Barbara M. White, 64, a retired foreign service officer who attained the rank of career minister and who was president of Mills College in Oakland, Calif., from 1975 to 1980, died of cancer Dec. 30 in a nursing home in Duxbury, Mass. She lived in Washington.

Miss White began her government career in 1942 with the old Office of War Information. In 1965, she was named special assistant for policy to United States Information Agency (USIA) Director Leonard Marks. Between 1966 and 1972, she was the agency's associate director for policy and research, then deputy director for policy.

In 1972, she was named deputy U.S. representative for special political affairs to the United Nations, with the rank of ambassador. She held that post until she retired.

After leaving the government, in addition to serving as president of Mills, she was a consultant to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the USIA, and served on the boards of the Bank of America and the National Education Association.

She was a 1966 recipient of the National Civil Service Award, and a 1967 recipient of the Rockefeller Public Service Award.

Miss White was born in Evanston, Ill. She was a 1941 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, where she belonged to Phi Beta Kappa, and earned a master's degree in American studies at Harvard University.

She served with the Office of War Information in Europe and Cairo as well as in Washington. From 1947 to 1951, she left government to serve as international affairs director of the League of Women Voters. Returning to the government in 1951, her jobs during the next 10 years included a variety of USIA posts in Europe. From 1961 to 1965 she was embassy public affairs officer in Santiago, Chile.

Survivors include a sister, Dorothy Galassi of Duxbury.