Dean Pamela White retiring from the ‘best job she’s ever had’

Pamela White, dean of the College of Human Sciences, has announced that she will be retiring in spring 2016.  

Courtesy of College of Human Sciences

Pamela White, dean of the College of Human Sciences, has announced that she will be retiring in spring 2016.  

Greg Zwiers

Pamela White found a photo stapled to some mail the other day from one of the last research groups she worked with before taking over as dean of the College of Human Sciences.

“That was just such a fun group to be able to work with,” she said. “It kind of is the best of both worlds because you have that opportunity to really follow this creative bent in your research and then have all these folks who work with you at the same time.”

White announced she will retire at the end of the spring 2016 semester after 40 years at Iowa State, 10 of which she served as an interim or fully-appointed dean. She has been the dean of the College of Human Sciences since April 2009 and said it is the best job she’s ever had.

The students she worked with as a researcher would often get together for lab group meetings, or lunch at Old Chicago, and share what they were working on in their different research projects. White has been recognized as a leader in food science research, specifically in complex carbohydrates and edible oils.

After receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Washington, she came to Iowa State on a nine-month lecturer contract.

“During that year I thought this is what I want to do. I want to be in an academic university environment and if I’m going to do this for my career, I’m going to need a Ph.D.,” White said.

She began her Ph.D. program at Iowa State the next semester.

“We will miss Dean White and wish her the very best in her retirement,” Cathann Kress, vice president for extension and outreach, and Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said in a joint statement. Dean White excelled as dean of the College of Human Sciences. 

Kress and Wintersteen are co-chairs of the search committee to find White’s replacement.

White is a former president of the American Oil Chemist’s Society and was named a fellow by them in 2004. She served as associate editor of the Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society for 14 years. 

White was named a 2013 fellow by AACC International, a nonprofit professional organization for researchers advancing cereal grain science and its product development applications.

White and her husband look forward to being able to enjoy their retirement while they are both in good health. They plan to first travel the U.K and then across the U.S and Canada. Their daughter has a pair of twins that are almost a year old. White is excited to spend time with their grandkids.

“We have rarely had the opportunity to just relax entirely and leave the job behind,” White said. “Being able to retire and have more leisure time to be able to do the things we want to do, that’s really one of the main things.”

The College of Human Sciences had seen a 52 percent increase in enrollment since White took over at the formation of the college. 

Extension and outreach has been fully integrated into the college and it has raised the majority of funds for refurbishing projects at Lagomarcino Hall, McKay Hall and the Forker Building.

“We have a wonderful leadership team in the college and it just seems that we’ve been able to accomplish so much,” White said.

She has a lot of pride in her colleagues’ ability to work together to grow the college and improve the experience for student, faculty and staff.

A search committee with faculty, staff, students and external stakeholders is being formed to find White’s replacement, said Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert. He has asked for recommendations for the search committee to be sent to [email protected] or to Julie Johnson at [email protected].

“My goal is for the committee to be very diverse and bring a lot of different perspectives and ideas to the search process,” Wickert said.

Wickert said the dean of the College of Human Sciences is in an outstanding position and believes that will help attract strong candidates. 

The goal is to have a new dean chosen by the end of the year to make the transition as seamless as possible.

“The next dean is going to be a strong collaborator, as we expect for all of our deans, and I expect the next dean of human sciences will strengthen and grow collaborations between human sciences and all of the other colleges on campus and with all of our partners around the state,” Wickert said.