabeck said. “We are excited about her joining and look forward to a long, great relationship at DePauw.”
White’s tenure will begin July 1.
“I expect to spend a lot of time listening to students, listening to staff, listening to faculty, listening to alumni to help me identify what are all of our wonderful strengths, and what are our challenges and right now.” White said. “What kinds of things collectively we should make a priority for the university going forward.”
At Washington University, White’s division supervised over 1,000 student employees most of whom were undergraduates. At DePauw she intends to continue connecting with students, including passing out business cards good for one free lunch with the president - she started this initiative while at Washington University.
“As I’ve become a senior leader in higher education I’ve had to become much more intentional about developing my relationships with students," White said. "But I can’t be successful in my work, advocating for the kind of things that are important to the student experience, if I’m not actually listening to students, visible to students and connected to students in some way.”
Whites' appointment comes following a faculty vote-of-no confidence November 2018 and resignation last May.