Guistwhite Remembered for Dedication to Students, College Completion

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It is with great sadness that Phi Theta Kappa Executive Director Dr. Rod Risley announces that Dr. Jack Guistwhite, for whom the Guistwhite Scholar Program was named, and creator of the first transfer scholarship for Phi Theta Kappa members, has died in Boca Raton, Florida, at the age of 94.

Dr. Guistwhite, who served as Community College Relations Officer at Florida Atlantic University before his retirement in 1982 after more than 35 years in the Florida State University System, also served as Florida Alumni Regional Coordinator Emeritus and was an International Honorary Member of Phi Theta Kappa.

Dr. Jack Guistwhite

In 1975 Dr. Guistwhite established the first Phi Theta Kappa transfer scholarship at Florida Atlantic University, leading the way for other senior institutions in the U.S. and elsewhere to follow suit. Phi Theta Kappa now boasts an ever-growing transfer scholarship program with more than 750 institutions of higher learning offering more than $37 million in scholarships to Society members. 

In 1991 the Guistwhite Scholar Program was created to honor of Dr. Jack Guistwhite and his wife, Margaret in recognition of their years of service to Phi Theta Kappa. Since 1992, this program has awarded more than $1.5 million in transfer scholarships to assist Phi Theta Kappa members in completing their baccalaureate degrees.

“Dr. Guistwhite was a man ahead of his time, a pioneer in preparing for the seamless transition of community college students transferring to the university. We celebrate his life as a true champion, who fought for scholarships for our students at every opportunity,” Dr. Risley said. “In addition to the numerous Guistwhite Scholars who benefited from his generosity, untold Phi Theta Kappa alumni may not realize that transfer scholarships they received or are now using to attend universities can actually be traced back to the actions of Dr. Jack Guistwhite.”

At FAU he served as Community College Relations Officer, the first one in the State University System, a position that put him in touch with community college students – Phi Theta Kappa members in particular. These contacts led him to establish the FAU/Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship Program, become the charter advisor of Alpha of Florida, one of the first Phi Theta Kappa university-based alumni associations in the nation, and Florida's first Alumni Regional Coordinator.

Dr. Guistwhite’s Phi Theta Kappa involvement was celebrated at the 1989 Annual Convention in Atlanta when, after 20 years of service to the Society, he was named Alumni Regional Coordinator Emeritus. It was there that plans for the Guistwhite Scholarship Program were unveiled.

The first class of Guistwhite Scholars was announced at the 1992 Phi Theta Kappa Convention in Washington, D.C.  Phi Theta Kappa selects 20 Guistwhite Scholars annually to receive $5,000 each in transfer scholarships.  Since the program’s founding nearly 400 students have received these scholarship funds to complete baccalaureate degrees.

Dr. Guistwhite’s last Phi Theta Kappa event was the 2007 Annual Convention in Nashville, where he was honored in a General Session, took part in the presentation of the Guistwhite Scholars, and attended a reception.  

“Being able to see so many students achieve their educational goals was an important part of Jack’s life. The Guistwhite Scholarship created in his name and that of his beloved wife Margaret is a legacy that will always honor him.” Dr. Risley said. “When Jack and Margaret were able, they took an active part in judging the Guistwhite Scholarships each year. And in later years, there was nothing they enjoyed more than visiting with and receiving personal thank- you letters from students who received the Guistwhite Scholarships, and hearing back from them about their successes. Jack and Margaret always said they had no children, but all the Guistwhite Scholars were like their children, and they were very proud of them all.”

Dr. Guistwhite is survived by his wife, Margaret. A full obituary with more information about Dr. Guistwhite’s life may be found in the Sun Sentinel online at http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/palm-beach/fl-obit-guistwhite-20120105,0,3403460,full.story.

Memorials may be sent to the Guistwhite Scholarship Fund at the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation in memory of Dr. Jack Guistwhite, http://www.ptkfoundation.org/giving-opportunities/make-a-gift-to-phi-theta-kappa/.

Dr. Jack Guistwhite