Chowan University President receives Honorary Doctorate
Dr. M. Christopher White, Chowan University President, received the Honorary Doctorate degree May 5, 2018 during the 170th Chowan University Anniversary Commencement Ceremony in recognition of 15 years of loyal service.
When Dr. White was named the twenty-second President of Chowan University in July 2003, Faith in your Future (the University motto) took on a new meaning. He revived the institution that was on the brink of closure, and has selflessly served Chowan as president for 15 years, a period of the institution’s most significant growth, prosperity, and promise. On June 1, he will transition to the role of Chancellor, after completing 32 years as a university president including his prior service at Gardner-Webb University.
Dr. White led Chowan from a potentially fatal financial crisis to its strongest position in history. Under his leadership, Chowan emerged with financial strength, completing every fiscal year in good standing. Board of Trustees member Jesse E. Vaughan recalled asking Dr. White one question during his interview, “Can you put Chowan’s budget in the black? He said, ‘I can.’ And he did it the first semester and continued to for the next 15 years.” “At the end of the year the auditors came in and said we were nine dollars and some change in the black, that’s the first time we had heard that in a long time,” added Board of Trustees member Bynum Brown.
Both the enrollment and the endowment more than doubled, with enrollment currently exceeding 1,500 students for the third consecutive year. For a period of eight years a new enrollment record was set each year, earning Chowan recognition as one of the fastest-growing universities in the nation. The size of the campus almost doubled and every existing building was completely renovated. Twelve new buildings were constructed, including the nine-building student apartment complex named Whites Crossing by the trustees in honor of Dr. and Mrs. White and their families.
The academic program was upgraded to University status and the current faculty is arguably the best prepared in the institution’s history. The intercollegiate athletic program was upgraded to NCAA II and competes successfully in the CIAA and Conference Carolinas. A significant part of Chowan’s resurgence has been an emphasis on the University’s Christian values. In that vein, the recruiting slogan Faith in your Future embodies the spirit and essence of Chowan University.
Board of Trustee Member Elaine Myers recalled asking Dr. White during his interview 15 years ago, “What can you bring to Chowan (referring to staff and resources)?” She continued, “Dr. White surrounds himself with good people.” It is often said about Dr. White that not only does his leadership inspire, but he intentionally builds power teams. He has a knack for seeing potential in others and provides them with opportunities that allow them to flourish as he personally guides them.
Outside of Chowan Dr. White is active in the Council of Independent Colleges and the North Carolina Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He has chaired numerous accreditation teams for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. He serves the community as a Rotarian and has worked with the Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Boy Scouts, YMCA, Foundation of the Carolinas, and historical associations. Pat McCrory, the governor of North Carolina bestowed on him the state’s highest honor – the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
The Board of Trustees of Chowan University now confers upon Dr. M. Christopher White the highest honor available, the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, for his faithful service as President of Chowan University for the past 15 years and for his service in Christian Higher Education in North Carolina as a University President for more than 30 years.
Dr. White’s forty-six-year career in higher education, including thirty-two as president, has been marked by the transformation of two struggling colleges into thriving regional universities. Dr. White will soon assume the role of Chancellor of Chowan University. The Whites will continue to make Murfreesboro their home, and he will assist the new president, help lead development efforts for needed resources and represent the institution throughout the region.
Join Chowan University in congratulating Dr. White on this tremendous honor.