Dr. Debra Saunders-White was one of two selected as the Spectacular Magazine 2017 Woman of the Year in the Education category. She was the 11th chancellor of North Carolina Central University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Virginia in 1979 and a master of business administration from the College of William and Mary in 1993. Saunders-White received her doctorate in higher education administration from George Washington University in 2004.
The criteria for the Education category are a woman who is driven by the need to help students succeed and has made significant gains toward eliminating the significant gap between the achievement levels of blacks and non-black students; woman of any race, color or creed who serves the African-American community is eligible.
Due to the large number of nominations in the Education category two awards were presented.
Recipients of the Spectacular Magazine 2017 Women of the Year were nominated by members of the community. The nominees are narrowed down to three semi-finalists in each category (six in the Community Service category). An on-line voting process affords the public to select the recipient. They are named at a Sunday’s Best Spectacular Magazine Women of the Year Awards Gala.
Saunders-White died from complications of kidney cancer at the age of 59, almost a month after the Spectacular Magazine Women of the Year Awards Gala. She was unable to attend. Cecil White III, Dr. Saunders-White’s son, accepted the award on her behalf.
Debra Saunders-White (January 8, 1957 – November 26, 2016) assumed office on June 1, 2013, and was the first woman to hold the permanent position of chancellor at NCCU. She was previously Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education.
Saunders-White was born in Hampton, Virginia. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Virginia in 1979 and a master of business administration from the College of William and Mary in 1993. Saunders-White received her doctorate in higher education administration from George Washington University in 2004.
Saunders-White worked at IBM from 1979-1994, first as a systems engineer and then in marketing. She taught college preparatory mathematics at St. George’s School in Newport, RI from 1994-1998 and joined Hampton University in Hampton, VA as the assistant provost of technology in 1999. She built the University’s first information technology organization, and in turn Hampton University was named one of the “most wired universities” by Forbes Magazine and the Princeton Review. In 2005, she was promoted as vice president for technology and chief information officer.
In 2006, Saunders-White left Hampton University to become the vice chancellor of Information Technology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. During her time at UNCW, she also served in the Office of Institutional Diversity as the interim associate provost and the chief diversity officer.
In May 2011, Saunders-White began serving as deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs in the Department of Education and left in 2013 after being appointed as the 11th chancellor of North Carolina Central University. NCCU is a public historically black university located in Durham, NC. Chancellor Saunders-White began at NCCU on June 1, 2013 and was formally installed on Friday April 4, 2014.
Saunders-White died on November 26, 2016 from complications of kidney cancer at the age of 59. Her strong and rich legacy will be enhanced through the lives of her two children, of whom she was very proud. Elizabeth Paige, a graduate of Temple University and the Levine College of Law at the University of Florida, is a practicing defense attorney. Cecil, a graduate of University of Virginia, is an investment banking analyst. Deb was known as a loving daughter, mother, sister and friend. She was a child of God who understood the power of God’s grace and mercy. She believed in family, the power of love and the importance of compassion and forgiveness.
To read more about Dr. Debra Saunders-White, click here.
Spectacular Magazine 2017 Women of the Year Awards Gala was sponsored by PNC, Coalesce Beauty, Orange Co/Chapel Hill Visitors Bureau & Carol Woods Retirement Village.
Nominations for the Spectacular Magazine 2017 Man of the Year will open February 5, 2017.
Highlights of Spectacular Magazine 2017 Women of the Year Awards Gala (Photos: Mel Brown):