Arnold L. Mitchem, President of the Council for Opportunity in Education, to Receive 2013 NAICU Award for Advocacy of Independent Higher Education

February 01, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 1 — Dr. Arnold L. Mitchem, president of the Council for Opportunity in Education, has been selected to receive the 2013 Award for Advocacy of Independent Higher Education from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).  The award will be presented on Feb. 5 by NAICU President David L. Warren during the NAICU annual meeting in Washington, D.C.  The awards reception, which begins at 6:30 p.m., will be held in the Regency B Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

The NAICU Advocacy Award was established in 1993 to recognize individuals outside of academe who have championed the cause of independent nonprofit higher education.  No single contribution makes one eligible to receive the award.  Instead, it recognizes a lifetime of service, initiative, and determination.

As the founding president of the Council for Opportunity in Education, the core advocacy and professional group for the federal TRIO programs, Mitchem has long stood as a model in Washington higher education circles for how to most effectively speak on behalf of low-income, first-generation, and disabled students.

By empowering TRIO students to be proud of the adversity they have overcome to attend and succeed in college, he provides elected officials with living examples of how their work is changing lives.  At the same time, for students who often have felt left out or left behind, his pride and faith in them enhances their sense of self-worth, as they present their case to those at the highest levels of government.

In 1994, when the Contract with America began to take shape, it became evident that federal student aid programs were at risk of being gutted.  Mitchem was the first to partner with NAICU in forming the Student Aid Alliance – a major initiative by the higher education community to ensure that student aid funding remained strong.  As a result of that joint effort, those programs were not cut but rather saw an increase in funding.  And the Alliance was a key force in establishing the strong bi-partisan support that federal student aid programs continue to enjoy today.

Mitchem began his career as a member of the history faculty at Marquette University, where he also earned a Ph.D. in foundations of education and served as director of Marquette’s TRIO programs.  Even long after leaving Marquette for Washington, D.C., to head the Council for Opportunity in Education, Mitchem has continued to speak passionately about the remarkable success first-generation-to-college students (a term he coined in congressional testimony) have at independent colleges and universities.

“For his passionate leadership and advocacy in making college possible for students who otherwise might never attend and succeed, and for his unwavering belief in a system of higher education that serves all of its citizens, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities is honored to present the 20th annual NAICU Award for Advocacy of Independent Higher Education to Arnold Mitchem,” said NAICU President David L. Warren.

In addition to his doctorate, Mitchem holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Colorado and 10 honorary degrees – including four from NAICU members: DePaul University, Marquette University, Lewis University, and Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

Mitchem is a longtime member of Marquette’s board of trustees, has done graduate work in European history as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, and is a past president of the Committee for Education Funding.

NAICU serves as the unified national voice of independent higher education.  With more than 1,000 member institutions and associations nationwide, NAICU reflects the diversity of private, nonprofit higher education in the United States.  NAICU members enroll 90 percent of all students attending private institutions.  They include traditional liberal arts colleges, major research universities, church- and faith-related institutions, historically black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, single-sex colleges, art institutions, two-year colleges, and schools of law, medicine, engineering, business, and other professions. 

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