|Date: June 9, 2023
Start Time: 12 p.m. EST
End Time: 1 p.m. EST
In Why It Matters, John A. White draws on a wealth of expertise acquired across his six-decade career as a corporate leader, chancellor, dean, educator, engineer, and consultant to create a thorough and thought-provoking treatise on leadership philosophy. Based in part on Leadership Practices and Principles, the award-winning course he designed and taught at the University of Arkansas, Why It Matters brilliantly weaves Dr. White’s inspiring personal story and observations on leadership with a treasure trove of leadership philosophy from some of the nation’s most respected corporate, military, and political leaders.
After stepping down as chancellor of the University of Arkansas, Dr. White was encouraged by faculty colleagues to offer a course on leadership. Though he’d been an engineering educator for forty-five years by then and had never taught a course that wasn’t based on equations, he was intrigued by the idea of sharing his leadership journey with students. For the following nine years, Dr. White taught Leadership Practices and Principles to seniors and graduate students from every discipline, introducing them to fifteen guest leaders over the course of each semester and holding in-depth, frank, and often emotional conversations about the challenges, joys, heartbreaks, and diversity of approaches to successful leadership.
Dr. White recounts dozens of these conversations in Why It Matters while reflecting on his own leadership journey in business, government, nonprofit organizations, and universities. Drawing on numerous challenging leadership experiences while serving on six boards of directors for publicly traded companies and leading the University of Arkansas, Georgia Tech’s engineering college, National Science Foundation’s engineering directorate, and numerous professional associations, he provides practical guidance on navigating your leadership journey. Why It Matters is required reading for current and aspiring leaders alike, as well as anyone with an interest in a plainspoken and truly comprehensive compendium of leadership thought and philosophy.
The North Central Association of Colleges and Universities called the decade of the author’s leadership of the University of Arkansas transformational, noting significant improvements occurred in all dimensions of the university. During his 6-year service as Georgia Tech’s engineering dean, the college advanced from being ranked 11th to being ranked 3rd by U.S. News & World Report. SysteCon, an engineering consulting firm he co-founded, changed the way material handling systems were designed for manufacturing and distribution from experience-based to requirements-driven by employing computer-based design and analysis algorithms. White’s leadership of NSF’s Engineering Directorate resulted in his receipt of its Distinguished Service Award.
His leadership experience includes membership on boards of directors for Eastman Chemical Company, J. B. Hunt Transport Services, Logility, Motorola, Motorola Solutions, and Russell Corporation, as well as leading the American Association of Engineering Societies, Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, National GEM Consortium, Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Foundation, Council of Presidents of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, and Southeastern Conference, among others. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, the author’s bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees are from the University of Arkansas, Virginia Tech, and The Ohio State University, respectively. He holds honorary doctorates from George Washington University and Katholieke Universitiet of Leuven in Belgium.