School of Nursing Newsroom

Mary Joe White leaves “a great professional legacy,” says Dean Starck

Characteristically, Mary Joe White could not resist striking a playful pose during a faculty portrait-taking in July 2010. (Photo by Dwight Andrews)

Characteristically, Mary Joe White could not resist striking a playful pose during a faculty portrait-taking in July 2010. (Photo by Dwight Andrews)

(April 10, 2014) – Mary Joe White, Ph.D., R.N., a much-beloved faculty member of the UTHealth School of Nursing for 36 years, lost her battle against glioblastoma on April 8, 2014. She was in hospice care with her family and many friends near her.

A memorial service has been set for 2 p.m., Thursday, April 24, at the South Main Baptist Church, 4100 Main St. in Houston. 

White, 67, started her nursing career at Austin State Hospital in 1969, after earning her B.S.N. at Baylor University. She went on to earn her M.S.N. from Texas Woman’s University in 1976 and first joined the UTHealth School of Nursing as an instructor in 1977. In 1983, she received her doctorate from Texas A&M University.

Starting in 1998, White effectively served in the important role of RN/BSN/MSN track director. When she left the nursing school earlier this year, she was an Associate Professor of Nursing, holding tenure since 1987. A well-attended tribute event in her honor was held at the School on March 7, during which she received many warmly-offered commemorative gifts and testimonials.

Her colleagues in the school’s Department of Nursing Systems agreed that White, as an educator, “had a habit of finding good traits in a student’s capabilities and celebrating them – she empowered students to succeed.”

White was selected by the School’s graduating students for the 2005 McGovern Outstanding Teacher Award. She received the Dean’s Teaching Excellence Award more years than anyone can remember.

White’s major research interest was Rehabilitation Nursing, and she was productive in her scholarly field.

“Mary Joe had a fine record for grants on which she was the principal investigator, and she published more than two dozen articles,” said Dean Patricia L. Starck, Ph.D., R.N. “She was a mentor and role model to nearly four decades of nursing students – a great professional legacy.”

Professor Emerita Marianne T. Marcus, Ed.D., R.N., said: “I think Mary Joe will be remembered as a consummate student advocate. She was very attentive to the competing time demands on our RN to BSN students and tried to accommodate their schedules while still assuring that they had a quality educational experience.”

“Her sense of humor was legendary,” added Starck. “Her influence on this school – its faculty, staff, students, alumni and the patients they care for – is like an everlasting ripple that goes farther and farther.”

White is survived by her husband, Howell, and children Maggie and Mitchell. Condolences can be mailed to the family at: 10833 Willowisp, Houston, TX 77035.

“Thank you again to everyone at the school for all of your support you have given mom,” said Maggie White, currently a UTHealth School of Nursing DNP student. “I have taken so much comfort knowing that she was taken care of and loved even when I couldn't be around.”

The Mary Joe White Scholarship Fund has been established in her name and will assist future students of the School of Nursing. The family is asking for donations to her scholarship fund in lieu of flowers. To make a secure online contribution, go to:

Or, memorial gifts may be mailed to: 

Mary Joe White Scholarship Fund

UTHealth Office of Development

7000 Fannin St., 12th floor

Houston, TX 77030