March 2, 2004


Lewisburg, Pa. — Brian C. Mitchell, president of Washington & Jefferson College since 1998, has been named the 16th president of Bucknell University.

Mitchell, 51, will join Bucknell July 1, succeeding Steffen H. Rogers, who announced his June 30 retirement last May.

Mitchell is a leading expert in higher education who is regularly quoted in major media outlets on issues related to private education and its contributions to today's society. From 1995 to 1998, Mitchell was president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP), in Harrisburg, Pa., an organization representing private colleges and universities in the state.

The announcement of Mitchell's selection was made by Susan Crawford, chair of Bucknell's board of trustees. She said that Mitchell "is uniquely qualified to be president at this point in Bucknell's history. He has a deep knowledge of the issues affecting private higher education, he has demonstrated leadership in working within and outside the university community, he understands and appreciates the academic culture at institutions like Bucknell, and he is an effective fundraiser."

Said Mitchell: "Bucknell University is among a handful of the leading universities in America. It is a tremendous honor to be selected as the university's new president. Bucknell is a place of exceptional promise, enormous unrealized potential, and broad ambition. The university's academic programs define what quality means in American higher education, especially at the undergraduate level. My wife, Maryjane, and I eagerly look forward to becoming members of the Bucknell University community."

Norman Garrity, a Bucknell trustee and chair of its presidential search committee, said, "We developed a careful, thorough search process with the goal of selecting an exceptional leader who could take this remarkable institution to an even higher level of excellence. Brian Mitchell is the right person to do that. He will be an outstanding CEO." Mitchell also will become a full member of Bucknell's board of trustees.

Washington & Jefferson is a nationally ranked liberal arts college with about 1,200 students in Washington, Pa., about 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, a publication that covers national higher education issues, credited Mitchell last year with forging a close and collaborative relationship with the city of Washington. Mitchell developed a document called the "Blueprint for Collaboration," which outlined ways the college could work with the city on several fronts. During his tenure at Washington & Jefferson, he began a series of "Coffee with the College" meetings, which gave community members a chance to talk with him and other administrators.

During his six years at Washington & Jefferson, the college has:

  • Experienced a renaissance in building and campus renovation, a renewal of its liberal arts curriculum, a revival of development efforts, and a refreshed sense of community spirit and pride.

•        Revised its academic curriculum, adding six new programs: gender and women's studies, information technology leadership, environmental studies, child development and education, international business, and neuroscience. Majors also have been introduced in music and theatre.

  • Added three buildings to the campus: the Vilar Technology Center, the New Residence Hall, and the Howard J. Burnett Center (academic building). One additional building, a mirror image of the New Residence Hall, is under construction.

  • Added new facilities: Cameron Stadium, the multi-sport athletic complex, the Swanson Wellness Center in the Old Gym, redesigned courtyards, walkways and landscaping, and renovated the Commons.

  • Raised $83.7 million for Revolutionary! The Campaign for Washington & Jefferson College, which Mitchell launched on his first day in office. During the campaign, 75 percent of faculty, administration, and staff have given to the college.

  • Increased selectivity in admission. Acceptance rates have dropped from the historical 80 percent of applicants admitted to 40 percent. Average SAT scores for the class of 2007 rose 44 points over the average for the class of 2006.

Mitchell, who holds a doctoral and master's degree from the University of Rochester and his bachelor's degree from Merrimack College, has received numerous grants and academic awards. Among his awards are grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Department of the Interior. He received the Haskell Award for Distinguished Teaching in the Humanities from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and the Albert J. Beveridge Grant for Research in American History, awarded by the American Historical Association.

A specialist in 19th-century urban, ethnic and labor history, Mitchell is author of The Paddy Camps: The Irish of Lowell, 1821-1861 (University of Illinois Press, 1988), a critically acclaimed work.

He has extensive teaching experience at colleges and universities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Virginia, and was a program officer in the Division of State Programs of the National Endowment for the Humanities before becoming president of the Council of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania (CICU) in 1991.

Mitchell serves as chair of the Pennsylvania Selection Committee for the Rhodes Scholarships. He is a commissioner of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, and a member of the boards of directors for the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania and the Greater Pittsburgh Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

A past chair of the National Association of Independent College and University State Executives, he also has served on the boards of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, and National History Day.

Mitchell is married to Maryjane (Murphy) Mitchell.

In late January and early February, Mitchell and two other finalists interviewed on campus and participated in hour-long open forums, in which they made brief statements and took questions from faculty, administration, staff, and students.

Bucknell's search committee requested feedback on all the candidates from the university community and used that information in its deliberations.

The committee began planning a comprehensive search for a new president shortly after President Rogers' May 2003 announcement that he would retire this June.

At that time, Garrity said the committee's goal was "to find an exceptional leader who will continue the positive momentum that Bucknell has enjoyed over the years and take the university to new levels of success and achievement."

The search committee consisted of eight members of Bucknell's board of trustees, two faculty members, two administration/staff representatives, one student, and one Bucknell alumnus.

Founded in 1846, Bucknell is a highly selective liberal arts institution, with about 3,500 students, in Lewisburg, Pa. In addition to its liberal arts curriculum, it also offers professional programs in engineering, management, and education.

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