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White brings life experience, lessons learned in public office to College of Leadership & Public Service

Lipscomb University is a leader not only in higher education, but in training leaders who make an impact across the country and around the world.

Kim Chaudoin | 

Rep. Mark White talking to a group of people

Rep. Mark White will share his career experiences as part of the College of Leadership & Public Service team.

When Tennessee legislator Rep. Mark White (R-District 83) was a young man growing up in Memphis, he knew he wanted to pursue a profession through which he could serve others. 

With a degree in education from the University of Memphis in hand, White embarked on his career in 1974 as a middle school science teacher at Harding Academy of Memphis. After being voted teacher of the year in 1976, he was named principal the following year. 

His early roots in education fueled a passion that has had a significant impact on him throughout his professional life as he launched a business, founded an educational organization in Panama and ran for and was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2010. 

It was the start of a journey that has come full circle as White finds himself once again shaping the lives of young people through the transformative impact of education as well as his work on the Hill. Today, White serves as the chair of the Tennessee House Education committee and this fall has been appointed director of leadership and public service in Lipscomb University’s College of Leadership & Public Service. 

“I started my early career as a school teacher and principal and fell in love with the simple innocence of children. During the developing years of a child, adults should do everything possible to nurture and protect that innocence,” says White. “Today, too many children are suffering the consequences of the bad decisions by adults. My passion to serve in government is to help find solutions to the issues that confront our state, families and our children. My current role as chair of the House Education Committee gives me the opportunity to strengthen  laws that support and protect the future of education in Tennessee.”

Lipscomb University’s College of Leadership & Public Service is where Tennessee turns for leadership. Over the past decade, Lipscomb University has built a group of institutes that serve the common good and support innovative solutions. These institutes are housed in this college and include the Institute for Conflict Management, the Institute for Law, Justice & Society, the Institute for Sustainable Practice and the Nelson & Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership. Each offers graduate degree programming in addition to other initiatives including certificate programs, Rule 31 training and more. The college is also home to signature program Leadership Tennessee. This unique initiative provides collaborative learning and dialogue spanning the state’s three grand divisions, issue-specific education for demonstrated leaders, diverse representation of participants and opportunities to affect change. It offers programs of study in pre-law, public service, nonprofit management, corporate social justice, government, sustainability and leadership and public service among others.

In his role with Lipscomb’s College of Leadership & Public Service, White will develop leadership development programs for those in public service across the state and around the country with a particular emphasis on rural communities. 

“As an elected official and public servant for nearly a decade, Mark White brings an expertise to Lipscomb’s College of Leadership & Public Service that will give our students insight into the inner workings of governments and public policy that will prepare them to be leaders in their communities and to have greater impact,” says Steve Joiner, dean, College of Leadership & Public Service at Lipscomb. “Mark’s experience also gives him a unique perspective to develop leadership programs that will have the greatest impact on Tennessee and other communities across the country because he knows first-hand the challenges and opportunities facing government and community leaders. We are thrilled that he is investing his time in our students and helping build Lipscomb’s program into a place that Tennessee turns for leadership solutions.” 

White has eagerly rolled up his sleeves and gotten to in his new role at Lipscomb.  
“As director of leadership and public service I look forward to continuing the historic legacy of leadership of a 128 year old institution,” says White, who graduated from Lipscomb in 2018 with a Master of Arts degree in conflict management. “Lipscomb University has been a leader in Tennessee and our nation in training young men and women for a lifetime of service to others. What a fantastic opportunity to build upon that legacy.”

White first became interested in politics when he was a small business owner in Memphis. He quickly realized that his future success was dependent on the laws and regulations that were passed in the halls of government often by individuals who did not understand the unique challenges of running a business. 

“I ran for office to put my life experience in place and build legislation that protected the business owner,” he recalls. 

Elected to the 83rd Tennessee House District in 2010, White has served on many committees, including Consumer and Human Resources, Fiscal Review, Education Administration and Planning, and Children & Family Affairs. He served as a chair for the Collierville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and has also served as a chair of the Tennessee Leadership Council of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. In 2008, White was recognized by the National Federation of Independent Business as the “Small Business Person of the Year.” In 2007, White was named the “Statesman of the Year” by the Tennessee GOP party. 

As an elected official, White has an approach to public service that focuses on the individual. 

“As a person of faith, I have grown in my commitment to serving the needs of the individual and not allow partisan politics to influence my decisions,” he says. “I believe if we make our decisions based on taking care of each other then we all win.”

White, a native of Memphis, will draw upon his experience in Tennessee state legislature in his new role. 

“As someone who has served in state government for the past 10 years I see a need to support and create new leaders that will serve our state in the coming years,” he says. “Developing leaders especially in our rural communities is vital. I believe the strength of our state as well as our nation depends on the survival of our small towns and rural areas. My vision for Lipscomb is to provide that Leadership Training. ‘Lipscomb, Where Tennessee Turns for Leadership’ will not only be the tagline for our college and our work in it but a firm commitment to Tennessee.” 

White says plans for new leadership programs will be announced in the near future. 

“Tennessee has been fortunate to have visionary leadership in state government for many years and as a result, Tennessee is growing. Industry, jobs and population are moving into our state every day,” White says. “We are known as the Volunteer State because we are unique in that we care for others. We have produced three presidents and many world leaders in our 224 years as a state. Lipscomb University understands this history and is creating a legacy by developing state and national leaders for the next century.”  

In addition to his Lipscomb graduate degree, White also has a Bachelor of Science degree in education from the University of Memphis. He and his wife, Kathy, have one child, Bonny, and two grandchildren. 

Learn more about Lipscomb University’s College of Leadership & Public Service at