LSU will remember Julian White as its first African American professor. White’s students will remember him as someone who invested in them. His colleagues will remember him as a friend.
In 1971, White joined the LSU faculty as a professor of architecture. His career with the College of Art + Design spanned 33 years, but his legacy continues.
“He was kind, but tough as a faculty member,” said Ken Carpenter, professor of architecture. “Yet, I think [his students] all understood that he cared about them. He knew them individually.”
White spent as much time as he could with his students. “Students, after they graduated, always looked back fondly on their classes with him,” Carpenter said. “They felt like they got more than their money’s worth out of those courses.”
Steve Dumez, a partner in the New Orleans architecture firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, remembers White as an engaged and demanding professor. “He required our best work and challenged us to produce just that,” Dumez said.
Dumez said White had a formative influence on his career, but also a subsequent influence as a mentor. “I would continue to seek his opinion on my work when he was no longer my teacher,” he recalled.
Dumez’s partners, Allen Eskew and Mark Ripple, are also LSU graduates, and all three men benefited from White’s leadership inside and outside of school. “Allen was at LSU when Julian joined the faculty, and Mark and I were both students of his,” Dumez said, adding, “His teaching had an impact that was felt across the school, whether or not you had him as a professor.”
In recognition of those experiences, one of the first major contributors to the Julian T. White Memorial Scholarship was Eskew+Dumez+Ripple. “We support it because of the role Julian played in each of our careers and education,” Dumez said. “Honoring him with this scholarship honors the tradition of enlightened education at the school.”
Fellow alumnus Jim Furr also contributed through his architecture firm, Gensler. Furr sees philanthropy as a way for people to demonstrate their pride in LSU.
Furr explained, “It’s the most direct way to support students and recognize those students who have potential to excel not only in the university, but in the larger design and business community as well.”
Published in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2013.