Dr. Patrick E. White to take over as interim president

Denny Patterson

It has officially been announced that Dr. Patrick E. White will assume the duties of interim president on July 1. White will relieve current interim Rich Dusnworth and will be in office for 12 to 18 months while a national search is conducted for the institution’s fifteenth president.

White was found through Dr. Jamie Ferrare, the senior principal for AGB (Association of Governing Boards) Search. Members from the board of trustees are a part of AGB helping out with retreats and projects and company has a branch that conducts searches for higher educators.

“Dr. White is easy to talk to and approachable,” Dunsworth said. “I believe he is the ideal candidate for an interim president. He will be great at helping the campus think through what we want for the next president and ensuring that students are being served at the highest caliber. He’s accustomed to small and intimate surroundings and is committed to undergraduate teaching.”

White, originally from Dixon, Ill., is currently the president at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind. Throughout his seven years as Wabash’s president, he has created a student-focused strategic plan, fought through financial troubles and has secured numerous grants to develop and establish new programs. He has earned an A.B in English, a M.A. in English and a doctorate in English and literature. Before Wabash, White was the Vice President and Dean of Faculty at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind. He is beyond excited about coming to Millikin.

“I am looking forward to many things in my role as interim president at Millikin,” White said. “I am fired up about so many aspects of Millikin, the reality of MU’s success and the vivid sense of Millikin’s promise. I want to get to know Millikin well and fast so that I can be an advocate for its excellence and help lead the university in positive directions.”
An interim president is not expected to start any type of strategic planning or undo any of the progress that has already been put in place, but they are expected to implement what has already been decided. They will ready the campus for the next president.

“I am very interested in what we can do to enhance the brand of “performance learning and the vital mission of the university,” White said. “To join the practical and the theoretical, the world of learning and the world of action, the nurturing of the self and the development of the community. This is an angle on education that people all over the world are reaching to get right.

“Millikin University has the capacity, history and vision to be a leader in this effort. I want to learn and understand more what students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and the Board of Trustees most value about the Millikin experience. I look forward to working with the talented cabinet of senior officers and all leaders of the College including student leaders. I have only met a couple of students and a few faculty and administrators and am eager to get to know many more members of the Millikin family.

“Several Wabash men have told me that they have texted their Millikin friends about me, so I look forward to meeting those students. I am very excited about working with a talented and engaged faculty and staff to nurture the development of all of our students and colleagues for the betterment of Millikin.”

As for the search for the university’s next president, the Board of Trustees held a meeting on April 5, and the composition of the search committee has been decided. The committee will consist of six trustees or emeritus trustees, five will be from the university either recommended by the counsel on faculty from the full time faculty, or appointed by the chairman from the Board of Trustees. AGB and Ferrare will also be helping with the search. Finalizations will be made at the May 18 board meeting.

Dunsworth says that the process is moving smoothly, and it’s on an appropriate time table. However, the biggest challenge is to not let the future detract from today.

“The challenge is focusing on the students and making decisions for the future,” he said. “Sometimes we’re so preoccupied with what we are doing next year that we need to balance what we’re doing right now. Students are still earning a degree worthy of having the Millikin name and seal on it, even if there’s transition in leadership.”