A year and a half has passed since APSU inducted Alisa White as it’s 10th president. As she celebrates her second winter semester at APSU, White says it is being together with her family that makes the season so special.
“My favorite part about the holiday is getting together with my family to celebrate the birth of Christ and reflect on what’s most important to us as a family,” White said. “My family members live in several cities in several states, and we don’t have a lot of occasions that we’re all together.”
White previously served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Texas at Tyler, as well as holding other administrative jobs at several other universities in Alaska, Louisiana and Georgia.
Now that she has moved to Clarksville and her family is scattered in various states, she said she has one wish for Christmas.
“Even if I risk sounding redundant, it’s having my family together,” White said. “We’re planning on it, but we’re not sure yet it’s going to be possible.”
Like many other families around the holidays, White’s family celebrates not only Christmas.
They celebrate the Jewish holiday Hanukkah as well to commemorate the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees victory over the Syrians.
Even with the hustle and bustle of the holidays and preparing for both Christmas and Hanukkah, White’s family’s holiday spirit is never dampened.
White says traditions have been the center of her family holiday celebrations for years.
“My family has had three special traditions, two of which we continue to observe,” she said. “One is playing games. From the time our extended family gets together to the time we depart, someone’s got a game going. For years it was Yahtzee, Dominoes or a card game with Rook cards called Phooey. Now it’s usually Phooey, Greed or Farkle, and we’re all very competitive so the games are really fun.
“Second is watching football. We’re big college football fans, so we always have a bowl game on,” she said.
“The third tradition was with my mother. She was a great candy maker and cookie baker, and I would help her put together big trays of a variety of each. The only thing she couldn’t make was divinity, so my dad and I would make it together,” White said. “Sadly, we don’t make candy now, but we probably should revive that tradition in honor of mama.”
Another big part of the holiday season for White is spending time with her husband, Elliot Herzlich.
Herzlich is a jewelry retailer, appraiser, custom engraver and a seasoned chef.
Although presents are a big part of the Christmas holiday, White said her favorite present is a special memory.
“My best Christmas present was my then-boyfriend, [Herzlich], traveling with me to Georgia to meet my parents for the first time,” White said. “My parents didn’t have enough bedrooms and offered to put Elliott up in a nearby hotel.
“[Herzlich] wanted to get to know the family, so he elected to stay at my parents’ home where he slept on an air mattress in a storage room,” she said. “The air mattress lost all of its air through the night, and he always woke up flat on the floor. It was a wonderful gift to realize that he thought I was worth all of that.”
President White, also wishes that all of APSU’s students, “Have a wonderful holiday and spend it with people you care about. Take some time to rest and to have some fun. Be safe and know that I’m looking forward to your return.; it’s not the same when you’re not here.”