Dennis Mitchell ’97PH, a Columbia professor of dental medicine with decades of experience spearheading campus diversity initiatives, has been appointed executive vice president for university life. In his new position, he will oversee a wide range of programs that will help the University engage with students on issues such as community citizenship, mental health and well-being, inclusion and belonging, sexual respect, and anti-racism.
A clinician and scholar whose academic work has focused on the oral-health needs of underserved populations, Mitchell joined Columbia’s College of Dental Medicine in 1991. He became the school’s dean for diversity and multicultural affairs in 2004 and has been responsible for a nearly sevenfold increase in the percentage of Columbia dental students from underrepresented backgrounds. Since 2014, Mitchell has worked in the Office of the Provost, helping to oversee the University’s $185 million faculty diversity initiative. Under his stewardship, the numbers of women and Black, Latino, and indigenous faculty members at Columbia have steadily increased.
“I know how central the student experience is to everything we do at this university,” says Mitchell, who is continuing to serve as senior vice provost for faculty advancement while EVP. “We wouldn’t be who we are without our students, and I’m committed to making their time at Columbia as rewarding as it can possibly be.”