The Search for Mitchell College’s Next President
Mitchell College’s Presidential search has launched. Our search committee members are:
Presidential Search Committee Co-Chairs – Kim Ruffing and Peggy Flood
Interim co-presidents – Catherine Wright and Mary-Jane McLaughlin
Faculty members – Tara Broccoli and Dean Roberts
Trustees – Luci Arango, Rick D’Avino, Donna Barclay, Nancy Dolan and Wally Kuhn
Director of Advising – Christina Chappelle
Director of Food Services – Tim Grills
Alumni Representative – Markus Melendez
Our search consultants are Anne Coyle and Joi Hayes-Scott of Russell Reynolds Associates.
The mission of Mitchell College is to celebrate and develop the power of unique minds.
At Mitchell College, revealing and unlocking student potential is the primary objective. Enthusiastically embracing a student population with diverse backgrounds, learning styles, interests, and strengths, the entire Mitchell community seeks to deeply understand students as unique individuals and help them develop to their fullest potential. Perhaps influenced by its location in a historic seafaring city at the confluence of the Thames River and Long Island Sound, Mitchell College’s navigational tendencies are evident. As each student embarks on their college journey – on the continuum of their life journey – its pioneering academic model and uniquely supportive transition models guide students’ self-discovery and growth – broadening perspectives, compelling empathy, developing critical thinking and collaborative skills, and instilling an appreciation of diverse ways of thinking and learning. There are often profound transformations in its students. These are the hallmarks of the Mitchell education.
History and Location
Mitchell College has developed its distinct liberal arts approach over 80 years, blending a tradition of mentoring with an expertise in teaching diverse learning styles to create a highly personalized and innovative collegiate model. Located on a beautiful waterfront campus in historic New London, Connecticut, Mitchell serves approximately 700 students in classes with an average 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The College transitioned from a two-year junior college to a baccalaureate institution in 1998, conferring its first bachelor’s degrees in 2000.
Mitchell was an early practitioner in specialized instruction for students with learning differences, with a dedicated center, now called the Bentsen Learning Center, established in 1981. Since then, the College has added to its suite of support offerings with Thames at Mitchell College, a college onboarding program, and the Mystic Program, a social support system for first-year students. Founded in 1938 by community members who understood the value of an accessible education, Mitchell is a committed member of the local community, building strong, creative, and cooperative partnerships that connect students to professional mentors and community service.
Programs of Distinction
The Mitchell Ability Model
Recognizing that the jobs of the future have not yet been created – and as the pace of change continues to accelerate – The Mitchell Ability Model put abilities at the forefront of the traditional liberal arts model by emphasizing the following abilities, which students need to be flexible, capable, and adaptable:
- Critical and creative thinking;
- Analysis and problem-solving;
- Information and communication technology literacy;
- Diversity and global perspectives;
- Values, ethics and social responsibility; and
- Social interaction.
Within a flexible pacing framework, students then learn core information about a field of endeavor with room to explore other interests and concentrations – emerging with the full benefits of a liberal arts degree plus transferable skills that are essential to a lifetime of employability and personal success.
Academic and Social Support
Thirty-five percent of Mitchell student participate in one of the following Living and Learning Support programs:
- Thames at Mitchell College – For students who are not quite ready for a full course-load and who would benefit from a highly nurturing on-ramp to college, Thames offers deeper individualized academic and social support for students with learning differences and those seeking additional college preparation—all on the campus of Mitchell College.
- The Mystic Program – A highly intentional social support system for full-time, first-year Mitchell students, Mystic helps them navigate the challenges of living on their own, adjust to residential life, and achieve full involvement within the Mitchell community.
- Bentsen Learning Center – A signature academic support program for students with diagnosed learning differences and attention deficit disorders, the BLC program teaches powerful success strategies for college and life.
Integrative Career Development
By graduation, all Mitchell students have completed at least one professional internship or career lab experience. Mitchell’s pioneering four-year career immersion model links coursework to career from students’ first days on campus. Working one-on-one with career specialists, students cultivate compelling resumés, practice interviewing skills, go behind the scenes with tours and job shadowing opportunities, and apply learning through internships or labs on campus or with one of Mitchell’s more than 40 professional community partners.
Mitchell has strong athletics participation, with more than one-third of students participating in at least one of 12 NCAA Division III athletics programs. The College also has a proud winning tradition, including a baseball team that has, over the last five years, produced the highest win percentage in New England and ranks fourth nationally in the category. A full complement of intramural and club sports rounds out the Mitchell athletics offering.
Mitchell Performing arts offers myriad opportunities in musical theater and drama, chorus, dance, and instrumental and voice instruction. The resident professional theater company, Flock Theatre, offers students opportunities in performance, production, course instruction, and internships, and the newly reconstructed Red Barn theater space sets the stage for students to shine and to build strong community involvement. The city of New London is steeped in the arts tradition, with the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, which has been called “the launchpad of American theater,” and the Garde Arts Center, which annually hosting hundreds of artistic performances and films, right in Mitchell’s backyard.
