David Mitchell joined Olympic College as president in 2002. At the end of the year, he’s retiring.                                Michelle Beahm / Kitsap News Group

David Mitchell joined Olympic College as president in 2002. At the end of the year, he’s retiring. Michelle Beahm / Kitsap News Group

Olympic College’s Mitchell: Supportive community made being president ‘a lot of fun’

BREMERTON — “I’ve had a great time working at this college,” said David Mitchell, who retires at year-end as president of Olympic College. “The community [has] been so supportive of the college.”

Mitchell announced his retirement earlier this year. He has been the face of OC since 2002 and accomplished a lot during his tenure.

One of his most significant accomplishments — the first one he listed when asked — was the increased number of bachelor’s degree programs now offered at Olympic College.

“There are over a dozen options now for baccalaureates here that didn’t exist when I came,” Mitchell said. “The vast majority of students I’ve spoken with wouldn’t be able to pursue baccalaureates because of being place-bound.”

Under Mitchell’s presidency, OC has added bachelor’s degree programs at the school and has developed partnerships with universities, including Washington State and Western Washington, for programs in which students start their four-year degree at OC then finish at the universities on OC’s campuses.

OC also expanded the Bremerton and Shelton campuses and opened a campus in Poulsbo during Mitchell’s presidency, and developed an international students program with 150 students enrolled.

All in all, Mitchell said he thinks the future of the school he’s helped grow is bright.

“I think it’s got a very strong future,” he said. “It’s in an area that’s growing. There’s room to expand. It continues to look at new programs and meet the local workforce needs. There’s room to grow here, room for businesses to grow, room for the college to grow.”

Mitchell came to OC after five years as president of South Seattle College, as well as a long career in education before that as a math professor.

“I’ve just enjoyed working in a higher education environment where you can create programs and services that have such a positive impact on people,” Mitchell said.“Students generally are here to make a positive difference in their lives. It’s good to be in an environment like that and help them get education and training to meet their goals. It’s a positive environment to be in.”

What’s next in his future? He doesn’t know.“My wife’s retiring the same day I do,” he said.“We’re going to stay in the area and do some traveling. But I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to think about it. But I’m sure in the next (four) weeks it’ll start to sink in. I’ll definitely do something.”

New president to be named in December

Mitchell’s last day as president of Olympic College is Dec. 31. His successor is expected to be announced in early December.

“It’s been an honor to be president of the college for the last 15 and a half years,” Mitchell said. “I’m really grateful to the community that they’re really supportive of the college. I’m very, very appreciative of that.It’s made being president of the college a lot of fun.”

Michelle Beahm is online editor for Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at mbeahm@soundpublishing.com.

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