After years of dedicated service to the
University, former interim President B. Joseph White has been
selected as the 16th president of the University of Illinois
system, which includes about 70,000 students on campuses in
Chicago, Springfield and Urbana-Champaign. The Board of Trustees is
expected to approve his nomination on Nov. 11, and his term will
begin Feb. 1, 2005. During his time at the University, White
contributed in immeasurable ways. He will certainly be missed.

Angela Cesere

White served as the dean of the Business School from 1991
through July 2001. Under his leadership, the Business School
achieved a number of top rankings for its programs, increased its
annual fundraising from $5.5 million to $26.5 million and expanded
its endowment from $35 million to $260 million. In 2002, when
former University President Lee Bollinger left the University to
accept the position of president at Columbia University, White
served as interim president. He stepped down from that position and
took a leave of absence when the University Board of Regents named
Mary Sue Coleman as University president in 2002. Earlier this
year, White returned to the University as a member of the Life
Sciences Institute faculty, where his main focus has been on the
effects of genomic-based science and medicine in the fields of
business, ethics and economics.

As a senior fellow and board member of the William Davidson
Institute at the Business School and as its president from 1992 to
2001, White oversaw establishment of the Institute. It focuses on
issues involving emerging market economies around the world and
lured former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as its first
distinguished scholar. White has further contributed to the
University as the chair of the Academic Program Group’s
Advisory Council on the Environment, as a member of the Athletic
Director Search Committee and as a member of the Executive
Committee of the Institute for Social Research. White spread his
influence and efforts throughout the entire University; he did not
merely focus on one program or group, but made it clear that he
truly and genuinely cared about the University as a whole.

He continued that concern as interim president. When the New Era
Cap Co. was found to be in violation of the University’s code
of conduct, as its labor standards were substandard, White
responded to student protest and made the difficult decision to cut
the University’s contract with New Era. Responding to student
activism, White signed off on one of the most progressive labor
contracts at any university in the nation when the University
approved a groundbreaking deal with the Graduate Employees
Organization. The deal dramatically improved the compensation
package for graduate student instructors, offering better child
care services, higher pay and a promise not to discriminate against
international graduate students.

Above all else, what made White such a memorable member of the
University’s community was the way in which he showed concern
for students. He maintained a high level of academic excellence as
well as a sense of approachability. One example of this was his
manner of replying to students’ questions and concerns. When
a student e-mailed him, he would not breeze through a generic
response, but rather set aside time to read and respond
thoughtfully. Former Michigan Student Assembly President Sarah Boot
praised White, commenting, “Although his schedule was
terribly busy and demanding, he made time for students again and
again.” In giving him an award for his service, she thanked
him for “treating us (students) with such respect and

The University of Illinois is extremely excited for
White’s arrival. “Joe White was the clear choice for
president of the university in an exceptional field of highly
qualified candidates,” said Illinois Board of Trustees
Chairman Lawrence C. Eppley. “He has a track record and a
national reputation as a creative leader who sets highly aspiring
goals and gets results.”

While White has been at a number of institutions throughout his
academic and professional career, he has said that the University
of Michigan will always have a special place in his heart. We are
certain that White will make countless positive contributions to
the University of Illinois, and while we are sure to miss his
presence in Ann Arbor, we wish him the best of luck.

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