Vision, Agility, and Stability
Stabilizing and growing College resources, building the distinctive positioning of the College and aligning resources behind that positioning – while remaining responsive to change – is the overarching goal of the Campus Master Plan and Financial Model.
Campus Master Plan
The College began implementing a five-year Campus Master Plan including Strategic Frameworks for each area of the College in 2017. The built-in flexibility of the Frameworks has allowed the College to nimbly respond to changing needs through prioritized decisions across areas. In accordance with the Campus Master Plan and Strategic Frameworks, the College has accomplished the following:
- Reimagined the liberal arts, implementing the Mitchell Ability Model, including core and explore and flexible pacing;
- Reconstructed the iconic Red Barn, which is now in play as a beautiful, technologically advanced, performing arts venue, student activity space, and community resource;
- Significantly invested in athletics facilities renovations and developed a plan for field improvements; and
- Remodeled the Waterfront residences, currently home to the Thames transition program.
College resources have grown and stabilized over the last five years. The College created a multi-year plan to grow revenue and achieve financial equilibrium—a balanced budget which supports fulfillment of the College’s mission and maintains and grows physical and endowment assets and reserves. Further securing its financial position, Mitchell College has balanced the budget in each year.
As part of the multiyear plan, the College will fully fund depreciation annually and address the physical plant priorities that remain. Mitchell is projecting operating surpluses under the plan to build up reserves and make contributions to endowment, all to build its asset base.
Diversity and Numbers
Mitchell College fosters a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The current student body is made up of:
- 58 percent male students; 42 percent female students
- 36 percent students of color
- 22 percent first-generation college students
- 95 percent degree-seeking students receive need- or merit-based financial aid
Mitchell College seeks a leader with an abiding commitment to the values that define its mission and culture: celebrating and developing the power of unique minds, providing an ability-based education, and transforming students’ lives through a highly individualized and holistic educational model.
The President reports to the Board of Trustees and works in close collaboration with the Board and the senior leadership of the College to execute its strategy in a manner that reflects Mitchell’s distinctive mission, appreciation for shared governance, and ambitions for the future.
The following positions report directly to the President:
- Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College
- Chief of Staff
- Vice President of Finance
- Vice President of Enrollment and Athletics
- Chief Information Officer
- Director of Facilities
Mitchell’s considerable achievements over the last several years establish the foundation for the next President to seize a set of opportunities to promote and enhance the College’s distinctive advantages. With bold leadership and enthusiasm for the College’s mission, the next President will be expected to focus on the following priorities:
Provide inspirational leadership
- Embrace strategic change, guide complex discussions, and make difficult decisions that will sustain Mitchell’s independence during a disruptive time in the higher education landscape;
- Unite the diverse group of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents who make up the Mitchell community toward common goals; and
- Foster an environment that encourages discussion, reflection, and debate as pedagogy and technology continue to evolve.
Strengthen organizational capacity
- Promote a collegial environment that empowers and engages faculty;
- Implement ongoing campus improvement plans to keep technology and campus facilities up to date and to address any deferred maintenance;
- Recruit, develop, and retain faculty and staff that reflects the diversity of the student body and foster a culture of equity and inclusive excellence;
- Enhance the student experience; and
- Keep Mitchell at the forefront of academic support, enhance transition and wellness programs, and promote the continued implementation of the ability-based model.
Raise profile and resources
- Enhance the College’s national visibility and articulate its distinctive program to a wider audience;
- Demonstrate Mitchell’s impact and success to alumni, foundations, parents, and other donors;
- Increase enrollment in all programs to reach target levels;
- Continue the tradition of excellence in athletics;
- Strengthen mutually beneficial relationships in New London and throughout the state and region;
- Manage the College’s resources to ensure long-term financial stability; and
- Engage alumni in the life of the College and in support of its mission.
The President must hold an advanced degree; a terminal degree is preferred. Strong candidates would be expected to demonstrate the following:
- Outstanding communication skills, including writing, public speaking, and active listening;
- Dedication to the College’s mission, including an unwavering focus on providing students with a transformational educational experience;
- Understanding of the market challenges faced by small colleges;
- Consultative decision-making skills that include the ability to build community and consensus;
- Penchant for leading by example and engaging with all constituents in a highly visible and approachable manner;
- Managerial acumen, including financial savvy and budget experience;
- Appreciation for faculty and staff concerns and the credibility to provide academic leadership;
- Innovative thinking, including the ability to anticipate trends and seize opportunities and to manage change;
- Understanding of learning differences; and
- Alacrity for building relationships on behalf of the College and for raising funds to support its mission.
Nominations, inquiries, and expressions of interest should be sent to Mitchell@russellreynolds.com.
Mitchell College is an Affirmative Action-Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, disability and genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization or other nonmerit factors.