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New Lecture Honors Life, Legacy of SLU Criminologist

Saint Louis University will honor the life and legacy of pioneering criminologist Norman A. White, Ph.D., with a new lecture and awards ceremony on Monday, March 26. The Dr. Norman A. White Lecture will present speakers who embody the spirit of and commitment to social justice possessed by the late SLU faculty member.

Norm White, Ph.D.

Norman "Norm" White, Ph.D.

White, known as “Norm,” was well known in the community for using his academic and research expertise to bring about meaningful change in the lives of people, communities and the world-at-large. White was an activist and scholar, leading SLU’s Overground Railroad to Literacy Project and Shut It Down: Closing the School to Prison Pipeline. He died suddenly on Dec. 6, 2017.

The School of Social Work in the College for Public Health and Social Justice will host the lecture at 6 p.m. in the St. Louis Room, Busch Student Center on SLU’s campus, 20 North Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63103.

The lecture is open to the public.

Judge Jimmie Edwards, a SLU alumnus and director of public safety for the City of St. Louis, will be the inaugural speaker. Edwards served as administrative judge of the Family Court and Chief Juvenile Court Judge from 2007 to 2012. He was named to his current role with the City of St. Louis by Mayor Lyda Krewson in 2017. Edwards has won national honors and has been profiled in People magazine for his ground-breaking work with juvenile offenders, including starting a high school to educate students who had been expelled from other schools.

The School of Social Work planned the lecture series as tribute to White's legacy as a teacher, mentor, researcher and scholar. 

"He embodied what the School of Social Work aspires to be," Donald Linhorst, Ph.D., director of the School of Social Work, said. "Norm really integrated his teaching, research and service and was deeply committed to students. Norm White really touched lives across the University."

The goal of the lecture, and other planned tributes, is to carry forward White's legacy and impact on not only the SLU community but the St. Louis region at large.

"For a Jesuit University, Norm's way of conducting research is a very good model for reaching out to the community, and learning from the community," Linhorst said.

The lecture is being delivered as part of Social Work Month and Criminal Justice Month, both of which fall in March. The lecture's organizers hope that the talks given annually will also embody White's philosophy of social justice, rehabilitation and treatment and prevention as related to juvenile behavior in the criminal justice setting.

Edwards was approached to give the inaugural lecture due to his close work with White over the years, Linhorst said. The judge, he continued, "really captures Norm's commitment to the community."

Edwards expressed his admiration for White.

"Norm was a good friend and colleague," Edwards said. "We shared passions for children and social justice and worked toward common ends for many years."

In addition to the judge’s address, the evening will include awards for outstanding adjunct faculty in social work, criminology and criminal justice and applied behavior analysis. The night’s awards will also recognize a Young Alumni Award, for those alumni who graduated from a program in the past 10 years, and a Distinguished Alumni Award, for those who graduated more than 10 years ago.

The lecture will be followed by a reception with Judge Edwards. Parking will be available in the University’s Laclede Garage.

White joined the SLU faculty in 2004 as an assistant professor and director of criminal justice programs. He was an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice and an affiliated faculty member in SLU’s African American Studies Program. 

After his sudden death in December 2017, colleagues and University leaders reflected on White's life and legacy. He was known for his belief that, “Social justice is not a concept to be defined; it is an action to be taken.”

“It was his mantra and will probably be his legacy," Noelle Fearn, Ph.D., director of SLU’s criminology and criminal justice program, said. “Clearly, Norm lived his personal and professional lives according to this practical belief. He generously gave of himself, his time, his energy and his dedication to students, colleagues and, very importantly, to Saint Louis University and local surrounding communities.”

University President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., noted that White was “truly a gift to St. Louis and SLU.”

“To many, he embodied SLU at its best,” Pestello said in the University’s obituary for White. “He cared deeply about and did immeasurable work to address disparities for marginalized people. He was a great man — a loyal and compassionate friend, a loving son and husband, and an engaged teacher and scholar. SLU is firmly committed to continuing his work. There is no better way to honor his legacy and life.”

For more information or media inquiries, contact Jeanette Grider at or 314-977-2538.