HARTFORD, CT, March 26, 2013 – Thomas Mitzel, who left Trinity nearly two years ago to become a dean at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX, will return to the College on July 1 as dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs. The appointment is for three years.
Trinity President James F. Jones Jr. announced the appointment of Mitzel on Tuesday, saying, “I know I speak for all of us in welcoming Tom back home to Trinity and in looking forward to working with him in the years to come.”
A former chemistry professor at Trinity who also served three years as associate academic dean, Mitzel was the unanimous choice of the Faculty Search Committee.
Mitzel, dean and professor of chemistry in the School of Natural Sciences and interim director of the Wild Basin Creative Research Center at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX, will succeed Rena Fraden, who left Trinity in January to accept a position at the College of the Pacific. Richard Prigodich, professor of chemistry, has served as interim dean of the faculty and will continue in this capacity until June 30.
Mitzel was chosen from a strong pool of candidates, many of whom had been nominated by their Trinity colleagues. Mitzel will serve as dean of the faculty during the last two years of Jones’ presidency and the first year of the new president’s term. Jones has announced that he will retire on June 30, 2015.
Mitzel joined Trinity’s faculty in 1996 and rose through the ranks, becoming a professor in 2011. He was the recipient of the Arthur H. Hughes Award for Excellence in Teaching for New and Continuing Faculty in 2003. Mitzel has also been awarded grants from numerous sources, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the National Science Foundation; Pfizer; the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and most recently, the W.M. Keck Foundation.
Calling Trinity his “home for 15 years and a major part of my family,” Mitzel said that among his goals is to “help strengthen trust and communication between the faculty and administration, while working with the campus to continually advance the College’s mission.”
Mitzel holds a B.S. in chemistry from Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD, and a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from Boston College. Prior to his arrival at Trinity in 1996, Mitzel was a postdoctoral fellow at The Ohio State University.
Describing his three years as associate dean at Trinity as “among the most satisfying and rewarding years from a professional point of view,” Mitzel said he learned that the administrative team must work collaboratively and efficiently to lead and support the academic work of the institution, that faculty members are strongly committed to student growth and learning, and that staff members provide dedicated support of those efforts.
Mitzel believes the four elements central to the College’s mission are an outstanding and diverse faculty; a rigorous curriculum; a talented, motivated and diverse body of students; and an attractive, secure, and supportive campus. All of those items, said Mitzel, “properly articulate the overall institutional commitment required to establish high-level learning opportunities for all students.”
Mitzel described himself as a “forward looking person, seeking to find the best pathways to advance the institution in both good, and dormant, economic times.”
In addition to focusing on those types of activities, Mitzel said he would like to help prepare a 10-year academic vision for the College, which he will begin planning with faculty and administrators upon his arrival.
“A short-term plan often leads to more questions than answers,” he said. “Embarking upon a long-term academic vision will allow for faculty and administrators to have a clear goal of how the College will evolve in the next decade. My goal, with the help of the faculty and administration, is to help move all facets of the campus community confidently forward as an elite academic institution.”