Patrick E. White
President, Millikin University
A.B., English (with honors), University of Chicago, 1971
M.A., English, University of Iowa, 1975
Ph.D., English and American Literature, University of Iowa, 1980
Dr. Patrick White was elected the 15th president of Millikin University in October 2013, having joined the University as interim president in July of that same year. Under his leadership, Millikin has been revitalized and reimagined through a commitment to Millikin’s signature Performance Learning and a new energy for growth in academic and athletic programs, student body, and campus facilities.
In 2015, Millikin completed its “Transform MU” capital campaign 14 months early, exceeding its $85 million goal by over $10 million. This successful initiative led to the design and construction of innovative, transformative facilities on the University’s campus. The Workman Family Softball Field, one of the best in the nation, was unveiled for the spring 2017 softball season. The $31 million University Commons, which serves as the “front door and main street” to campus, opened in August 2017 and houses the Staley Library; the Doug and Diane Oberhelman Center for Leadership Performance; the University dining hall; and additional spaces designed for collaborative use by faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community.
Under Dr. White’s guidance, Millikin University officially opened the new on-campus home of the Big Blue Baseball program with the dedication of the new Workman Family Baseball Field on Sept. 27, 2019. This new facility seats 459 spectators and features an all-weather artificial turf field, stadium seating, clubhouse, lights, press box, concessions and batting cages. Millikin is the only school in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) with an on-campus baseball-only facility with a full turf field and clubhouse.
The University’s new Center for Theatre & Dance will be completed in fall 2020. For the first time, Millikin’s School of Theatre and Dance will have a facility equal in quality and potential to its national reputation. This $29 million state-of-the-art facility will feature a 260-seat flexible theatre with orchestra pit and balcony, lighting and sound labs, a costume studio, collaboration spaces, costume and design classrooms, modern equipment and office space for current staff with room for growth.
Millikin University thrives as an institution committed to empowering students to perform their education in whatever field they engage, ensuring confident, successful graduates. As President, Pat White is seen constantly encouraging students in every aspect of their life and learning. Through Performance Learning, the hallmark of Millikin students is that they can DO what they know. President White is engaged in affirming that performance throughout our student’s experience. This unique learning method affords students the opportunity to synthesize the knowledge they have practiced and developed in the classroom with hands-on application in real-world settings via internships, management of student-run business ventures, and more. This commitment to academic success manifests itself in professional readiness of mind, heart, and spirit. Last year, 99% of Millikin graduates gained employment or admission into professional or graduate school within six months of graduation. What is more through performance learning, Millikin students gain the confidence, skills, and disposition to be nimble and flexible in a constantly changing world.
Prior to serving Millikin as its president, Dr. White served seven years as the 15th president of Wabash College, a private liberal arts college for men, located in Crawfordsville, Ind. During his tenure at Wabash, Dr. White developed a student-focused strategic plan and guided the college through the financial turmoil of 2008 and 2009. He completed a comprehensive academic program review and unqualified Self-Study Report that led to the College’s reaccreditation. Dr. White secured a number of grants to establish new programs, achieved success in the Challenge of Excellence capital campaign that exceeded its $60 million goal, and completed a $6 million campaign focused on updating Wabash’s outdoor athletic facilities.
Previously, Dr. White served as vice president and dean of faculty at Saint Mary’s College, a women’s college in Notre Dame, Ind., from 2002 to 2006. Before that time, he served as the associate dean of faculty from 1988 to 2002 and served as founding director of the Center for Academic Innovation while teaching courses in film, literature and linguistics as a professor of English. Dr. White led a number of academic initiatives at Saint Mary’s and raised over $23 million in external support through grants supporting programs in women’s intellectual leadership, curriculum innovation and collaborative research occurring both among faculty and between faculty and students. Dr. White was also one of the designers of Saint Mary’s Center for Women’s InterCultural Leadership, a Lilly Endowment-funded initiative.
During the earliest part of his career, Dr. White taught at Westmar College in Le Mars, Iowa from 1976 to 1985, then the chair of the Department of Language and Literature at Pfeiffer College in Misenheimer, N.C., from 1985 to 1988. He earned an A.B. with honors in English from the University of Chicago in 1971, an M.A. from the University of Iowa in 1975 and a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from the University of Iowa in 1980.
Dr. White has written extensively on literature, popular culture, leadership and the visual arts, and he has written two prize-winning one-act plays. He served for over 20 years as an associate editor of the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism and seven years as a regional editor for the New Art Examiner.
Dr. White and his wife, Chris, a certified family nurse practitioner and long-time faculty member at the Indiana University-South Bend School of Nursing, have twin daughters, Katie and Molly; a son, Paddy; a daughter-in-law, Eileen; and two grandchildren, Norah and Oliver.
Millikin University is a private, comprehensive institution with a diverse population of approximately 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students. From the beautiful 75-acre campus in the heart of Decatur, Ill., Millikin students choose from more than 50 academic programs within the University’s College of Fine Arts, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Professional Studies and Tabor School of Business. Millikin consistently receives recognition as one of the nation’s best colleges. Recently, the University was named to The Princeton’s Review’s list of “The Best Midwest Colleges for 2020,” as well as the list of “America’s Top Colleges” by Forbes – a distinguished list of which Millikin has annually been a part since 2009. Publications including The Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly and U.S. News & World Report have also recognized Millikin University’s accomplishments.