The NC Watermelon Festival Committee is pleased to announce that Dr. Chris White, President of Chowan University, has been named as the Grand Marshal of the 2016 NC Watermelon Festival Parade. This year’s festival theme is “A Salute to Chowan University” in recognition of the contributions the University makes to the Town of Murfreesboro and the region. White is the 22nd President of Chowan and has held the position since July 1, 2003. The Festival parade will be held on Saturday, August 6 at 10:00 a.m. in downtown Murfreesboro. The parade is a highlight of the festival events and is the largest agricultural parade in the State.
A native of Hartwell, Georgia, Dr. White earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics and English from Mercer University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude, third in his class. Continuing his education at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, Dr. White received the Master of Divinity degree, graduating second in his class. He also pursued graduate studies in religion at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia from which he earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree. He was also the first United States citizen to be awarded the honorary Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the prestigious Moscow State Conservatory of Music in Russia for his support of music and the arts in higher education.
His professional career began at Elon University and served there from 1972-1986 as a faculty and staff member. Most of his work was as Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, but earlier he was the Dean of Academic Affairs, professor of Religion, and Chair, Department of Religion.
Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC elected Dr. White as President in 1986. He served in this capacity until 2002, a tenure of over sixteen years. Under his leadership Gardner-Webb was transformed from a small college into a regional university, more than doubled its enrollment to almost 4,000, increased the endowment 800%, improved student quality significantly, enhanced the campus with numerous capital projects, increased faculty and staff salaries to the upper quartile in North Carolina, added doctoral programs and upgraded the athletic program to NCAA Division I.
In 1993, Dr. White was instrumental in establishing a School of Divinity at Gardner-Webb University. The school has prospered and now enrolls over 200 students in Master’s and doctoral programs. In 1998 the trustees honored him by naming the school The M. Christopher White School of Divinity.
Having assumed the presidency in July 2003, Dr. White’s tenure at Chowan University has been marked with significant progress in many ways.
- Transformed Chowan into a successful regional university
- Fastest growing private school in North Carolina past eight years
- Setting yearly records in gifts
- Numerous campus renovation projects completed or underway
- Academic Honors Program
- Ministerial Board of Associates organized and functioning
- Chowan Christian Service Association initiated to increase scholarship funding for ministerial students
- Organized and conducted Chowan’s study-abroad experiences in Turkey, Greece, Italy, Israel, Egypt, England, Germany, France, Switzerland and Scotland
- Joined the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), and had numerous teams in national tournaments
- Led Chowan’s transition from NCAA II and membership in the CIAA and the NCCAA
- Significant building projects completed – nine new residence halls, championship tennis complex, new athletics complex, new football center, maintenance facility and competition swimming pool
- Doubled the university endowment
- Expanded the campus to more than 400 acres
Dr. White is married to Linda Fleming White of Hartwell, Georgia. They have two sons: Martin Lynn White, an attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Andrew Christopher White, a hedge fund manager in West Palm Beach, Florida. Andrew is married to Karen Carley. Martin is married to Heather Robertson, a gynecologist/obstetrician. Dr. and Mrs. White have six grandchildren.