1932-2020: Louise White, Former Professor and Department Chair

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Louise White: ‘The world was a better place because Louise White was a part of it.’—Schar School Professor Emeritus Timothy Conlan

Originally published on January 5, 2021

Louise Giesey White, a longtime professor in George Mason University’s Department of Public and International Affairs (PIA, now part of the Schar School of Policy and Government), passed away in Darlington, S.C., on December 26. Her family announced the cause of death was complications from the novel coronavirus. She was 88.

Dr. White was the chair of PIA as well as director of the university’s International Institute from 1991 to 1998. She also served as director of the public administration doctoral program. In 1997, Mason awarded her its first International Educator of the Year award.

“I worked with Louise for two years after I arrived at Mason in 1987,” said Timothy Conlan, professor emeritus at the Schar School.  “She was a careful, thoughtful, efficient, and effective chair of our department.  Even more important, she was a wonderful human being. The world was a better place because Louise White was a part of it.”  

“While I never had the pleasure of working with Dr. White, as a fellow political scientist, I certainly knew of her work, especially her book, Political Analysis: Theory and Practice, which was a standard text for thousands of students over the years,” said Mark J. Rozell, dean of the Schar School. “Louise touched the lives of thousands of students over the years and helped to build Mason into what it is today."

Dr. White graduated magna cum laude from Smith College’s Department of Government in 1954, the year she married her husband, the Reverend Edward Allen White. In 1969 as a Danforth Graduate Fellow, Dr. White entered American University in 1969 and earned her PhD in political science in 1974. As an expert in international development, she traveled to many countries, serving as a consultant on projects for the World Bank and for USAID.

Dr. White is survived by her husband, Ed, her five children, 12 grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter. A memorial service will be planned for later, when friends and family can safely gather. Memorials may be made to Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church to support the ministries that were meaningful to her.