J. Daniel White, Jr., described as a guru in the original sense of the word and a significant part of the history of UNC Charlotte, passed away on June 12, 2018 following a brief illness. A memorial service will be held at 2 PM on Saturday, June 23 at Myers Park Baptist Church.
White was Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Religious Studies and was scheduled for retirement this spring following 47 years of service to the university. He was one of the first faculty members in the then-new Department of Religious Studies.
He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971 with a research specialty in religions of India and Southeast Asia and taught courses in Hinduism, Indian Art and Architecture, the cultural history of India, and Sanskrit, among many others. He has been an advisor on Indian and South Asian affairs to the State Department and multinational corporations.
“His service contributions to the university and profession are innumerable and various, spanning the full length of his career,” said Joanne Robinson, chair of the Department of Religious Studies. “His most recent, grant-funded work is a study of gay and bisexual men in India.”
White had long spoken out against racial bias and advocated for inclusion, including his work in later years to support efforts to secure rights and dignity for members of the LGBTQ community. Colleagues praised his dedication to students. “Once, he had a student who wanted to do independent study on the Bhagavad Gita but had a full-time job,” colleague Jeff Meyer said. “Dan drove fifteen miles once a week to meet with him during the student’s lunch hour, then made it back for his afternoon class.”
He also led numerous education abroad trips to India and Nepal over the years, introducing students and others to the wonders of the world and the importance of education abroad. His family described how, when he was a child, his grandfather provided him with a subscription to National Geographic magazine, which he read avidly – often in the company of his birddog, Pat – and which sparked a lifelong interest in India.
In lieu of flowers, please consider as a tribute to Dan contributions to the Myers Park Baptist Church’s Youth Department, 1900 Queens Road, Charlotte, NC 28207, or to UNC Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223, Attn: Ali Dubois, writing in the ledger: J. Daniel White Scholarship.
Arrangements are in the care of Robertson Funeral and Cremation; his complete obituary can be found on its website.