A native Arkansan, John A. White, Jr., is a 1962 BSIE graduate of the University of Arkansas. After a brief period of employment at Tennessee Eastman Company, in March of 1963, he embarked on an academic career as a tenure-track instructor at Virginia Tech, from which he received his MSIE degree in 1966. From 1963 to 1966, he taught full-time at Virginia Tech. For the next 3.5 years, he taught at The Ohio State University while pursuing his doctorate. After completing the PhD requirements in December of 1969, he returned to Virginia Tech’s faculty, where he remained until December of 1974, at which time he joined the Georgia Tech faculty. He remained on the Georgia Tech faculty until 1997, when he returned to his undergraduate alma mater to be its chancellor. He stepped down from the chancellor position in 2018 and currently serves as a distinguished professor in the UA industrial engineering department.
Except for a 3-year period (1988 to 1991) when he was “on loan” by Georgia Tech to the National Science Foundation to lead the Engineering Directorate, White continued to teach engineering students, including 3.5 years at Ohio State, 8.5 years at Virginia Tech, 22.5 years at Georgia Tech, and 21 years at Arkansas. In total, he has taught more than 4,000 engineering students. While Georgia Tech’s Dean of Engineering and Chancellor of the University of Arkansas, he taught undergraduate classes. In addition to holding BSIE, MSIE, and PhD degrees, he is the recipient of honorary doctorates from the Katholieke Universitiet of Leuven in Belgium and George Washington University.
A member of the National Academy of Engineering, White served two six-year terms on the National Science Board. In addition, he served as: president and director of the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award; president of the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE); chairman of the American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES); and president of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. (GEM). A Fellow of ASEE, INFORMS, and IIE and a member of Alpha Pi Mu, Golden Key, Omega Rho, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, and Tau Beta Pi, and included in numerous Who’s Who listings, ranker.com ranks him the seventh “most famous” industrial engineer.
Among White’s awards are: NSF's Distinguished Service Award; ASEE's National Engineering Economy Teaching Excellence Award, Donald E. Marlowe Distinguished Education Administration Award, and its John L. Imhoff Global Excellence Award; the Rodney D. Chipp Memorial Award from the Society of Women Engineers; IIE's highest award, the Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Industrial Engineering Award; IIE's David F. Baker Distinguished Research Award; IIE's Albert G. Holzman Distinguished Educator Award; IIE's Outstanding Publication Award; IIE's Book of the Year Award (three times); IIE’s Wellington Award; Virginia Tech’s Academy of Engineering Excellence; Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Arkansas; Distinguished Alumnus of The Ohio State University; Georgia Tech's Teacher of the Year; and the University of Arkansas Outstanding Teaching Award.
White is co-author of six texts: Facility Layout and Location: An Analytical Approach, Prentice-Hall (2 editions); Analysis of Queueing Systems, Academic Press; Principles of Engineering Economic Analysis, John Wiley & Sons (6 editions); Capital Investment Decision Analysis for Management and Engineering, Prentice-Hall (3 editions); Facilities Planning, John Wiley & Sons (4 editions), and Fundamentals of Engineering Economic Analysis, John Wiley & Sons. He has authored or co-authored hundreds of papers in journals, trade magazines, and conference proceedings.
White served as a member of the Board of Directors for Eastman Chemical Company, J. B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., Logility, Inc., Motorola, Inc. (and Motorola Solutions, Inc.), Russell Corporation, and CAPS Logistics, Inc. His industrial and consulting experience includes employment with Eastman Chemical Company, Ethyl Corporation, and Rockwell, Inc. He has served as a consultant to AT&T, Briggs & Stratton, Coca-Cola, Corning, duPont, Federal Reserve Bank, Ford, IBM, L. L. Bean, Tektronix, Texas Instruments, U.S. Navy, Westinghouse, and Xerox, among others. He founded a logistics consulting firm, SysteCon, Inc., and served as its chairman until its acquisition by Coopers & Lybrand.