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FAMU Marching Band Director Dr. Julian White Retires

By: Eyewitness News; Mike Springer Email
By: Eyewitness News; Mike Springer Email

Tallahassee, Florida - May 11, 2012

Dr Julain White sat down with WCTV to talk about his decision to retire. Check out the whole interview below.

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Tallahassee, Florida - May 10, 2012

Doctor Julian White has been a part of the FAMU community for more than half a century. First as a student, then as band director. But now that chapter has come to a close and not without controversy.

Longtime Florida A&M Band Director Julian White says mounting troubles with the band following the hazing-related death of drum major Robert Champion are a factor in his decision to retire.

The 71-year-old White unexpectedly retired Thursday after serving nearly 40 years with the Marching 100 -- the last 14 years as band director.

White admits he shares some responsibility for the ineligible band members, but he says the Athletic Department and Controller's Office was also involved in issuing per diem checks to band members for trips and should've been checking students' eligibility.

Dr. Julian White was part of the FAMU marching band since 1973 and helped shape it to become an internationally renowned group. The band has played at Super Bowls, the Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards and presidential inaugurations.

White's resignation comes less than 24 hours after news circulated that more than 100 band members of the Marching 100 were not enrolled at the school. And one week after 13 people were arrested in connection to the hazing death of 26-year-old FAMU Drum Major Robert Champion.

"Doctor Julian White was a great band leader and I'm sorry things happened the way they did," says Sharon Paul, a Tallahassee resident.

Since 1998, White has served as band director and chairman of the music department. He has overseen the band during some of its brightest and darkest moments. White's bands have performed in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Rose Bowl. White is a two-time recipient of the FAMU teacher of the year award.

But he's also faced scrutiny. White was temporarily suspended by the University after allegations of hazing surfaced with the death of Robert Champion. The Orange County Sheriff's Office says Champion was killed during a hazing incident at last year's Florida Classic.

"I feel like the influences of the public and of the university and of his peers and his colleagues kind of forced him into retirement," Tallahassee resident, Krea Harris.

White released a statement through his attorney Chuck Hobbs.
It says he will remain a 'loyal Rattler' and wishes the University 'continued success' .

White's replacement has not been named. The FAMU Board of Trustees has called for a meeting Monday 5-14-12 to get an update on the band and their situation from President Doctor James Ammons.
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Tallahassee, Florida - May 10, 2012

President James H. Ammons Statement Regarding the Retirement of Dr. Julian White

“We wish him well in his retirement. Given his position as department chair and director of bands, we must focus on moving forward with changes to the music department and the marching band.”

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Tallahassee, Florida - May 10, 2012

FAMU issues a statement in response to Mr. Hobbs release:

"In light of Dr. White's duties and responsibilities as the Director of Band s, Chair of the Music Department and Principal Instructor of the marching band section, it appears that Mr. Hobbs' assertions are totally unfounded and misplaced. Based upon my understanding, Dr. White was the ultimate recruiter and gatekeeper of those participating with the marching band including those who we have come to learned were not appropriately enrolled.Further, it appears that Mr. Hobbs is attempting now to conveniently shift the blame for prior conduct under Dr. White's immediate control and supervision."

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Tallahassee, Florida - May 10, 2012 - 3:45pm

Eyewitness News has learned that Dr. Julian White, the FAMU Marching 100 Band Director, has retired.

The longtime band director was put on administrative leave with pay after the death of Robert Champion.

Students protested the removal of Dr. White as the FAMU Director of Bands in front of Lee Hall on campus back in November 2011.

Dr. White’s attorney, Charles E. "Chuck" Hobbs II, had submitted written requests to FAMU President Ammons for the reinstatement of the FAMU Marching Band Director.

Dr. White addressed the media in November, saying he felt comfortable that he did everything he could to get rid of hazing.

Statement from Chuck Hobbs, Attorney for Dr. Julian White

After 40 years of service Dr. White, 71, has chosen to retire as Director of Bands and Distinguished Chair of the Florida A&M University Department of Music.

Dr. White has been a proud FAMU Rattler for more than half a century, first as a student member of the marching band, and later as a drum major of the world-renowned Marching 100. A 1963 graduate, Dr. White returned to his alma mater 1973 after a successful stint as a high school band director. Dr. White was associate professor and associate director of bands from 1973-1997. Dr. Julian E. White, a tenured and Distinguished Professor of Music, who has served as Chairman of the Music Department and Director of Bands, including the wind ensemble, symphonic and concert bands, as well as the world-famous Marching 100 since 1998.

For a period of ten years, he served as drill designer for the McDonald’s All-American High School Band with appearances at Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City, the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California and the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. His drills have been featured in performances on all major television networks, and the Bastille Day Ceremony in Paris, France.

Presently Dr. White assists with halftime shows for Bowl Games of America and is on the adjudication staff for Music Festivals USA, International Music Festivals and Heritage Music Festivals, in addition to writing drill shows for high school and college bands. He has also served as guest conductor at the Mid-West International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, Illinois. He is very active as a conductor and clinician for middle and high school bands, summer band camps, and district, state, national and international music conferences and workshops.

Dr. White leaves a legacy that includes having taught thousands of students, many of whom have become successful has produced doctors, lawyers, nurses; educators in all fields, school administrators, musicians, music teachers, and band directors on the elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels themselves.

Most recently, White was recipient of the Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity’s Achievement Award, which is the organization’s highest honor. At FAMU, White was a two-time the recipient of the FAMU Teacher of the Year Awards, as well as the FAMU Army ROTC Teacher of the Year Award. Just last month, he received the FAMU Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity/Kappa Delta Alumni Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. White has received the NAACP Achievement Award and is a past recipient of the Florida A&M University Superior Accomplishment Award. He also has received the FAMU Distinguished Professor/Advanced Teacher of the Year Award, the FAMU Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award; the FAMU Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Thurgood Marshall Outstanding Achiever Award sponsored by the Fed Ex Orange Bowl Committee. Dr. White was honored by the Kappa Kappa Psi National Band Fraternity with the Distinguished Service to Music Award, first won by the legendary John Phillip Sousa.

Next week, White will be honored as a William N. Raines Sr. High School Legend, which will include the designation of the Julian E. White Performing Arts Wing in his honor.

“Dr. White remains a loyal FAMU Rattler and wishes his alma mater continued success in the future. He looks forward to spending more time with his family.”

Chuck Hobbs, Attorney for Dr. Julian White

Stay with Eyewitness News for much more on this story.


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