By Daniel Schemer, August 2010
Steven White is a popular professor amongst both students and colleagues at UMass Dartmouth. With a unique sense of humor, charisma, and approachability, Dr. White strives to create a positive environment for everyone to learn and succeed in. “The joy of being a professor is the interaction with students and stimulating their intellectual growth and success. The fun comes from building something new and from sharing the experience with a great team of colleagues. I try to approach each day as a gift.” Outgoing, gregarious, personable and competitive, despite the mountain of work and responsibilities on a given week, he miraculously retains a sunny disposition and joking nature. “My teaching style is the same as my leadership style --I'm open and approachable. I try to bring out the best in my students, to motivate them to do well and to prepare them for successful careers.”
Being Interim Director for the Sustainability Studies Department isn’t too big a challenge for Dr. White. As Chairperson of the Department of Management & Marketing and Professor of Marketing & International Business for the Charlton College of Business, he has been a seminal figure for sustainability and social-conscious on campus for over 10 years. “We have a responsibility to provide our children and grandchildren with a world in better shape than we found it and to minimize our negative impact on the planet.” When former Director Dr. Garry Clayton accepted a once in a lifetime opportunity in Malaysia, everyone involved saw Dr. White as the perfect fit. “Our belief is that the sustainability studies academic unit is positioned for rapid growth over the next decade.” In addition to continuing and expanding course offerings for the Sustainability Minor and Online Certificate Program, all those involved with the department are working on new degree programs. “In one year we'd like to have an undergraduate major, a graduate certificate program and approval for a graduate degree program. With the team that we have in place, nothing is unachievable, so why not dream big?”
His passion for sustainability was nurtured and encouraged in the Management and Marketing Department of CCB, whom was one of the first active campaigners for green initiatives on campus. His department founded SIFE, the International Business Association, and the Dartmouth Chapter of Net Impact, an international organization that promotes sustainable business practices and integrating sustainability into the curriculum; it is one of only 2 Silver-designated chapters in the state. The department’s extensive incorporation of sustainability into academics includes creating new courses, bringing it into the Sustainability Minor, providing offerings for the MBA program, and engaging in a variety of student and faculty research projects associated with sustainable economic development.
“The importance of sustainability, especially from a business perspective, has increased dramatically over the last decade. The need for adopting sustainable living and business practices is only going to increase as the global population increases over the next couple of decades,” said Dr. White. Another example of his dedication is, as part of an annual spring semester course, Dr. White worked with other professors to take between 15 and 30 students overseas on alternative spring break trips that focused on sustainable economic development. Between 2000 and 2008, he took 200+ students to 22 cities in 14 countries across Europe, South America, and Central America.
Born and raised in Western Ohio, Steven White’s childhood idol was Jacques Cousteau. “I wanted to be Jacques Cousteau when I was growing up (what kid didn't?), but focused too much on sports and socializing in school to earn the grades needed to get into a biology or marine science program in college.” Additional personal heroes include John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, and “basically anyone who stands up for what is right and against injustice,” or those who pursue their passion.
Steve White has degrees from Cleveland State University (DBA, 1996; MBA, 1991) and Bowling Green State University (MA, 1987; BSBA, 1985). It was his father who got him interested in marketing because he worked in the field for the sporting goods industry. While getting his degrees, Dr. White worked in the alpine ski industry for over 12 years as a ski and bike technician/mechanic, ski instructor and tennis racquet stringer. He eventually went straight into the role of vice president at a specialty advertising agency owned by a former owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. There he promoted sporting events, including a couple of minor basketball leagues in Canada, and specialized in recruitment advertising. Mr. White worked at the agency for the first 18 months of its existence then shifted as a consultant and research director on retainer for fourteen years.
After over a decade of living, getting further degrees, and working in Cleveland, Steve White wanted a change in lifestyle and the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Both his wife and former Marketing department Chairperson Dr. Jack Chopoorian conspired to convince him to move to Massachusetts and take a teaching position at UMass Dartmouth in September 1998. “I'm indebted to them both.”
His research interests include green business, international marketing, global and social entrepreneurship, global e-commerce, and international business education. He’s a member of Net Impact, the Academy of International Business, a global community of scholars and researchers dedicated to international business and policy issues, and the University of the People, a tuition-free online institution dedicated to bringing university-level higher education to people across the world through the internet. Additionally, he has received the Charlton College of Business Higginson Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Though he didn’t fulfill his dream of being Jacques Cousteau, he finally earned his PADI diving certification in 2003. He adds that, “I'm happy to be at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, to be involved in the Sustainability Initiative, to be part of a successful and winning team and to make a positive contribution to the region, the state and the world. Happiness is a choice.”