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St. Philip's College Library

MLK Campus: 210-486-2330
Location: Center for Learning Resources (CLR)

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Location: Building 1-C123



SPC Remembers Dr. 

St. Philip’s College celebrates life, achievements of former college President Dr. Stephen Robert Mitchell (1931-2017)
Dr. Stephen Robert Mitchell, 7th President of St. Philip's College

SPC Remembers Dr. Stephen Robert Mitchell (1931–2017)

St. Philip's College (SPC), observing its 30th anniversary as a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) member institution, and the 30th anniversary of the college’s Southwest Campus (SWC) at 800 Quintana Road, joins all in celebrating the life of Dr. Stephen Robert Mitchell (1931-2017), the former and seventh president of SPC (1985-1992) who passed Aug. 28 at his home in Cupertino, Calif.

Although no family-organized service for Mitchell has been scheduled at this time, arrangement details for Mitchell will be shared online at the college when available, and a family-led celebration of Mitchell’s life is forecast for fall of 2017, location to be announced by the family. In the interim, expressions can be communicated via the SPC Facebook Page that is also accessible from the college web home page

Mitchell was in service when employees at SPC suggested to him that the college could supplement its operational budget by seeking a fair share of federal funding that 96 HBCU-designated institutions in 19 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands use to strengthen their capacities to serve. Under Mitchell SPC became a multi-campus institution with the 1987 addition of the SPC Southwest Campus and a bevy of programs that have provided college educations and middle class financial security for generations of San Antonio-based alumni for nearly 25 percent of the 119-year-old college's service life.

Mitchell started his career in academics teaching college-level political science in Washington and Calgary before assuming administrative employment in 1967 in positions at universities in Wisconsin, Washington, Michigan, Hawaii and finally in Texas. Following his term as SPC president, Mitchell oversaw daily operations at SPC, Palo Alto College (PAC) and San Antonio College (SAC) in his capacity as district deputy chancellor of the Alamo Community College District (1992-1995) and the first president of Northwest Vista College (NVC) during its construction before retiring from service in 1996.

SPC received its federal HBCU designation in 1987, two years into the leadership of Mitchell. A radiologic technology program faculty member suggested the HBCU designation as an institutional performance best practice upon returning from a field visit to the radiology program at Tuskegee Institute, an HBCU member institution. The construction of the 600-seat SPC Watson Fine Arts Center as a space for such civic events throughout the years as the 23-season San Antonio Symphony in Residence project (1988-2011) and San Antonio Police Department graduation ceremonies (2016-present) was part of the Mitchell legacy. In 1987, SPC under the leadership of Mitchell added the SWC, a hub for technical training and degree programs, as a business unit. The campus was part of a former Kelly Air Force Base property that was transformed into the business known as Port San Antonio The SWC is one of the first if not the first college campuses located within a NAFTA Free Trade Zone, and today boasts the city’s largest rooftop solar energy installation as a lab for study in the field. Many programs at SPC-SWC have traditionally been unique as the only available in the South Texas region, and now range from construction and aviation technology in Mitchell’s era to advanced manufacturing and alternative energy in the modern era.

The definitive document on the SPC tenure of Dr. Stephen Robert Mitchell is the reference book St. Philip's College: A Point of Pride on San Antonio's Eastside by author Marie Pannell Thurston. (Archival image by SPC)