Spring 2020 at Austin Peay was the final semester for former university president Alisa White. She and her husband packed up over summer break to head back to her native Texas to take her role as the President of Sam Houston State University.
“Austin Peay is a special institution and it took a special institution and place to lure my husband, Elliott, and me away. Austin Peay set the bar high. A bonus is that we’re now living within an afternoon’s driving distance of all of our children and grandchildren,” she said in an email interview.
White has had a very interesting start to her year. She has had to pack up her life, along with her husband, move thousands of miles away, all during a global pandemic.
“Moving during a pandemic has been challenging. Elliott and I want to get involved in the community as soon as possible, but the pandemic has us all very careful about interactions. I’m meeting people on campus, but mostly by Zoom. I look forward to having an opportunity to connect with people more naturally and to start building relationships,” she said. She has also had an interesting start to her new job.
“It’s been a whirlwind, because the first week was busy with the Texas State University System Board of Regents meeting and the grand opening of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, the second week was the start of classes, and we spent the third week preparing for a hurricane. While the hurricane didn’t damage our Huntsville campus, we operated two shelters for evacuees and experienced power outages on our Woodlands campus,” she said.
While White is no longer in Tennessee, she can not help but reflect on her time in the state and at APSU.
“I already miss seeing the people of Austin Peay who made Austin Peay and Clarksville home. I miss students. It was tough to leave late summer when many of the campus community members were gone, and Elliott and I didn’t really get a chance to say goodbye,” she said.
She continued, “I take comfort in knowing that although separated geographically, the relationships will endure. My favorite thing about Austin Peay is the makeup of the student body. I enjoyed working with so many traditional, non-traditional, and military-connected students, and enjoyed the wonderful support of and relationship with the external community. I will miss Tennessee but will make sure to stay in touch with and visit people and places that are so important to us.”
Don’t get too discouraged, however. SHSU has treated her well so far.
“People have been very friendly. Many have reached out with warm welcomes, and I’m looking forward to getting to know more of them,” she said.