Mitchell shares memories

By Mike McPhee

President Brian C. Mitchell reflected on his time at the University and the important role he played on campus during his six years here in an interview on Wednesday morning. He also discussed his decision to leave the University four years earlier than initially planned.

“It’s a little bit like an applicant coming in. You choose Bucknell sometimes because you know it when you feel it. You also know when to leave because you know it when you feel it,” Mitchell said.  “At the half term point, you really have to make an evaluation … to make a determination as to whether you hang up your cleats at the right moment or stay one season too long. For me, this seemed to be the right moment.”

As president, Mitchell is no stranger to heavy workloads and balancing work with social life.

“If you take it seriously, it’s a 100 hour a week job. And I think if I made a mistake, the mistake I probably made is that I tend to treat my jobs as crusades—and what that means for me is that I took the 100 hours and actually worked them,” he said. “If I could do something different, that’s one of the things I’d do different—I’d probably have slowed down a little bit, maybe cut 20 hours a week out of it.”

Mitchell said he is proud of the accomplishments that the University has made during his time here. He emphasized that it wouldn’t have been possible without his support staff and the help of administrators, faculty and students.

“I’m the first CEO of the University,” he said. “My job was to establish momentum for the University, to give it a vision… I like to think I was successful, not always every day, but I think one of the things I want to convey to you is that it’s really important to understand we had a good team in place.”

Many aspects of today’s University student life now taken for granted started during Mitchell’s term. Some examples include Parkhurst campus dining, a revision of the Public Safety department that included arming officers, installation of the security card system for dorms, the POSSE scholarship programs and the Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University bookstore downtown.

The University’s financial position is also strong today.

“You went through the worst recession of your lifetime and you wouldn’t have felt it or experienced it at Bucknell,” said Mitchell. “I think the University metrics are in the best shape in the University’s history.”

Despite his busy schedule and the traveling required of his job, Mitchell still tries to find time to connect to students.

“If you want to be seen by the students, there’s sometimes four gigs a night … you get invited to everything,” said Mitchell. “You’re either in an intense mood on campus or selling hard in a town you can’t remember. I won’t miss that aspect of it.”

Mitchell said that he decided to stay for a sixth year before leaving the University for two major reasons: To facilitate a smooth transition to the next president, and to allow him to stay and experience some of the important yearly events at the University—commencement and the faculty promotions announced tonight.

Mitchell said he was unsure what the future held for him but was not concerned.

“I’m going to take some time to travel and to write… I have the luxury of sabbatical time, and I’m going to take it, and I’m not going to jump at the first cool job,” he said. He described some of the job offers that he’s received so far as “jobs I would have killed for 10 years ago.”

Mitchell said that he and Maryjane will do anything than can to help the new president, John Bravman, transition to life at the University.

“Some of you will be Bucknellians by pedigree. For Maryjane and me, it was always being Bucknellian by choice for six years—we ate, drank and slept Bucknell,” he said. “What that meant, I think, is that we have a deep love of the place. We wish it the very best.”

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