After more than 15 years, Olympic College President Dr. David Mitchell announced Wednesday he will retire at the end of 2017. During his tenure, Dr. Mitchell oversaw significant changes at all three campuses of the College.
“Dr. Mitchell has provided 15 years of outstanding leadership to the OC community. He leaves the College stronger than when he came here,” said Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Stephen L. Warner. “Dr. Mitchell has always kept the students at the center of any discussion. His vision-focused direction enabled OC to meet the serious challenges community colleges have faced over recent years with comparatively little disruption. Through his leadership, the College’s mission, vision and values have become institutionalized and will continue to guide us during this time of transition.”
Dr. Mitchell has served as the President of Olympic College since 2002. During this time, the College secured more than $150,000,000 in capital funds for projects that have transformed the Bremerton campus and added capacity at the Poulsbo and Shelton campuses.
“Serving as the President of Olympic College has been a tremendous honor and the highlight of my professional career,” he said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to have served in this capacity for so many years and appreciative of all those I have worked alongside both in the College and the community. It is rewarding to reflect on all of the students who have been positively impacted by this College while I have been here.
I look forward to working with the College and community on the many important challenges and goals that need to be met between now and Dec. 31, 2017. We will continue to move forward with a strong pace and determination as we are guided by our mission of student learning and community well-being.”
The many changes that occurred during his time at OC include establishment of the International Student Program. The College, through a partnership with the Bremer Trust, now operates a residence hall where many of the international students live. During his tenure, OC established an Office for Equity and Inclusion and hired the College’s first Vice President to oversee this vitally important work.
Numerous baccalaureate programs were established thanks to partnerships with Washington State University and Western Washington University – Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (WSU); Business Administration, Cybersecurity, Environmental Policy, Environmental Science, and Multidisciplinary Studies (WWU); and others. The College also maintains strong partnerships with Brandman University and Old Dominion University, which offer online programs geared towards working professionals and military veterans.
OC was among the first community colleges in the nation to create a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 2008. In addition to the BS in Nursing, OC now offers baccalaureate programs in Computer Information Systems, and Organizational Leadership and Technical Management.
Today, all three campuses look vastly different from when he started thanks to funding support from the State Legislature. At the Bremerton campus, the College built the Science and Technology Building in 2007. The Humanities and Student Services Building and Sophia Bremer Child Development Center were completed in 2010. The College is currently building a College Instruction Center, the largest funded project in State community and technical college history; it is slated for completion in September 2017.
Construction of the OC-Poulsbo campus was completed in 2004 with more expansion to come when the 2,600-square-foot modular building is completed this spring. In Shelton, the Johnson Library was completed in 2003 and the main campus remodeled in 2004. This spring, OC-Shelton will complete a 2,600-square-foot weld shop, funded by the Bremer Trust.
As one of the larger employers in the region, the College’s impact extends beyond the classroom. In 2012, Dr. Mitchell received the Economic Development Champion Award from Kitsap Economic Development Alliance (KEDA) for OC’s contributions to regional economic development.
The most significant recognition for the College came in 2015, when it was named a top ten finalist for the Aspen Prize, the preeminent recognition of community and technical colleges in the nation. This placed OC in the top one percent of community and technical colleges nationally. Among the qualities cited by the Aspen Institute was OC’s strong ties to industry, including Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility; transfer and graduation rates; and job placement rates. Dr. Mitchell praises the faculty, staff and administration for their commitment to students and their outstanding work. He attributes the Aspen recognition and the positive outcomes of Olympic College to them.
Also in 2015, the Washington Association of College Trustees (ACT) named Dr. Mitchell CEO of the year, in recognition of his and OC’s statewide contributions to the community and technical college system and the success of the College.
Dr. Mitchell will retire with 42 years in the community and technical college system. He was math faculty for six years at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, where he was also the faculty president. He spent 22 years in the Seattle Colleges District, including five as the president of South Seattle College.
Dr. Mitchell announced his retirement a year in advance to give the Board, the College, and the community ample time to work through the extensive and crucial process of selecting the next leader of the College.
The OC Board of Trustees will launch a nation-wide search over the next several months for a new president.