Dr. Jeanna White grew up in what she calls "an idyllic suburban community" in Arlington, TX with a brother, a sister, and a dog named Buffy.  She spent her childhood running, skating, and bicycling up and down the streets of her neighborhood.  She describes it as a “Leave It to Beaver” childhood.  White's parents had two goals for their children.  First, to help them become responsible and up-standing Christians and second, to make them Baylor Bears. They were successful. Dr. White quips, "when I chose history as my major but refused to get an education degree, they thought perhaps they should have added “able to support herself” to their goals for me." 

In what Dr. White refers to as "few forks in the road later," she left studenthood with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in History and a PhD in English.  A year as an English professor in West Palm Beach, FL showed White that she preferred to live far away from hurricane country.  "The beach was amazing, but inland Texas is home, " says White.

Her first introduction to Marshall was on camping trips to Caddo Lake; Marshall had the closest Walmart.  She recalls her initial reactions, "I was a little hesitant to move here, having seen so many people in overalls and camouflage on those camping supply runs, but when I visited ETBU, I fell in love with the campus and the people." 

After nine years, she still love Marshall and ETBU, and she has "gotten used to the camouflage (but not the overalls)."  About her journey, Dr. White reflects, "As a college student, I mapped out my future and I often say that almost nothing worked out according to my plan, but it has worked out beautifully."

What brought you to ETBU?  

I came to ETBU in 2005 after a year at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL.  I wanted to return to Texas, closer to family and farther  away from snow birds and hurricanes.  That year at PBA solidified my commitment to Christian higher education but it also helped me focus my desire for an institution that fosters academic freedom and the free expression of ideas.  ETBU fit the bill and I have never regretted my choice to come here. 

What is the most valuable lesson your have learned from your ETBU colleagues?  

I work in one of the best departments on campus and that experience has taught me the value of comradely and teamwork.  We are all part of one body doing common work and we are more effective when all the parts work in harmony.  Together I think we have learned the importance of love and compassion in accomplishing God’s work for us. 

What makes a student successful in your class?  

Self-discipline and a good attitude.  I believe strongly in self-discipline, though it wasn’t necessarily one of my own strengths in college.  But I’ve learned that discipline and persistence are the keys to reaching any goal.  A good attitude makes self-discipline a blessing rather than a burden.  

What is the most important thing you have learned from your ETBU students?  

I learn more  from students than I could ever synthesize into one or two lessons.  They’ve taught me how to use my ipad and the nuances of Facebook, but they have also taught me the importance of compassion as a key to effective leadership.


Jeanna White, Ph.D

Professor of English, ‘05

Bachelor of Arts in History, Baylor University, 1991
Master of Arts in History, Baylor University, 1993
PhD in English, University of Texas at Arlington, 2002


Areas of Expertise:
Twentieth Century American literature

African American literature, Composition Studies

Professional Affiliations:

National Council of Teachers of English

Southern Conference on African American Studies

Modern Language Association


“Two Vashtis: Toni Morrison’s Beloved and the Book of Esther.”  The Explicator.  Fall 2013.

“The One Eyed, Preacher, His Crooked Daughter, and Villagers Waving Their Stumps: Barbara Kingsolver’s Use of Disability in The Poisonwood Bible.” South Central Review. Fall 2009.

 “The Creek.”  The Recorder. Fall 2008.

 “Ocean Passage and the Presence of Absence: The Problem of Place in Four Contemporary Slave Narratives.”  The Griot. Fall 2007.

 “’From the Seen to the Told’: The Construction of Subjectivity in Toni Morrison’s Beloved.” African American Review Fall 2002.