On September 14, 1938, a group of New London, Connecticut citizens founded New London Junior College as a private, nonprofit, coeducational, two-year college in their community.
The trustees elected Dr. Richard P. Saunders, who had been instrumental in the founding of the college, as its first president. The College opened its doors to the first freshman class on Sept. 18, 1939. There followed three and a half years of development and successful operation. During the fall term of 1942-43, nearly all of our male students entered the armed services, and the United States Army and Coast Guard made urgent demands for the use of our facilities. After a study of the problem, we elected to disband day classes and convert our facilities to war uses.
Ernest Nibbs was elected acting president to succeed President Saunders in December of 1943 and served until March of 1945. Anita L. Simpson, former dean of the College, served as acting president from March, 1945, to February, 1946, when Dr. Tyrus Hillway became president. A special summer session for veterans began in June, 1946, and regular classes resumed in September of that year.
In 1950 the name Mitchell College was officially adopted by the trustees to honor the descendants of the Alfred Mitchell family, principal benefactors of the College since its founding.
Dr. Robert C. Weller began his administration in June of 1951, bringing to the campus a background of educational and industrial experience.
The high quality of Mitchell’s academic program was recognized in 1956 when we were awarded membership in the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Upon his retirement on July 31, 1987, Dr. Weller was succeeded until January, 1990 by Dr. Bruce R. Swinburne, former vice-president for student affairs at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Dr. Joseph V. Medeiros, a member of the English Department for many years and former superintendent of schools in New London succeeded him on an interim basis. In September, 1990, Dr. David A. Sandell, former academic dean at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and Research Project Analyst at Pfizer Inc., was appointed to succeed Dr. Medeiros. Dr. Sandell served until 1994.
Dr. Mary Ellen Jukoski was appointed to the presidency on March 1, 1995 after serving for nine months as Acting President. She had been Dean of the College since 1990.
Under President Jukoski’s leadership, the College offered its first baccalaureate program in the area of Human Development in 1998. The first bachelor’s degrees were conferred to 12 students during the May 2000 commencement exercises. Since that time, six additional four-year degrees have been added to Mitchell College’s programs of study. The College launched Thames Academy, an innovative one-year pre-college/ post-grad certificate program, this year.
Today, Mitchell College is a thriving institution of higher education that grants both associate and baccalaureate degrees to students from the greater New London community, as well as from all over the nation and around the world.