Dr. David White has spent the last 10 years leading Phenix City’s Troy University campus as its Vice Chancellor. He officially retired last week from the position. He spent 24 years with the university, but his time as the Vice Chancellor allowed him to get involved in the community in a way that he loved.
“I really enjoyed working with the chamber,” White said of being on the board of the East Alabama Chamber of Commerce. He attended meetings as an ex officio member and then was voted on the board of directors. “Any good community has a strong chamber,” he said. “I think the strength of the chamber magnifies other things the community is doing.”
He also got to be involved in the Alabama Bicentennial Committee and the Art Park committee, among many other things.
“I enjoyed my time on the bicentennial committee. It was an opportunity for me to learn a lot about the history of the area. We had great projects that will be lasting. I loved my time on the Art Park [committee]. It was unique working with a group of artists and folks that were trying to move art forward in our larger community and region,” he said.
All of these things, he hopes to continue now that he is retired.
“I love this area. I’m going to leverage a lot of the community work I’ve been involved in the last 10 years and just stay with it. I’ve got more time to give to that now. Community engagement is where my heart is and that’s where I’ll put my efforts,” he said.
Community engagement wasn’t part of his earlier career with Troy University. For 14 years, White worked with Global Campus.
“It was more of an entrepreneurial role. We would start sites in areas where we saw a market. We would close sites when the market wasn’t good. It was a bit like a startup company. It was innovative. It was opportunistic. And it was all focused on the working adult,” White said.
When he was appointed to the role of Vice Chancellor, he had missions to bring Columbus and Fort Benning under Phenix City’s campus, strengthen the relationship with Chattahoochee Valley Community College, and raise money for the riverfront campus. He was able to accomplish all of those things.
While he always intended for higher education to be a second career, White did not expect to stay with Troy for 24 years.
“I thought it would be a transition school for me to go on to a larger university. But I liked it so much, I never looked back,” he said.
White was retired from a 26-year career with the military. He felt it was his duty to serve. Throughout his time in the military, he lived in Italy and Germany – both of which he loved. He hopes to travel back to Europe now that he is retired. In addition to traveling overseas, he and his wife enjoy traveling across the U.S. California wine country is a favorite of theirs.
White doesn’t leave without advice. As much time as he has spent volunteering in the community, he hopes to see others get involved, too.
“Communities move forward the best when young people are engaged in that movement and not just the establishment. Young people help point the city in a direction that makes sense to the word they will be living in. Getting engaged early is important. Getting involved in community activities and events is a great opportunity to practice and hone your own leadership skills,” he said.
White has been married to Susan, his wife of 50 years. He has two adult sons and seven grandchildren. White served as the second vice chancellor in the history of the Phenix City Campus, following founding administrator Dr. Curtis Pitts.