FREDERICK, Md (WDVM) — After more than two decades of service, Hood College is saying farewell to one of their own.
“For anyone who never met Dean White, I would just describe her as out of this world and so optimistic. She is just someone who brings positive energy into any situation,” explained senior Hood College student, Christian Hoch.
As president of the Hood College Student Government Association, Hoch has visited the office of Olivia White many times.
White has been the vice president for student life and dean of students for 26 years. She’s been a part of higher education administration for more than 40 years.
White graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in biology. After graduation, she recalls taking a position within a lab at the College of Dental Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina.
“I think I talked more than I did my lab work,” Dean White said with a laugh.
White then became a recruiter for the program, focused on reaching out to potential female students to increase diversity.
“That’s how I got into this work, actually,” White explained, “I actually traveled to all of the colleges in South Carolina and met with students and enjoyed being on a college campus.”
White was appointed to Hood College in 1992 as assistant dean of students and director of student activities, and director of multicultural affairs. She was quickly promoted to oversee student day-to-day life on-campus as vice president of student life.
“Over the years we have taken more of a holistic approach in working with students,” White explained, “That’s what student life is about, dealing with the entire student, not just the academic side of things.”
In her role, White has worked to increased programming and events to broaden cultural experiences and understanding.
According to a press release, in 2014 White co-chaired the Hood College Planning Committee for Realizing the Dream, a year-long series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act featuring guest lectures, performances, documentaries, the historic Sept. 26, 2014 March on Frederick, and a conference on contemporary Civil Rights issues.
When tensions were high last year after racist incidents on-campus, students and staff responded with a ‘No Hate at Hood’ march.
“The campus climate, it was off and you could feel it,” Hoch explained, “We wanted to have a walk where we went across campus and just said this message that we do accept others for who they are.”
“One of the things that I’m very proud of is putting together a bias incident response,” White said, “Looking at what do we have already on campus, how are we addressing this; that students and members of the community would know where to go.”
White’s desk is decorated with dozens of photographs, many taken with current and former students.
She’ll soon gather them as she clears out her office and steps away as dean to begin retirement.
“I will miss being at Hood [College] because Hood has been so good to me. It’s been a part of my life, a significant part of my life,” White said.
White explained that part of her decision to enter retirement is to spend more time with her 95-year-old mother and her own children.
White’s last day will be on or around July 1, 2020.