Remembering Former Faculty Chair John P. White

| Dec. 20, 2018

On September 3, 2017, MEI joined the Belfer Center and Harvard Kennedy School communities in mourning the loss of former MEI Faculty Chair John P. White, who passed away at the age of 80. A former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, Harvard Kennedy School Professor, and member of the Belfer Center’s Board of Directors, White was remembered most poignantly as a “dear friend and close colleague,” by Belfer Center Director Ash Carter and all who knew and worked with him.

John White began his Faculty Chairmanship in February 2001, two years a er joining the faculty of Harvard Kennedy School in 1998 as Lecturer in Public Policy and later Robert and Renée Belfer Lecturer, a position which he held until 2012. Carter and White co-taught courses on national security strategy and management during their shared tenure from 1998- 2008. White was awarded the Kennedy School’s Manuel Carballo Teaching Award in 2004 for his dedication
to students, excellence in the professional eld, and commitment to public service. He stepped down as MEI Faculty Chair in 2010, handing the reigns to Professor and Ambassador Nicholas Burns.

In government, White served as Deputy Secretary of Defense from 1995-1997, Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1978 to 1981, and Assistant Secretary of Defense, Manpower, Reserve A airs and Logistics from 1977 to 1978. He is also credited with providing the intellectual foundation for independent presidential candidate RossPerot’s economic plan in 1992. Later, he served with Carter on then-Presi-dent-elect Barack Obama’s defense and intelligence transition team, as co-chair with Michele Flournoy. White received a B.S. from Cornell University in 1959 and then earned his master’s in economics and public administration in 1964 and Ph.D. in labor economics in 1969, both from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School.

In addition to his numerous professional and academic accomplishments, John White is remembered as a beloved friend and colleague. “John was always caring and paid particular attention to mentoring the next generation of government leaders with whom he worked on a daily basis,” remembers Hilary Rantisi, Director of MEI. “I learned a tremendous amount while working with him, and he provided support for a range of new initiatives that I brought to him, which are now cornerstones of the programs we provide to the HKS community. He is certainly missed.”

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Mawhorter, Christopher, ed. Remembering Former Faculty Chair John P. White.” (December 20, 2018).