Gwen Whitfield

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Gwendolyn Whitfield

Life and passing

The Assistant Dean of Business Education, Dr. Gwen Whitfield, passed away on April 8 2019, much to the sadness of Sewanee’s campus. Though Whitfield began at the University only a little over a year ago, she was admired and loved by the Mountain’s faculty and students.

A graduate of Howard, Wayne State, and Western Michigan Universities, Whitfield joined the economics department in February 2018 after working for the University of North Carolina at Asheville for four years. Dr. Courtney Thompson, assistant professor of American studies and women’s and gender studies, remembered her “earliest and most endearing memory” of Whitfield as one that showed her “unmistakable” kindness.

Director of the Babson Center, David Shipps (C’88), also recalled his colleague’s passion for the university. Shipps and Whitfield were hired around the same time and shared an equal amount of excitement about contributing to their newfound Sewanee community. Shipps stated that Whitfield brought a unique outlook to her job as associate dean of business education after leading similar programs at other universities.

“She believed in the power of the liberal arts,” said Shipps. “I think she viewed the popularity of our business minor as an opportunity to introduce a series of new classes regarding topics such as strategy development, organizational management and marketing so valuable to students seeking business careers following college.”

Students agreed wholeheartedly with Shipps’ observation. Especially Arantxa Ruiz Blake (C’20), a student and friend of Whitfield’s, who recalled the woman’s vibrancy, strength, and ambition. The professor remains a role model for Ruiz Blake both in and outside the classroom.

Kamala's comrade

Kamala Harris, right, protests South African apartheid with classmate Gwen Whitfield on the National Mall in 1982