May 17, 2010

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By Julia Ferrante

LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Posse Foundation will honor Bucknell University President Brian C. Mitchell as a 2010 Posse Star at the foundation's 21st anniversary gala on May 26 in New York City.

Posse gives the award annually to individuals who exhibit leadership, make significant contributions in the field of education and positively affect people's lives.

"The Posse Foundation would not exist without the support of extraordinary leaders like Brian Mitchell," Posse President and Founder Deborah Bial said. "Because of Brian and his team, our partnership with Bucknell has resulted in incredible opportunities for our students."

Four Posse Stars, including Mitchell, will be recognized during the Posse Foundation Gala, which will be emceed by "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl and John Oliver of "The Daily Show." The other honorees are Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools; Derron Wallace, a Wheaton College Posse alumnus; and The Travelers Companies Inc.

The Posse Foundation began in 1989 after Bial, the president and founder, was inspired by a young student who said, "I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me." Posse now is one of the most comprehensive college access and youth leadership programs in the country, with sites in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Washington, D.C.

Commitment to diversity
Bucknell became a Posse partner university in 2004, largely due to Mitchell's commitment to the program. The University enrolled its first Posse, from Washington, D.C., in 2005 and later partnered with the Boston and Los Angeles Posse chapters. The first LA Posse will arrive at Bucknell this coming fall.

Bucknell has graduated two Posse cohorts. In the 2010-11 academic year, there will be 95 Posse scholars on campus. Bucknell and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are the only universities in the country with Posses from three cities.

"Brian Mitchell's honor as a Posse Star reflects both his personal passion and support for the partnership and Bucknell's commitment to become an institution that will continue to lead in this rapidly changing world of the 21st century," said Vice President for Enrollment Kurt Thiede, who with Mitchell spearheaded the program at Bucknell. "President Mitchell understands that Posse and programs like Posse are important agents of change — change that is required if our campus community will take full advantage of the opportunities the coming years will provide."

Posse has served as the foundation to Bucknell's efforts to meet the ambitious and critical goals for student enrollment set by The Plan for Bucknell's third strategic goal, which is to enhance diversity, Thiede said. In addition to providing a strong foundation to diversify the University campus, Posse provides a model for other student cohort partnerships that focus on building a shared identity and support network for students.

"As he arrived on campus six years ago, President Mitchell quickly recognized that investments in Posse would pay immediate and long-term dividends in the University's accelerated effort to make the greater campus community more reflective of changing national and global demographics," Thiede said.

Building connections
Posse recruits and trains student leaders from public high schools and sends them in multicultural teams — or posses — to top colleges and universities. Posse students are supported by scholarships, mentors and their peers as they navigate their way through college. More than 3,100 Posse Scholars have been awarded $330 million in four-year, full-tuition merit scholarship from the organization's partner institutions. More than 70 percent of the scholars have started or led campus organizations and 90 percent graduate, a rate that is significantly higher than the national average.

This year, 480 public high school students from seven cities will receive $60 million in four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships.

With the Los Angeles group, Bucknell joins Mount Holyoke College as the first partner institutions to recruit scholars for Posse's new Civic Engagement Program, designed to prepare students to effectively address social justice issues. The program, underwritten by a five-year grant from The New World Foundation of NYC, requires each Posse Scholar — regardless of academic major — to participate in a summer internship with a community-based organization.

Mitchell, who was also recently elected chair of the Board of Trustees at Merrimack College, will finish his sixth year as Bucknell's 16th president this June.

Contact: Division of Communications