years ago, when Col. James S. White (U.S. Army, retired) stepped down as
Temple’s executive vice president, he left as one of the University’s most
“Jim White has had a unique and incredibly powerful impact on Temple and its
neighbors over the years he has been at the University,” said Richard J.
Fox, chairman of the Board of Trustees at the time of White’s retirement.
Indeed, other than Temple’s presidents past and present, few people can
claim to have shaped the look and feel of today’s Temple campuses more than
White. During his six-year tenure as executive vice president, a position
overseeing most of Temple’s non-academic activities and administrative
departments, White played a leadership role in the construction of the
Temple University Children’s Medical Center, the Shriners Hospital for
Crippled Children, the Liacouras Center, several dormitories, the Tuttleman
Learning Center, the Standby Electrical Generating Plant and numerous other
projects, including the renovation and modernization of many buildings and
When White retired, Richard Fox promised that Temple wouldn’t let White “get
too far away.” Sure enough, White soon was elected to the Board of Trustees,
where he has served Temple since 1999.
White’s devotion to the University and its students is permanently
memorialized at the first major construction project he led, the 558-bed
dormitory at 2108-50 N. Broad St., which was named the James S. White
Residence Hall in 1999.
“Every time I pass that building, it reminds me that I need to live up to
that honor,” White said. “It renews my sense of purpose to do the best I can
as a trustee, to support the leadership of the board and the University —
and to make Temple a better place for our students.”
White also helps improve life for Temple students living in residence halls
through the James S. White Scholarship, a $1,000 award given annually to
returning resident assistants who mirror his “personal integrity,
professional excellence and patient compassion.”
White’s record of public service began long before his years at Temple.
After graduating from Morgan State College in Baltimore in 1954, White began
a distinguished 23-year career in the Army.
A decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, White’s assignments took him to
Europe, Asia, Africa and installations throughout the United States, from
Fort Bragg, N.C., to the Pentagon. By the time he retired from the Army in
1977, White had become a distinguished graduate of the National War College
and had earned a master’s degree from George Washington University to add to
his many other awards and honors.
After moving to Philadelphia, White entered city government, serving as a
senior administrator in Philadelphia’s Office of Housing and Community
Development (1979–83), as commissioner of licenses and inspections (1984–85)
and finally as managing director of the City of Philadelphia (1985–90), a
position directing the city’s police, fire, streets, water, public health,
human services, recreation, public property, records and licenses and
inspections departments. The highest-ranking non-political appointee in the
city, he supervised 24,000 city workers and managed a $1.2 billion annual
After a short tenure as vice president and director of real estate
management at the Provident National Bank, White briefly ran for mayor in
After the campaign, Temple’s previous president, Peter J. Liacouras — who
had interacted regularly with White during White’s time working in city
government — offered him the opportunity to come to Temple as vice president
for public affairs, and later as executive vice president.
It took little convincing to bring White to Temple.
“I would not have come out of retirement had I not been a longtime admirer
of the University, its mission, its faculty and its graduates,” White said.
“Coming to Temple was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me.”
Since then, the pace of progressive change at Temple has continued to
increase, and White is proud of what the chairman of the Board of Trustees
and the president have accomplished.
“There are exciting things happening at Temple,” White said. “I’m encouraged
by the number of students living on or near the Main Campus, the
improvements in general education, the new faculty members, the continued
beautification of the campus, the sense of security — all of our campuses
are vibrant. I will do everything humanly possible as a trustee to continue
- By Hillel J. Hoffmann
© 2005 Temple Times