Black women are breaking racial and gender barriers in academia. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dr. Lori S. White has been appointed as the president of DePauw University, making her the first woman and African American to sit at the helm of the Indiana-based liberal arts school.
Dr. White has dedicated over three decades of her career to the enhancement of student development at higher education institutions. Prior to her appointment, she served as the vice chancellor for student affairs at Washington University in St. Louis. She’s also held leadership roles surrounding student support at San Diego State University, the University of Southern California and Southern Methodist University. Dr. White—who has penned several book chapters and articles—has also conducted research surrounding the student experience on college campuses. She has served on several boards including the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and the Association for Sustainability in Higher Education.
In her new role, which she will officially start on July 1, she will be responsible for pushing the institution’s initiatives surrounding diversity and inclusion forward, evolving DePauw’s liberal arts and sciences programs and leading the university through changes while keeping its students’ needs at the core of its mission. She succeeds Mark McCoy who has been in the position since 2016. Dr. White—an alum of the University of California, Berkeley who also holds a doctorate from Stanford University and has studied at Harvard University—is beyond excited to take on the role. “Throughout my career my commitment has been grounded in what I believe are the distinctive values of liberal arts universities such as DePauw,” she said in a statement. “More than ever, our world needs individuals who are thinkers, problem-solvers and innovators who understand the value of diversity, consider ideas using an interdisciplinary lens and are brave enough to challenge the status quo.”
Dr. White’s appointment comes at a time when there is a need for more diversity in higher education. A study conducted by the American Council on Education revealed that a mere 5 percent of college presidents are women of color.