President Mitchell Announces New Job
After six years marked by dramatic increases in applications, fundraising, and national reputation, Theodore R. Mitchell is leaving the presidency of Occidental College to become president and CEO of the San Francisco-based NewSchool Venture Fund.
Mitchell will remain at Occidental until Sept. 1. After that date Kenyon S. Chan, currently vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, will serve as interim president until a national search for a successor - now underway -- is completed.
“The six years of Ted's presidency have been among the very best in our 118-year history,” said Cathie Selleck '55, chair of the Occidental College Board of Trustees. “Ted will surely be remembered as one of Oxy's greatest presidents. Under his leadership, Occidental has prospered on all fronts - academic excellence, fundraising, admissions, and national reputation. NewSchool's decision to hire Ted is a recognition of these strengths, and of Occidental's remarkable success in providing access to higher education to talented students, whatever their background. While we are saddened by his departure, we are gratified that his new position will allow him to continue to advance the mutual goals shared by Occidental and NewSchools.”
“I have been privileged, enormously privileged, to serve as president of Occidental. Our mission and the way we live it; our commitment to excellent teaching; and our focus on creating leaders for a global, multi-cultural society not only set Oxy apart among liberal arts colleges, but make us a model for America,” said Mitchell. “I am proud of what we have done together over the past six years. The College is in fine financial shape; we have made dramatic improvements across the board. This has been a team effort and I am grateful for the skill and dedication of the administration, faculty, and staff who have brought us so far. Occidental has the wind at its back; its future is bright and I will always be among its biggest boosters.”
Applications to Occidental set a new record each year of the Mitchell administration, even as the college maintained its status as the country's most diverse nationally ranked liberal arts college, according to U.S. News & World Report. This year, the college received more than 5,000 applications for 430 spaces in the Class of 2009. Two-thirds of admitted students came from the top 10 percent of their high school class.
Occidental's superb faculty is one of the chief drawing points for prospective students; over the past six years, two dozen tenure-track faculty have been hired at Occidental in national searches that attracted thousands of applicants. In each case, Occidental was able to hire its first choice from the country's top graduate schools.
Gifts to Occidental will set a new record in 2004-05, rising above $20 million, more than twice the amount raised six years ago. Alumni participation rates have risen from 34 percent in 1999 to 47 percent this year; alumni giving has more than doubled to $2.8 million. Fundraising success coupled with astute management has eliminated chronic operating deficits, produced annual surpluses, and led Moody's to rate Occidental's latest bond issue at Aa3, an exemplary rating matched by few other liberal arts colleges.
Occidental also enjoyed a new level of national visibility during the Mitchell administration. Routinely drawing top ratings from national college guides, Occidental was twice named one of the hottest colleges in the country by Newsweek and by the Wall Street Journal as one of a handful of “colleges for a new era.”
During his tenure, Mitchell played an active role in local, statewide, and national debates about K-12 school reform. “There is no future for any of us, nor for American democracy, without a healthy public school system,” Mitchell said. “It is my passion for educational equity that led me to Occidental and it is that same passion that draws me to NewSchools.”
The NewSchools Venture Fund is a national nonprofit venture philanthropy fund working to transform public education for underserved children by supporting educational entrepreneurs who create high-quality education programs to improve urban public schools. During its first seven years, NewSchools has invested more than $30 million in such ventures as Teach for America, New Leaders for New Schools, Aspire Public Schools, and Achievement First. Mitchell, a member of the NewSchools board since 1998, succeeds Kim Smith as CEO of the venture fund.
“Kim is one of the great education visionaries of this generation,” said Mitchell. “She has built an extraordinary network of education entrepreneurs who are changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of kids across America. I am excited about joining the NewSchools team and honored to succeed Kim.”