Dr. Peter T. Mitchell

As former President of Columbia College from 1988-97, Dr. Peter T. Mitchell has returned to Columbia College to serve as interim president. Dr. Mitchell has a passion for Columbia College and has an understanding of and appreciation for the leadership role the College plays in South Carolina. Under his leadership the Women’s Leadership Institute was established, the Johnnie Cordell Breed Leadership Center was built, and Mitchell helped secure funding for the Barbara Bush Center for Science & Technology. 

Dr. Mitchell is a Michigan native and earned his B.A. in English and Religion from Albion College and later moved on to earn his M.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. Following this, Dr. Mitchell earned an Ed.S. in Information Systems Technology from Indiana University and an Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Northeastern University. 

Dr. Mitchell returns to Columbia College with a wealth of knowledge in higher education and an enthusiasm for student success. Prior to joining Columbia College in 1988,  he served as President for five years at Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts. Following his time at Columbia College, Dr. Mitchell served as president of Albion College for 10 years and stepped in to serve as interim President of Lake Superior State University from 2017-2018, following the tragic death of their president.  Columbia College and Albion both achieved record enrollments during his tenure and Lasell, Columbia and Albion all completed successful fundraising campaigns under his leadership.

Over the years, Dr. Mitchell has provided leadership on numerous state, regional, and national boards including Chairman of the South Carolina Association of Colleges & Universities, the National Association of Colleges and Schools of the United Methodist Church, the Michigan Colleges Foundation Council of Presidents, and the Michigan Campus Compact and the Michigan Association of Independent Colleges & Universities, as well as Vice Chair of the Women’s College Coalition. He is a recipient of the 1998 Order of the Palmetto, the highest award to a citizen of South Carolina, the 1999 Philip A. Hart Award for advocacy for women at the national level, and was selected in 2000 as one of five presidents to receive the Knight Foundation Presidential Leadership Award.

In 2007, Mitchell founded Proactive Transition Management LLC, a consulting practice specializing in strategic planning, enrollment management, fundraising, and executive searches in higher education. He now serves as President of PTM, managing change and transitions for college and university presidents and trustees, providing results-oriented and strategic responses to specific problems, challenges, and opportunities with special emphasis on fundraising, enrollment management, strategic planning, retention, branding, college-community partnerships in economic development, and executive searches, compensation studies, evaluation and individually-tailored professional coaching programs for college and university presidents and vice presidents.

Dr. Mitchell is married to Rebecca Putnam of Tulsa, Oklahoma, an award-winning artist and community volunteer who served on several boards and commissions, including Founder and Chairman of Kids‘N’Stuff, an interactive children’s museum in Albion. Together, they have two daughters – Melissa M. Goldman, director of reading at a middle school in Hingham, MA and Stephanie M. Schechter, an attorney and consultant who lives in Fairfield, CT and one son, Peter Joshua living in Florida. His hobbies include golf, reading, and volunteer work in church and community organizations.   

Messages from President Mitchell

June 1, 2020—Statement on Justice and reconciliation following the death of George Floyd

Dr. Peter T. Mitchell offers a statement on justice and reconciliation following the death of George Floyd. He discusses plans to help the Columbia College campus community, build trust, seek reconciliation and affirm a sense of mutuality during these difficult times.

“We stand in solidarity with the African American community to proclaim the sanctity of every life. Our affiliation with the United Methodist Church prompts us to join our sisters and brothers across the City of Columbia, the State, and our nation in prayers for healing and reconciliation, but also for truth and justice.”

Read a Statement

April 26, 2020—Recap of the Student Meet and Greet with Dr. Mitchell

Here, Dr. Mitchell discusses his virtual meet and greet with Columbia College students. Watch as he provides his responses to the questions posed by the students during their chat. He also delivers his goal to offer hope, optimism and proven success to students, and his plan for Columbia College to continue to be a place where the voices of women are heard and heralded. 

April 16, 2020—The future of Columbia College

Dr. Mitchell discusses the latest updates about the future of Columbia College. Listen as he shares our plan to remain an outstanding, academically rigorous and well respected institution of integrity, educating women and men, for lives of service and meaning. You’ll also learn his plan for Columbia College to evolve, becoming THE premier coeducational liberal arts college here in the state capital.

April 16, 2020—Student Success

Dr. Mitchell discusses students success and provides encouraging words to Columbia College students during these difficult times. Listen as he provides resources for any students that may be facing challenges while learning virtually.


April 1, 2020—Welcome Dr. Mitchell