South Carolina State University Dean of Students Mary M. White recently died following a battle with progressive stage IV breast cancer and leptomeningeal disease.

White was known for putting students first, the university said in a release. She and her three daughters all earned degrees from the university.

Affectionately known as “Mama White” by many students, she rejoined S.C. State in 2007 as the secretary in the Honors Program and was promoted as Student Service Program coordinator II in the newly named Dr. Emily E. Clyburn Honors College for a total of 14 years.

She was named dean of students in July 2022.

She was the 2019 Staff Employee of the Year for the Division of Academic Affairs as well as the 2019 University Staff Employee of the Year.

White worked in Brooks Health Center from 2001-2005, and she was a work-study student for Housing in Student Affairs from 1985-1988.

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A native of Orangeburg, she received her bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminal justice administration from Claflin University in 2003 and her master’s degree in transportation and civil engineering from S.C. State in 2017.

White is survived by her children, Valerie E. Nwadeyi, Deloris U. Nwadeyi, Maryah A. Smith and Jeremiah R. Brown; brother, Willie C. White; nephew, Jamerial B. White; grandchildren, Zuri P. Smith and Kevin J. Smith III; son-in-law: Kevin J. Smith II; and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, loving students, and dear friends.

A celebration of life service is planned for a later date. More information is available at

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