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University of Missouri-Columbia professor awarded President’s Award for Community Engagement

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John Fougere

April 21, 2015

Award recognizes faculty who are engaged in exemplary community engagement activities

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri System Chief of Staff Zora Mulligan today awarded the seventh of ten UM System President’s Awards to be presented to faculty in 2015 to S. David Mitchell, associate professor of law at the University of Missouri-Columbia. 

Mulligan — accompanied by MU Deputy Provost Ken Dean — surprised Mitchell with the President’s Award for Community Engagement while teaching a class. The award, which includes a $5,000 prize, recognizes faculty who are engaged in exemplary community engagement activities such as volunteerism, service-learning, educational programming and outreach.

Mitchell joined the MU School of Law in 2006 bringing expertise in the area of ex-offenders and their re-entry into society. Much of his community engagement has involved working with this population, as well as with other underprivileged groups, through the Boone County Offender Transition Network and the Boone County Community Partnership where he serves on the board of directors.

“Professor Mitchell takes a broad view of community. He does not see the university and the larger Columbia area as separate entities, viewing them as part of the community writ large.  Similarly, he views the marginalized and underprivileged populations that he serves as part of our community as a whole,” wrote nominator Gary Myers, dean of the MU School of Law.

His community engagement has become even more significant in the wake of the events occurring in Ferguson, Missouri, as he has led discussions with many audiences on these events and, as a result, has been named chair of the Missouri Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Mitchell

Mitchell, right, receives the President's Award for Community Engagement from Zora Mulligan, UM System chief of staff, and Ken Dean, MU deputy provost.

“As the chair, I am tasked with leading a bi-partisan group of citizens appointed initially for two years to investigate and prepare an in-depth report for the commission,” Mitchell said. “The committee will host two public hearings examining the relationship between communities of color and law enforcement and investigating law enforcement’s use of force to determine if it violates the civil rights of Missouri citizens.”

Within the Columbia community, Mitchell established a “Street Law” course for students at Frederick Douglass High School, an alternative public school. Beginning with a pilot program two years ago, he now teaches a 14-week program for at-risk students focused on law and the legal system.

“I cannot find the words to express how inspirational his work at Douglass has been. Dr. Mitchell has high expectations. Our students continue to rise to the challenge,” said nominator Eryca Neville, director of alternative education at Frederick Douglass High School.

The UM System President’s Awards are presented annually to faculty members across the four campuses of the UM System who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university. Mitchell will be formally recognized by UM System President Tim Wolfe during an awards celebration to be held June 25.