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Juniata Chemistry Professor Emeritus to Receive Honorary Degree

(Posted April 30, 2007)

Donald Mitchell, professor emeritus of chemistry and founder of Science in Motion

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Donald Mitchell, professor emeritus of chemistry at Juniata College and founder of the Science in Motion program, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Juniata College, Saturday, May 12 at 2 p.m. during Juniata's 129th commencement ceremony.
The commencement address will be given by Edward Walker, former president of the Middle East Institute and Christian Johnson Professor at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y.
"Don Mitchell's vision for science education has proved to be far-reaching and influential, as evidenced by the expansion of his original idea throughout Pennsylvania and the nearly exact replication of the Juniata model into other states," says Juniata President Thomas R. Kepple Jr.
Mitchell joined the Juniata faculty in 1967 as assistant professor of chemistry and established himself as a teacher and researcher in physical chemistry. He expanded his research and teaching skills by serving as a visiting lecturer in chemical engineering and fuel technology at the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, England in 1976 and 1977 and by taking a sabbatical to work on the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Amherst in Massachusetts.
Certainly Mitchell's most celebrated contribution to Juniata's educational mission is Science in Motion, the chemistry and biology outreach program that brings professional scientific equipment and experiments into more than 25 middle and high schools in central Pennsylvania. The program, which he founded in 1986 with a $530,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, has since been expanded statewide through a consortium of 11 colleges and universities. The program has also been replicated by other states, most notably, Alabama and Delaware. Various states also have implemented the Juniata model for science outreach on a regional scale, most notably California, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.
Mitchell, a native of New Castle, Pa., earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Westminster College in 1960 and went on to earn a doctoral degree in physical chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 1965. Before coming to Juniata, he worked as a research chemist in the lab of Nobel laureate Jerome Karle at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.
At Juniata, Mitchell was promoted to associate professor in 1976 and to full professor in 1982. His teaching has been recognized by the college, which presented him with two prestigious awards. He received the Beachley Distinguished Professor Award in 1986 and received the Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service in 1991.
Mitchell also has been honored numerous times for his academic career and his role in Science in Motion. He received the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Excellence in Education Initiative Award and the Chemical Manufacturers Association Catalyst Award. Most recently, he received the Technology Educator of the Year Award in 2004 from the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania.
He coached the Juniata cross-country team for 16 years, from 1970 to 1986, and also coached the long-distance runners on the track team for 15 years from 1971 to 1986. He helped coach Juniata's track team to an MAC championship in 1983.
Mitchell also remained active in the Huntingdon community during his career, serving for eight years on the Huntingdon Area School Board from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s.

"Don Mitchell's vision for science education has proved to be far-reaching and influential, as evidenced by the expansion of his original idea throughout Pennsylvania and the nearly exact replication of the Juniata model into other states."


Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.