Jan 19, 2010 4:43 PM by Greg Boyce
Pueblo native Arnold Mitchem, who serves as President of the Council for Opportunity in Education based in Washington, D.C., will deliver the keynote address at Pueblo Community College's commencement this spring. Graduates of the Pueblo and Fremont campuses will be recognized at the ceremony that will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, April 30, at the Colorado State Fair Events Center.
According to Pueblo Community College, Mitchem, who holds a Ph.D, has been a voice for low-income, first-generation students and individuals with disabilities his entire career. Thanks to his work, the federally funded TRIO Programs, the largest discretionary program in the U.S. Department of Education, have expanded by nearly 400 percent and now serve more than 872,000 students at 1,200 colleges and universities.
"We are honored to have Dr. Mitchem, a Pueblo native and a nationally recognized leader in education, as our commencement speaker this year," said Dr. J. D. Garvin, PCC President. "His dedication to providing support and access to higher education for underserved students fits perfectly with our community mission as a Hispanic-serving institute."
The son of DeV and Archie Mitchem, who are both deceased, Arnold is a 1956 graduate of Pueblo Catholic High School. As a junior there, he gave a glimpse of the future direction of his life by earning an award for an essay he wrote for an "I Speak for Democracy" contest.
He went on to earn an associate's degree at then Pueblo Junior College and a bachelor's degree in history and education in 1965 at Southern Colorado State College before it became Colorado State University-Pueblo. Prior to receiving his Ph.D. in Foundations of Education at Marquette University in 1981, he studied European History as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at the University of Wisconsin.
He began his career on the history faculty at Marquette University in Milwaukee. In 1969, he was named Director of the Educational Opportunity Program at Marquette, serving in that role until 1986, when he relocated to Washington, D.C. to represent low-income and disabled students nationally. He is the first and only President of the Council for Opportunity in Education.
Mitchem has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from eight universities, including St. Louis University; CUNY-Lehman College in New York; DePaul University; and the University of Liverpool, England.
The Council for Opportunity in Education is a nonprofit organization that was established in 1981 to expand college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities throughout the United States. Its focus is to assure that the least advantaged segments of the population have a realistic chance to enter and graduate from a postsecondary institution.