Patricia W. Mitchell Trusts makes largest gift in LEAD Scholars program history

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The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan is celebrating a new chapter for its LEAD Scholars program after receiving a $2.5 million gift from the Patricia W. Mitchell Trust — the largest gift in the program’s decade-long history. The endowment will provide transformative support for the futures of underrepresented minority students who are LEAD Scholars.

Patricia And John
John and Patricia Mitchell

This historic endowment for the Alumni Association is part of $15 million in total contributions recently made by the Patricia W. Mitchell Trusts to the University of Michigan. With this gift, the Stephen M. Ross School of Business also received $2.5 million toward its John H. and Patricia W. Mitchell Scholarship fund. In 2019, the Mitchell Trusts announced $10 million in combined gifts to the U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and the Ross School of Business.

The gift, announced by William C. Allen, trustee of the Patricia W. Mitchell Trusts, honors the legacy of Columbia Pictures Television Founder John H. Mitchell, ’39, and his wife, Patricia Mitchell. It will continue their commitment to fostering ethical leadership, equal opportunities, and a diverse landscape within the film and television industry.

The Alumni Association will match the gift and create three funds to support various components of the LEAD Scholars program — scholarship aid, professional development, and community engagement.

  • The John H. and Patricia W. Mitchell LEAD Scholarship Fund will provide support for students in the LEAD Scholars program interested in pursuing a career in entertainment, media, or business.
  • The John H. and Patricia W. Mitchell Diversity Internship Fund will provide undergraduate internship support to LEAD Scholars who are interested in pursuing a career in the entertainment and media industries. The opportunities are meant to expose underrepresented minority students within the LEAD community to all aspects of the entertainment industry, including access to professionals in writing, production, and business operations.
  • The John H. and Patricia W. Mitchell LEAD Scholars Community Fund will provide support for current programming, and new programming focused on better preparing current and future generations of students for leadership roles within the entertainment, media, and business industries. Scholars will have various opportunities to interact with experts and alumni of color within the entertainment industry.

John H. Mitchell was an entertainment industry executive who served as president of Columbia Pictures television division from 1968 to 1977. Under his leadership, more than 100 television programs were produced, including “The Flintstones” and “Bewitched.” He also produced the five-time Emmy-winning movie “Brian’s Song.” Mitchell went on to serve three terms as president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences starting in the early 1980s.

As an incredibly proud alumnus, John Mitchell recognized the powerful role his University of Michigan education played in preparing him for his own successful career in the entertainment industry. Allen says the couple wanted to give that same power to future generations of brilliant and creative minds.

“John and his wife, Patricia, mentored and supported many student interns during and after his time as president of the Television Academy in Hollywood,” says Allen. “They believed strongly in investing in the potential of promising young people like the LEAD Scholars to help them become future leaders in business and the creative industries.”

This gift is groundbreaking for the LEAD Scholars program, which was established in 2008 to support the education of underrepresented minority students who embody leadership, excellence, achievement, and diversity. This $2.5 million supports the cornerstones of LEAD: Scholarship support, social development, career exploration, and the alumni network.

Ayanna McConnell, the Alumni Association’s senior director of university/student engagement and LEAD Scholars, says she is humbled when she thinks of the scholars who will be able to explore and thrive because of the John H. and Patricia W. Mitchell LEAD Scholarship, diversity internship, and community fund.

“Scholarship funding is critical, but enriching a student’s Michigan experience with exposure to alumni leaders from all aspects of the entertainment and media industries is invaluable,” says McConnell. “This is especially true for minority students who historically do not have the same access, networks, and resources to pursue careers in this industry.”

The additional $2.5 million gift to Ross will continue to support the scholarship fund that was created when the 2019 endowment established the Mitchell Program for Business Ethics and Communications at the Ross School of Business. The program, the first of its kind at Ross, is designed to bolster the development of ethical, diverse business leaders.

“Student support is one of the areas of greatest need at Michigan Ross, so we are exceedingly grateful for this additional gift to the John H. and Patricia W. Mitchell Scholarship Fund, which was established at Ross last summer,” said Scott DeRue, the Edward J. Frey Dean at the Ross School of Business. “What’s more, with its focus on supporting a diverse community of students who are committed to ethical business practices and communications excellence, I am confident that the Mitchell Scholarship will help foster generations of ethically-minded business leaders who will make positive impacts in the world.”

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