Barbara W. White

February 26, 1943July 19, 2019

A Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi (1181/2-1226 A.D.)

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen." -Anonymous

BARBARA WILLIAMS WHITE, loving mother, grandmother and sister passed away peacefully on July 19, 2019, at her home surrounded by her family. She was the eldest of three girls born to Ernestine Cliett Austin and her husband Willie Austin on February 26, 1943, in Macon, Georgia. She enjoyed spending time with her family, and was a fashionista, who also loved to shop!

She was raised in Jacksonville, Florida, and was educated in the Duval County public school system. She was a proud graduate of the 1960 class of New Stanton Senior High School, where she was crowned Miss 11th Grade in 1959. Upon graduation from New Stanton Senior High, she continued her education at Florida A&M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, Florida, where she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated; Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Fraternity; White and Gold Honor Society; and elected Miss Florida A&M University 1963-64. She was awarded the Bachelor of Science degree with honors in Music Education. Early in her professional career she had the distinct of working at her alma mater for two years as an assistant professor.

Additionally, she received a Bachelor of Science in Social Work (summa cum laude); a Master of Social Work; and a Doctor of Philosophy from Florida State University (FSU). Later she served as associate dean at the FSU College of Social Work, where she also directed the master's degree program and received a University Teaching Excellence Award.

She raised her family in Tallahassee, Florida, where she was a member of St Michael's and All Angele Episcopal Church and an active member of Links, Incorporated, before she re-located to Austin, Texas. She was appointed the first African American dean in the University of Texas at Austin in its history. She led the School of Social Work's successful efforts to meet new accreditation standards; to achieving a national ranking among the top ten schools of Social Work in the country; and participated in visionary efforts to enhance research and evidence-based practice. For her hard work and tireless effort, she was awarded the University's Presidential Citation in 2012-the highest University Award). Her work catapulted the school into a nationally recognized position of leadership. During his presentation of the Citation, former University President William Powers stated that, "Dr. White is among those leaders at the University who have consistently lived up to the University's Slogan: ' What starts Here Changes the World'. . .Barbara has nurtured a culture of believing in humanity's ability to make this world a better place. . .Her greatest legacy is the many graduates from the School of Social Work who have gone out into the world to make a difference.' "

Upon her retirement in 2011, Barbara was named dean emeritus in honor of her outstanding 18 years of leadership and a distinguished career, where she oversaw the education and training of thousands of social workers, contributed to the knowledge of many more through scholarship; she led with compassion and integrity. According to President Gregory L. Fenves, President, University of Texas at Austin, "Dean White was a trailblazer as one of the most significant academic leaders in our University's history. . .As the first African American dean at University of Texas, she rose to the top of her field and was a national leader in social work education and research. Her legacy and accomplishments will inspire generations of future social workers at UT and throughout the nation."

Barbara was an accomplished scholar in the areas of cultural diversity, women studies and domestic violence. She was actively involved in social work education, and was the only person in her profession to hold the presidencies of both the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). She was also very active in community service, serving on boards of many organizations.

Among her numerous awards and recognitions are NASW Pioneer; Presidential Award for Leadership in Social Work Education; the Rhoda G. Sarnet for Contributions to the Public Image of Professional Social Work, NASW' Lifetime Achievement Award, NASW-Texas; Inaugural Fellow and Board Member, American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare; Presidential Medal of Honor, Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors; Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award, CSWE; Member, African American Women's Hall of Fame; Community Service Achievement Award, Links, Incorporated, Austin Chapter.

Barbara Williams White was preceded in death by her mother, Ernestine Cliett Austin and her husband Willie Austin; her sister, Cassandra Lynette Austin. Survivors include her devoted daughters, Tonja White Mathews (Raymond, Jr.) and Phaedra White Abbott (Patrick), and their father, Dr. Julian E. White; sister, Claudette Austin Gibbs (Leroy); grandchildren, John Julian Burt and Mallory Michelle Mathews; a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, colleagues, and special friends-of-the-heart.

There will be a memorial service 2:00 pm on Friday, August 30, 2019 in the McCullough Theater located at 2375 Robert Dedman Drive, Austin, Texas 78712.

Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation. -Rumi


  • Memorial Service

    Friday, August 30, 2019


Barbara W. White

have a memory or condolence to add?

Judy Saucerman

August 7, 2020

Barbara was a professor in. Social Work at FSU when I studied for my MSW. She was so highly skilled at giving negative feedback that her comments didn’t make you feel bad. She was gracious, charming and delightful. After graduating, we joined in a breakfast group we called, “The Brass Tubes.” I am so deeply saddened to learn of her passing and extend my heartfelt condolences to her family.

Ruth Fagan-Wilen

July 20, 2020

I miss seeing and talking to Barbara so much. She was a sounding board for any concerns or thoughts I had....and I hope I offered her the same. We laughed, cried, and generally shared our lives -- a wonderful friend! Oh, and she LOVED whitefish salad!

Mary Frazier

July 19, 2020

In loving memory of Dr. White on this one year anniversary.
My prayers go out to her family and loved ones still.

Lettie L. Lockhart

July 19, 2020

I miss her support everyday! May all our hearts be eased from pain as we hold firm to all her earthly footprints

Saundra Inge

September 2, 2019

Leonard and I were very sad when we received the news of your lost. Leonard always talked about how beautiful your mom was. I always remembered how loving and happy she was shopping with and for you girls. Fondness memories will always exist just knowing your family. Our love always, the Inge clan, Leonard, Saundra, Leoneda, Cassaundra, and BAby Inge (all grown up, Jr.)

Mary Frazier

July 31, 2019

I was a Secretary in the College of Social Work at FSU when Dr. White was Associate Dean. Dr. White was truly a caring professional to students, instructors and support staff in the School. She was the best boss ever and I truly enjoyed working for her. I was saddened to read of her recent passing. My prayers go out to her family. I loved her and know that she will be truly missed.

Joe Papick

July 30, 2019

I worked with Dr.White for many years and I always found her to be so accommodating and willing to help to improve the training of social workers and services to children and families who received services in child welfare. I am very glad that I knew her and she will be missed. My prayers and thoughts are with her family and they should be proud of the good person that she was.

Ben Streetman

July 28, 2019

Barbara and I were deans together for a dozen years, she at Social Work and I at Engineering. We became good friends and endured long Deans meetings together. Her cheery disposition was contagious. It’s clear why she was such a success in social work - she was caring toward everyone. Barbara was bright, elegant, beautiful and witty. All of us who served as deans with her will miss her bright smile and amazing insight.

We were fortunate to know her.

John and Cynthia Adkins

July 28, 2019

We first met Barbara through the Texas Exes, and our friendship grew through the years as we became involved as volunteers at her beloved School of Social Work. Our family appreciates Barbara’s wonderful leadership on behalf of the students, faculty, and alumni of the School of Social Work. We marvel at the impact she has had, and will continue to have, on the many thousands of people whose lives are improved by UT Social
Workers. We will miss our friend Barbara.

Juanita Hart-Tolbert

July 27, 2019

Barbara was my high school classmate, friend, fellow band member and role model.She was beautiful inside and out and leaves a legacy that is regal in all aspects. I will miss her and cherish her fun loving and caring spirit.
Rest In Peace my friend ,
Blessings to the family ,

Juanita Hart Tolbert
New Stanton Class of “60”