Richard White ’73 BA in Political ScienceInterview December 1, 2010
How did you select CSULB?
I attended high school in southern California, liked the area and wanted to stay there. After researching CSULB, I saw that it had a solid Political Science Department and a great athletic program, especially in basketball, cross country, track, and volleyball.
At the time I applied to college, my financial resources were limited but at CSULB I could get an affordable education. In fact, when I first arrived on campus, I traveled to Long Beach from Monrovia on a 10-speed bike with 2 suitcases. That was my introduction to CSULB.
What is your most memorable moment on campus?
The first day of classes really had an impact on me intellectually. I was thrilled to be in an environment that challenged me academically. Being a CSULB student exposed me to an entirely different way of behaving and acting. I got really wrapped up in the college atmosphere. The day I graduated was also important to me and my family. Not only did I graduate in 4 years, but I was also the first member of the family to graduate from college. After the ceremony, we went to dinner at the Queen Mary in downtown Long Beach. It was a very memorable day for all of us.
Which professor influenced you the most during your academic career at CSULB?
Professor Jay Stephens was more than a professor to me. He helped me during a very crucial point in my life. He gave me confidence to overcome some personal issues I was having at the time. His help and guidance was both academic and personal. Professor Barry Steiner, from whom I took a class in international relations, also had a huge impact on me. I truly respected and admired him for his intellect.
Were you involved in any extracurricular activities while at CSULB?
Although I certainly wasn’t a spectacular athlete, in high school I enjoyed cross country and track. While at CSULB, my class schedule, studies, and morning job in the dormitory cafeteria didn’t leave much time for other activities but I got to know many of the cross country and track runners.
Do you feel your experience and education at CSULB prepared you for your career?
Without a doubt, yes it did! At CSULB, I learned how to read, write, and become a more articulate person in a new way. I learned how to apply critical thinking skills to any situation and was taught how to process complex academic concepts and clearly articulate them to the professors and classmates.
When I later studied for an MBA in the midst of my professional career, I realized that the academic skills I learned as a student of Political Science gave me the confidence and assuredness to attack rigorous accounting and statistical courses while in the MBA program. Throughout my early academic career, I was intimidated by accounting and statistical analysis; my education at CSULB gave me the confidence to better understand situations and challenges that required analytical thinking and how to react and address them without fear.
What do you believe is the value of a liberal arts education to society?
A Liberal Arts degree compels and encourages students to think about the world in a larger, global perspective. It demands an “opening of the mind” and the adoption of a view of the world, the local community and the environment in larger, more diverse and pluralistic ways. In my view, every college degree should have a humanities component in their curriculum because critical thinking skills taught within Liberal Arts are essential to every profession if one intends to be successful in their personal and professional lives.
Do you recall any notable campus events during your time at CSULB?
I believe the senior class of 1973 was the first to use the Student Union. We had a lot of fun there and even made use of the bowling alley. Occasionally, on Friday nights, concerts were held in the gym. I attended one show with a group of friends that featured an opening comedy act, followed by an up-and-coming female singer, along with her back-up band. I had no idea who these performers were at the time, but the comedian was Steve Martin (who also attended CSULB), the singer was Linda Ronstadt and the band was a new group called the Eagles, who had just completed their first album. I’ve enjoyed their music ever since.
Richard White ’73 is currently Vice President of Distribution for Fulham North America, based in Hawthorne, CA. Fulham manufactures lighting products designed to reduce energy consumption in the commercial/industrial business sectors. Richard resides in Brentwood, Tennessee.