W.S. “Pete” White, Jr.
Class of 1947, BS
W.S. “Pete” White, Jr. is one of a handful of Virginia Tech engineering alumni who is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a recognition of his distinguished career at American Electric Power, spanning some four decades.
A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Mr. White served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war was over, Mr. White graduated from Virginia Tech’s electrical engineering department in 1948. He immediately joined AEP as an electrical engineer. During the Korean War, he served with the Defense Electric Power Administration.
Returning to AEP in 1952 as Assistant to the President, he became Office Manager in 1954, and Administrative Assistant to the Executive Vice President-Operations in 1958. He was a Sloan Fellow at MIT and earned a master’s in industrial management in 1958.
He transferred to Appalachian Power Company, an AEP operating company, in 1961 as the Assistant Manager of its Lynchburg District. He became Manager of the Lynchburg Division the following year. In 1966, he was named Assistant General Manager of the company, headquartered in Roanoke, Virginia. Mr. White was elected Assistant Vice President in 1967, Vice President in 1969, and, later that year, Executive Vice President and Operating Head of the company.
In 1972, Mr. White returned to New York and was elected Senior Vice President of Operations of the AEP Service Corporation and a Director of the parent AEP Company. In 1975, he was elected Vice Chairman of Operations of the Service Corporation, and, the following year, he became its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. In 1980, Mr. White moved to Columbus, Ohio, where AEP was relocating its headquarters. Mr. White retired from AEP in 1992. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Battelle Memorial Institute.
Mr. White became active as an alumnus of Virginia Tech, serving on its Board of Visitors from 1981 until 1989, culminating with the position of Rector. He received the University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1989, the William H. Ruffner Medal (for service) in 1990, and the College of Engineering’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1991. He is a member of the College of Engineering’s Committee of 100 and the university’s William B. Preston Society. He is a former director of the Virginia Tech Foundation.
In 1985, Mr. White helped to establish the AEP Professorship of Electrical Engineering in the College of Engineering. Most recently, the W.S. “Pete” White Chair for Innovation in Engineering Education was established by AEP with a generous gift of $500,000. The establishment of this chair in Mr. White’s honor allows Virginia Tech to generate new interest in the teaching of engineering and in improving the learning process. It is unique in its flexibility; the chair will be rotated biannually to a new recipient.
Class of: 1947
Year Inducted into Academy: 1999