HONORING THE LIFE OF DEBRA SAUNDERS-WHITE

December 1, 2016
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mourn the loss of one of our nation's finest public servants, Dr. Debra Saunders-White. She was a good friend and a tireless advocate for increasing access to higher education for all students. This past Saturday, Debra Saunders-White passed away, and I would like to take a brief moment to celebrate her life and legacy.

For many years, Debra Saunders-White was a leading voice in education as she fought to strengthen historical black colleges and universities and other minority serving institutions. As a first generation college graduate, Debra understood both the opportunities afforded by higher education and the many challenges that accompany students as they attempt to access and afford a higher education.

A native of Hampton, Virginia, she attended the University of Virginia before receiving her Masters of Business Administration from the College of William and Mary and her Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from George Washington University. After completing her education, Mrs. Saunders-White spent 15 years in the private sector, working for IBM as a systems engineer before transitioning to marketing.

From 1999 until 2006, Dr. Saunders-White served as the Assistant Provost of Technology at Hampton University. While at Hampton, she designed and implemented the university's first information technology organization. Her efforts made Hampton University the first HBCU in the nation to join the Internet2 community, where they earned the ``most wired university'' title by Forbes Magazine and the Princeton Review.

Ultimately, Dr. Saunders-White left Hampton University and spent some time at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) as the Vice Chancellor and later served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Education in President Obama's administration. In 2011, Mrs. Saunders-White became the 11th chancellor of North Carolina Central University. During her tenure, Dr. Saunders-White was held in high regard by all of her colleagues and students. Known for her strong vision and leadership, Debra was extremely dedicated to ensuring the success of the students at NCCU while she carried out her vision for growth at the university.

Mr. Speaker, the education and NCCU communities have lost a tremendous advocate for our nation's students. I want to extend my deepest sympathies to her two children, Elizabeth Paige and Cecil III; her mother, Irene Saunders; her brothers, Roger, Ralph and Kyle Saunders, and the rest of her family, friends, and countless students she positively impacted during her life.