Longtime Richland College President Announces Retirement

Share Article

Dr. Stephen K. Mittelstet, president of Richland College, announced on Tuesday to all faculty, staff, students and administrators that he has submitted his letter of resignation to Dr. Wright Lassiter Jr., chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District, signaling his retirement after four decades of service to DCCCD - including 30 years as chief Thunderduck at Richland College. (The Thunderduck is the school's mascot.)

The chief Thunderduck has decided to retire.

Dr. Stephen K. Mittelstet, president of Richland College, announced today to all faculty, staff, students and administrators that he has submitted his letter of resignation to Dr. Wright Lassiter Jr., chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District, signaling his retirement after four decades of service to DCCCD - including 30 years as chief Thunderduck at Richland College. (The Thunderduck is the school's mascot.)

The Richland CEO had spoken earlier about retirement, but he now has decided to follow "doctor's orders" for health reasons and move on to the next phase of his life's journey.

His retirement will take effect immediately after it is approved by the DCCCD board of trustees during its monthly meeting on Oct. 6.

Stating that members of the campus community already have been preparing for an executive change, Mittelstet said in his message to the college: "Thank you, dear friends, for nurturing and honoring me in so many different and deeply meaningful ways all along the many delightful, challenging and enormously rewarding twists and turns of these first four decades of the Richland/DCCCD journey."

Lassiter, who was president of DCCCD's El Centro College for 20 years before he became chancellor, has worked for years with Mittelstet and respects the leadership and accomplishments that comprise his legacy.

"Steve Mittelstet has developed a culture of leadership and caring, based on helping students to learn to build sustainable local and world community, throughout his tenure as president of Richland College. He led long-term efforts to establish and implement service and performance excellence at Richland. As a result, the college won national acclaim when it received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award from the White House and the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2005 - the first and only community college in the United States, to date, that has earned our nation's highest performance excellence honor," said Lassiter. "He is a national and international leader in higher education, especially among community colleges, and he leaves a legacy of servant leadership, compassion and performance excellence that will sustain Richland for decades to come."

Mittelstet, who started his tenure as president of Richland College in 1979, also serves as superintendent of the dual-credit Richland Collegiate High School, the only charter high school on a community college campus in the state of Texas. RCHS recently earned an "exemplary" rating from the Texas Education Agency for the third consecutive year. Additionally, he oversees the new Richland College Garland Campus, which opened earlier this year. And the college was awarded the first Tech Titan of the Future Award from the Metroplex Technology Business Council in 2005 for its engineering program and in 2008 received the award again for RCHS's innovative dual-credit emphasis on mathematics, science and engineering.

The retiring president, who also served as a DCCCD administrator in several areas following his founding role at Richland in 1972 - where he established its continuing education program and served on its humanities faculty, was recognized by the 79th Texas Legislature for more than a quarter of a century of outstanding service as president of Richland College and for his contributions to the educational vitality of the state of Texas. Richland also received the Governor's Texas Award for Performance Excellence (the first accredited higher education institution recognized with that honor) and was named a Vanguard Learning College by the League for Innovation in the Community College - several highly-respected honors among a long list of awards and accomplishments garnered during Mittelstet's tenure as president.

The 65-year-old Thunderduck earned his bachelor's degree in English, French and history/religion/education from McMurry College and his doctorate in higher education administration/English from the University of Texas at Austin. He has completed post-doctoral work at l'Institute de la Valouze, France; Centre d'Etudes Francaises, Institute for American Universities; University of Avignon, France; Centro Linguistico, Costa Rica; and the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communications, Portland State University. He has served on many national, regional and state higher education boards and task forces as well as boards for chambers of commerce, planning and economic development councils, homeless assistance groups and work readiness consortia.

His honors and awards include the O'Banion Prize for National Educational Leadership from the Educational Testing Service and the League for Innovation in the Community College; the Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction from Phi Theta Kappa; the Texas Association for Black Personnel in Higher Education's Community Award for Educational Advancement; the International Leadership Award from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development; and many others.

Building sustainable local and world community has been and continues to be Mittelstet's focus for Richland College and future generations. Lassiter considers his decision to house the Center for Renewal and Wholeness in Higher Education on Richland's campus as an enduring part of his legacy.

"Through Dr. Mittelstet's vision and creativity, the Dallas County Community College District has partnered with the League for Innovation in the Community College to maintain an extraordinary professional development program that prepares individuals to function as expert facilitators," added the chancellor. "The center has prepared facilitators in more than 45 colleges and universities throughout the United States. Their work is informed by the teaching and writing of Parker J. Palmer and others, and it is enhanced by a number of concepts and processes, such as servant leadership, appreciative inquiry, dialogue and relationship-centered care."

Now Mittelstet will build a new world that will enable him to continue the journey with his family of lifelong learning and growth that started many years ago.

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Whitney Rosenbalm

Anitra Cotton
Visit website