Faculty appointment strengthens economics program

As Sweet Briar College prepares to welcome new and returning students this month, academic departments have been assessing ways to strengthen their curricula. Business and economics are among the disciplines benefiting from the fresh resolve. One step is the faculty appointment of Leigh Ann White as a visiting assistant professor in economics. White, a health economist from the biotechnology industry, brings real-world experience that promises to benefit students of biology as well as economics and business.

Leigh Ann White '86
Leigh Ann White ’86

White earned her doctorate in health economics and health policy at The Johns Hopkins University and holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University in demography. Most recently, she worked at Biogen as an associate director of global market access for drug candidates in early clinical development. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company is one of the world leaders in biotechnology.

For White, the appointment marks her return to the campus where she earned her undergraduate degree in mathematics in 1986. She is among several alumnae hired to teach since President Phillip C. Stone took office on July 2. Others include Kaelyn Leake ’09, who joined Sweet Briar’s engineering faculty, Melanie Stine ’06 in environmental science and Amy Leigh Campbell ’97 in the government and international affairs department.

At Sweet Briar, White will work closely with assistant business professor Thomas Loftus. As in other academic areas, the economics and business programs lost some faculty members before a settlement was signed in court on June 22 to keep the College open — and usher in new era with different leadership.

“We’ve lost some really good people, but it’s also an opportunity to rethink the curriculum,” Loftus said. “Leigh Ann and I are finalizing her schedule, discussing teaching materials, putting her into contact with returning economics and business students, as well as continuing to lay plans for the growth of both departments. Among the ideas we are actively pursuing are new joint programs in healthcare, international economics and business, and nonprofit management. We have a very busy year ahead of us!”

“I am honored to join the faculty of Sweet Briar College in this pivotal year of renewal,” White said. “I get satisfaction out of watching people evolve independently with some guidance. So, I suspect I will be benefitting again from the Sweet Briar experience — from a different vantage point. My hope is that the students I teach will come away with a love of learning and will be prepared for solution-making of all varieties.”