Bob White, Professor of Communications in the Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities, is the 2022 recipient of the Alden Poole Faculty Mentor Award. This award recognizes a faculty member in the Ifill College who has had a profound impact on the life and careers of students at Simmons University.
The award is named in honor of Professor Alden Poole for his work in the Department of Communications (1955-1986) helping students achieve their potential. Among these notable students was the late Gwen Ifill '77, '93HD.
"[Professor White's] nomination was a moving testament to how he pushes students to aim high and believe in themselves," said Interim Dean Diane Grossman. "The faculty selection panel had a wonderful conversation about the expansiveness of [his] approach to mentoring both students and faculty. [Professor White] exemplifies our commitment in Ifill College and beyond to preparing students to become lifelong leaders in their professions and in their communities."
White, who teaches Communications Media, Video Production, and Animation, began his love of film at about eight years old, when he first saw movies on the big screen. He started making films with his family's home movie camera, and in college discovered independent films more akin to art and literature than anything Hollywood would create.
"When I came to Simmons I produced each class as I would a film," says White. "My classroom is a theater and the lecture is like [Neil Diamond's "Brother Love's] Traveling Salvation Show."
When asked for his thoughts on being recognized as a mentor, White says: "I have stood quietly. I have stood to one side. I have stood among my students. Gifted, brilliant, amazing artists, and scholars. I have stood quietly. Now that I am old, I sit quietly holding my cane. During my fifty years here with Mother Simmons, I never actively did anything on behalf of my students. I love to teach. I love to write. And I love to make still and moving pictures. Someone once told me that when you are afraid, like speaking in public, you should do something you are even more afraid of than speaking in public. So, occasionally, as people may remember, I sing in class."
White received nominations from four alumnae/i for the award. Evelyn Kofler '03 wrote, "Bob White let my creativity soar... He also taught me that life and work is better when you don't take it too seriously. A message we all need to hear again and again. Long live Dumbledore!" Lisamaria Lanzillo Shaler '80 wrote, "Bob gave me a teaching assistant position which led to my becoming an educator." Natascha Pearl-Mansman '09 wrote, "I worked as a Teaching Assistant in the Communications department for 7 out of the 8 semesters I was at Simmons, and I can say without a doubt that the guidance and assistance Bob White provided was just as enriching as all of the classes I took combined."
Karen Thomas '77 cited his "solution-oriented thinking and action planning" and its impact on her career. When she needed to move to California the summer before her senior year, White helped her devise a way to meet her requirements long-distance, without the benefit of internet access. "Bob encouraged and helped me design a long-distance learning program. It included an internship with a chain of syndicated newspapers and an 8 mm film documenting Simmons Alums living and working in the Bay Area," said Thomas, noting that her internships, and the portfolio of by-lines she had compiled, lead to her career at ESSENCE Magazine.
"Bob White has for over 40 years continued to be a part of my personal and professional life, as with so many others," says Thomas. "His passion and commitment to Simmons and her students has never waned or waivered. I am personally and deeply appreciative of his influence, support and friendship."
Alumnae/i may nominate any current Ifill College faculty member for the Alden Poole Faculty Mentor Award, which includes a $500 honorarium.