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Dr. Mark White Becomes Professor Emeritus at Retirement Party
Dr. Mark White – Professor Emeritus: At Mark’s retirement reception, his promotion to Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech was announced. Several observations about the pallet program at the Center for Unit Load Design will bring readers up to date.

By Ed Brindley
Date Posted: 7/1/2007

Blacksburg, Virginia—On May 24, the Center for Unit Load Design (CULD) advisory board met to discuss issues of importance at the Center for Unit Load Design. I have had the pleasure of serving on this board since its inception a couple of years ago. Several things struck me about this meeting that makes it special.

   First, Dr. Mark White took his rightful place on the board, the first time he has had a chance to serve since his retirement from Virginia Tech was announced last fall. Second, we were glad to receive the news that the CULD is alive and financially healthy. Just a short time ago, there was an obvious concern about the budget to support the CULD since it would no longer be receiving any of the funds generated by the PDS Pallet Design Program. We were glad to hear that the Center has replaced all of these funds and that the future looks bright. The projects the Center is taking on have changed their direction as Ralph Rupert, the Center’s Director, has provided a positive leadership role since Mark’s retirement. Members of the board were encouraged by the positive reports we received.

   Unquestionably, one of the highlights of the meeting and of Mark’s retirement party in the evening was the announcement that Virginia Tech has made Mark a Professor Emeritus. This honorary distinction is reserved for the select few who truly excel during their careers. Many of Mark’s career highlights are stated in Display 1. On behalf of the entire CULD board and Mark’s many friends who attended the reception, I want to thank him for what he has meant to all of us who have been privileged to know him and work with him. The resolution in Display 1 says it better than I could, so I will let it speak for me.

   Our readers will be happy to hear that Mark is very pleased with the success and acceptance of his new consulting career. Until one accepts a challenge, he never knows what he can achieve. Mark has accepted the challenge and found that the materials handling world is anxious to tap into his energy and knowledge.

   About a dozen people, including me, had the honor of speaking at Mark’s retirement reception. In some ways it was more like a roast because many humorous antidotes were shared. There were a lot of laughs and a lot of tears. Dr. Paul Winistorfer, department head of the Wood Science and Forest Products Department, presented an Ode that he wrote about Mark.

   Several interesting facts were shared by a variety of Mark’s friends. One of the interesting facts that I want to share is about Mark’s early years. Those who know Mark know that he is an avid swimmer. You may not know, however, that Mark met his wife, Joy, while he was life guarding on the New Jersey beaches. Mark served as a lifeguard as a teenager and swam competitively in college. He once swam in a meet against Mark Spitz, the famous Olympic swimmer.

   Many readers remember a tribute I wrote in the Pallet Enterprise last November about Mark and his contributions to the pallet industry and the respect he has earned. I had the pleasure of sharing many of these thoughts again at his reception. Rather than repeat them here, I refer readers to the lead article in our November issue or to our web site.

   Dr. Paul Winistorfer presented Mark a plaque that will be placed on the pallet globe statue at Virginia Tech. Four men have been similarly honored for their contributions to the pallet industry. Mark will join the following impressive list of four giants in the pallet industry – Bill Sardo who started the pallet association and is generally recognized as the father of the pallet industry; Dr. George Stern, the man who started the pallet research program at Virginia Tech who was affectionately known as “Mr. Nail”; Dr. Walt Wallin, a man who gave tirelessly to his pallet research efforts with the Forest Service and developed the base of pallet endurance information that served as the basis for the Pallet Design System; and Tom Depew, a longtime member of the NWPCA who supplied much of the industry’s drive behind the research done at Virginia Tech. The plaque for Mark reads “Dr. Marshall S. White, Founder and Director, The Center for Unit Load Management – Pallet Design System Development Project Leader.”

   Congratulations Mark to your appointment as a Professor Emeritus. I know of nobody more deserving of this honor. Your friends in the pallet industry anxiously await the contributions that you are now making in your second career as a consultant, as well as your continued contributions with your friends at Virginia Tech. Good luck in your future endeavors.

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