Gloria White dies; ‘a great citizen of the University’

Gloria W. White, vice chancellor emerita for human resources, died Saturday, Sept. 20, 2003, of cardiac arrest. She was 69.

White began her career at the University in 1967 as the associate director of the Upward Bound Program. The following year, she became an academic adviser to undergraduate students in Arts & Sciences and was named director of the Office of Special Projects and of the Work-Study Career Scholarship Program for minority students.

The scholarship program was one of the University’s early — and successful — efforts to recruit African-American students.

“Gloria White was a great citizen of Washington University and the entire St. Louis region,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “She gave of her time and talent to so many important St. Louis institutions and has made a lasting impact on our community.

“As a University administrator, she was a committed and intelligent leader who helped the University focus on many important key issues over the years. She will be missed by all who knew and worked with her.”

Gloria White
Gloria White

In 1972, White was named the University’s affirmative action officer, and in 1975, she was promoted to director of personnel. Later that year, she was named assistant vice chancellor for personnel and affirmative action, and then in 1981, she became an associate vice chancellor.

She was named a vice chancellor in 1988.

As the affirmative action officer, White was extremely effective in increasing the number of minorities and women at the University.

“She impressed me, and everyone else, with her strength of conviction and extraordinary commitment to the well-being of all University employees — she had a deep and abiding commitment to that,” said James E. McLeod, vice chancellor for students and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “She was enormously energetic — I could never keep up with her — and she was very generous.

“If she believed in it, she gave her time and effort without hesitation. She was an amazing person, and she left an extraordinary imprint on Washington University.”

In his book Washington University in St. Louis: A History, Ralph E. Morrow, Ph.D., professor emeritus of history in Arts & Sciences, wrote that White was “instrumental in moving the University from desegregation toward integration.”

Considered a national leader in university human resources management, in 1988 White received the highest honor the College and University Personnel Association (CUPA) bestows on an individual — the Donald E. Dickason Award. A CUPA member since 1975, White held many leadership positions within the organization, including a one-year term as president.

“Everyone loved and respected Gloria White,” said William H. Danforth, chancellor emeritus and vice chairman of the Board of Trustees. “She knew and understood our strengths and our weaknesses and helped us be better people.

“She led the way to making Washington University a human place that cares for each individual, and she was always fun. We will all miss her.”

White earned a bachelor of arts degree from Harris-Stowe Teachers College in 1956 and taught in St. Louis public schools from 1956-1967. She earned a master’s in counseling and guidance in 1963 from WUSTL and a master of law degree from the School of Law in 1980.

Her community and public-service involvement was extensive. She chaired the board of directors of the Caring Program for Children, was past chair of the board of the St. Louis Bi-State Chapter of the American Red Cross, and served on the boards of the North Central Regional Board of the American Red Cross and Goodwill Industries of Missouri.

She was active in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, a public-service organization, since 1952. Her work with the sorority included serving as president of the St. Louis Alumnae Chapter and chairing the Habitat for Humanity Blitz, a project in which 15 affordable houses were built in July 1994 for low-income families in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

She joined the board of The Sheldon Concert Hall in 1994, playing a major role in the capital campaign to renovate and expand it. She chaired that board for three years and chaired The Sheldon’s first-ever endowment campaign.

She also was a member of the board of directors of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, RightChoice Managed Care Inc., and dba Blue Cross Blue Shield of Missouri, its not-for-profit subsidiary. She chaired the Girl Scout Council of Great St. Louis’ annual Urban Camp-out fund-raising event.

She received numerous recognitions for her professional and community contributions, including a 1995 St. Louis Women of Achievement award; State of Missouri American Red Cross Cultural Diversity Outreach Award; YWCA Leadership Award in 1992; the Dollars and Sense Outstanding Business and Professional Award in 1992; and citations in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who Among Black Americans, Who’s Who of American Women and Who’s Who Among International Women.

Upon her retirement in 1997, the University established an award in her name to be presented annually to a staff member who has made exceptional contributions to the University.

It was established in honor of the remarkable and exceptional contributions White made to the University and to encourage others, said Wrighton when he announced the creation of the award on Staff Day 1997.

White is survived by her husband, Glenn; a daughter, Terry Glover of Chicago; and two grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 26 in Graham Chapel. Organizers are asking attendees to arrive at a parking space 30-45 minutes before the memorial to allow ample time.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to one of the following: the Fortitude Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the United Way, Girls Inc. or the American Red Cross.

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