Dr. Randy Mitchell

The All Together One Award is one of the most esteemed awards at James Madison University. It allows a particular individual’s community of students, colleagues and peers, to recognize them for characteristics such as: building community, inspiring others, demonstrating a caring attitude, being dedicated to learning, and having a commitment to working together. Upon reading the numerous nominations for Dr. Randy Mitchell, Associate Vice President for Student Success Programs, the All Together One selection committee quickly realized that he truly embodied everything it means to receive this award.

In 2008, Dr. Mitchell put forth his vision - his philosophy really - behind the remodeling of the former Rockingham Memorial Hospital building, into the Student Success Center. Dr. Mitchell wanted to create a student-focused community that highlighted the importance of proximity, choice, and chance. He planned to place student services in close proximity in hopes that students, faculty, staff and guests would come to the facility by choice for one service and perhaps find another service there, by chance.

As the Student Success Center was being built, Dr. Mitchell realized that twenty different departments would be moving from all over campus and some of the programs weren’t familiar with the roles and services they and others would be contributing. So he decided to build a community of relationships before they moved into their new spaces. He held monthly meetings for two years where all of the different department heads and staff members attended to get them acquainted with their new neighbors. Even before the building was finished, Dr. Mitchell was creating a space that cultivated community. Upon leading this task of placing 20 different departments under one roof, Dr. Mitchell always had the students at the forefront of his thoughts. His belief is that the student is the most important aspect, and student success is everyone’s job. This allowed him to push the boundaries of learning and create a culture of education with a more dynamic, integrative space for community learning and collaboration to occur. This community learning includes: chairs that can be rearranged to create small and large group seating areas as well as furniture itself that is circularly designed so as to encourage interaction. The classrooms in the Student Success Center contain desks and moveable teaching stations for collaboration purposes as well as wall-to-wall whiteboards and flexible furniture.

According to the students and faculty here at JMU, Dr. Mitchell succeeded in creating the Student Success Center and continues to succeed at making the center a hallmark of the Madison experience. Dr. Mitchell’s enormous contributions to this university by taking Rockingham Memorial Hospital and creating a building of community as the end result isn’t even the greatest part. But rather his vision and philosophy are what will influence JMU for years to come. Many people say that one of the greatest accomplishments in life is to inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they choose to do. Dr. Mitchell has inspired many, to go beyond the typical paradigm, to be better Orientation Peer Advisors, to study to become student affairs professionals, and most importantly, to make a significant contribution to the world. Dr. Mitchell’s leadership style affirms that he is devoted to helping others while inspiring and motivating them to reach their fullest potential.

Success is not a function of the size of your title, but rather the richness of your contribution. Dr. Mitchell you are an unsung hero, and we thank you so much for all the countless hours you spent shaping, creating, and molding your contribution to James Madison University that is modeled on success. You have embodied what it means to build community by empowering others, the process, and empowering the heart. Because of you we are
All Together One.

Brandi Volkers


 


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