James S. White

Seven 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 respected administrators.

“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 classrooms.

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 budget.

After a short tenure as vice president and director of real estate management at the Provident National Bank, White briefly ran for mayor in 1991.

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 that improvement.”

- By Hillel J. Hoffmann

2005 Temple Times