Even though Andrew White earned his own college degrees elsewhere, there is no questioning his love for Eastern Illinois University.
"I tell people I bleed blue and gray," says White, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science who completed the entirety of his formal education at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. "Although I didn't attend school here as a student, Eastern gave me the opportunity to achieve a life dream of teaching people who want to be teachers. I love SIUE, but EIU is my adopted home and school."
White certainly has made himself at home in Charleston. In addition to his daily task of teaching Mathematics Education courses, White serves as an advisor to mathematics majors pursuing teacher certification. He also acts as a Fellowship of Christian Athletes advisor, an advisor to the Math-Literature Connection, a member of Faculty Senate, and a member of the Health Advisory Board. White's additional service includes stints on the Admissions Council, Intercollegiate Athletic Board, and the Commencement Committee along with 11 years as the cheerleading coach/advisor.
Exactly what drives one to get that involved? During his first semester on campus, White says he drew particular inspiration from a conversation with former President Lou Hencken, who at that time was still serving as Vice President for Student Affairs.
"(Hencken) told me to get involved with the campus," remembers White. "I did so and have never looked back. Attending athletic contests, plays and concerts caused me to see all the great work being done by our talented students, and I wanted to do more."
From that advice, White drew not only the encouragement to engage in countless university activities and organizations, but also the inspiration to make financial contributions to the institution responsible for so much of his personal and professional satisfaction.
"EIU has been able to stay afloat, financially, through giving," White explains. "With the state of Illinois in such a financial mess, giving by alums and people who care about the university becomes more important. The paltry amount I give is only a drop in the ocean, but many drops from many faculty and staff members will make the ocean move."
White also feels his giving — and that of fellow faculty and staff — sends a positive message to the student body: if it can expect greatness from him, he can expect greatness in return.
"Faculty and staff are what make EIU go," said White. "Yes, we have talented students, but they are motivated and 'find' themselves. Talented faculty and dedicated staff are the things that do this motivating. Giving financially is an easy way for us to tell our students 'we believe in you.'"
What's your EIU story?
Eastern has allowed me the freedom to do the research I want to do, and that in turn has allowed me to excel.
Vince Gutowski, Professor