George White with President Paul Hennigan in the restored board room of Point Park's University Center in 2011.
The late George and Kathleen White’s long-time commitment to the growth of Point Park University has been a source of academic and physical campus improvement for more than 20 years.
Today, that commitment to ensuring Point Park’s growth and prosperity in the future is manifested in the couple’s $15 million bequest, the single largest gift in the University’s 54-year history. The White bequest will be dispersed among several initiatives at the University including the Pittsburgh Playhouse construction fund and enhancements to the University’s School of Business, including continued funding of the George Rowland White Endowed Professor of Accounting and Finance.
Legacy of Generosity and Support
“The White bequest is a transformational gift for our University and we are humbled by their legacy of generosity and support,” said President Paul Hennigan. “Their passion for the arts, and their understanding of the importance of a well-rounded liberal arts education set in a vibrant Downtown, are embodied in this generous gift.”
According to Hennigan, the Whites’ bequest will allow the University to expand programs and campus enhancements that are significant and meaningful, “not just to our students and academic community, but to the Pittsburgh region as well.”
For example, he pointed to the Urban Accounting Initiative, established in 2011 by the Whites to encourage minority youth to pursue studies and careers in accounting and financing.
“The Whites had the vision to match the growing need for accountants and financial professionals with the importance of finding stable careers for a demographic that is historically challenged to do so,” he said. Now in its third year, the Urban Accounting Initiative, directed by Edward Scott, M.B.A., C.P.A., the George Rowland White Endowed Professor of Accounting and Finance, hosts an Accounting Careers Awareness Program each summer, in conjunction with the National Association of Black Accountants, where minority high school students attend classes on careers in accounting and business, personal development and college preparation as well as meet and learn from mentors in the fields.
Pivotal and Meaningful
“George always emphasized that he saw the School of Business as an opportunity for Point Park to make an impact on the community,” says Karen McIntyre, Ph.D, senior vice president of academic and student affairs, “to provide to the community as well as benefit from opportunities in the community. He had that vision for Point Park a very long time ago.” Moreover, “they wanted it to be applied, practical and meaningful,” according to McIntyre. “From their own experience, business should help to change your life and the lives of others.”
In an economic climate where many schools of Point Park’s size and endowment are often challenged to fund the expansion of academic programs, enhancements to the physical campus, and attract and retain a vibrant study body, the bequest comes at a pivotal moment for the University.
“The transformation our campus has experienced through the Academic Village Initiative has been significant and the Whites’ generous gift allows us to further that process and plant the seeds for future efforts,” said Hennigan.
Before his death in 2012, George White served on Point Park University’s Board of Trustees since 1995 and was also, for a time, an adjunct professor. George and his wife Kathleen, who passed away in 2013, became Downtown residents when George was recruited to lead what is now the University of Pittsburgh Applied Research Facility in Harmar Township, Pa. According to Hennigan, the White’s support of a healthy Downtown, its rich cultural offerings, business and corporate interests as well as opportunities for exploring and learning, were a perfect complement to the community of Point Park.
In a 2011 interview with The Point, George White discussed the $1 million bequest he and Kathleen made to the university to establish the George Rowland White Endowed Professor of Accounting and Finance. “My hope is that others will be inspired to make bequests and similar types of planned gifts. We would like to set a precedent.”
Photo of George White and Paul Hennigan by Richard Kelly
Photo of George and Kathleen White by Tom Bell
The Point is a magazine for alumni and friends of Point Park University