P T M — Proactive Transition Management was founded by Peter T. Mitchell, retired president of Albion College, to provide specialized consulting for independent colleges and universities. After a distinguished career including 24 years as a college president at three colleges in three different regions of the country, Dr. Mitchell is applying his academic study in the diffusion and adoption of planned change and his experience in strategic planning and leadership to assist colleges and universities in managing transitions, shaping change, and selecting, coaching and assessing executives. PTM has developed unique models for strategic planning, executive searches, retention, managing transitions, and executive compensation, assessment, and coaching that enhance executive performance and improve institutional response to the demands and expectations of higher education. Dr. Mitchell served as the President of Lake Superior State University (MI) from July 2017 to June 2018 where he was able to combine his expertise as a consultant with his knowledge of implementing change as a college president. PTM consultation PTM consultation takes two forms:
1. Managing transitions and shaping change: Managing leadership transitions and shaping institutional change are the primary responsibility of and the greatest single challenge for colleges and universities. PTM will complete a comprehensive assessment, reviewing all planning documents and conducting focus group interviews with key stakeholders to identify dynamic opportunities unique to each institution. A strategic plan will be designed to guide the organization’s response both to internal changes and to external threats and opportunities (click on Strategic Planning). The plan will serve as the basis for addressing specific problems or for designing and implementing specific projects. Often institutions need help with a specific project such as improving retentioin, increasing minority enrollment, or achieving a lead gift in a focused fundraising initiative. While current staff might be able to accomplish the task, the demands of their jobs prevent them from finding the undivided attention or creativity necessary for success. Likewise, specific problems emerge and organizations need fresh eyes and a dispassionate yet experienced sounding board to solve them (click on Managing Change).
2. Conducting executive searches: With the average presidential or vice presidential tenure less than six years, the most impactful transition in the academy is a change in senior leadership. The PTM Executive Search Model builds relationships of trust among the stakeholders and PTM's expertise in facilitation become the foundation for a successful executive search. As the search consultant, PTM will advise about the search process, develop a comprehensive and compelling Prospectus and ads that will attract a strong pool of candidates, work directly with the search committee in structuring a best-practice search and in screening candidates, use PTM’s network of contacts and other resources to identify potential candidates and cultivate their interest, conduct all reference checks to ensure consistency, negotiate a contract with the candidate selected by the trustees, consult with the president-elect or vice president-elect during the transition of leadership period between appointment and arrival, and mentor the new executive during the first three months. The value-added qualities of the PTM search process are its institutional assessment and strategic plan at the front end and its ongoing consulting with the incoming executive during the transition of leadership and for the first three months or her/his first term of office at the back end. In 2018, PTM expanded its Executive Search service to Electric Energy company CEO positions with the very successful search for the President and CEO of Cloverland Electric Cooperative in Michigan (click on Executive Search).
References for PTM
I am pleased to write this letter of reference for Dr. Peter T. Mitchell and Proactive Transition Management (PTM). Dr. Mitchell conducted two major searches for Lake Superior State University (LSSU) during the 2017-18 year – president and provost. Peter did an exceptional job with both searches and sequenced them in such a way that the new president was able to make the final decision on his provost.
LSSU lost its 48 year-old president unexpectedly in May 2017. The Board hired Dr. Mitchell to be president on July 1, 2018 to serve for one year. Our enrollment has been declining for two decades from 3,400 to 2,000; the campus community was devastated by the tragic death of its president, a fundraising initiative to secure $3 million as a match for a new Center for Freshwater Research and Education was stalled, a budget deficit was projected, and the morale and trust on campus were dismal.
Dr. Mitchell’s experience of 24 years as a very successful college president and ten years consulting in strategic planning, enrollment, and fundraising was the ideal antidote for the sense of doom and gloom. His upbeat and optimistic style, ability to listen carefully to all major stakeholders, strategic thinking, and genuine affection for students, faculty, staff and alumni created positive momentum.
Due to budget constraints and other factors, the Board asked Peter to conduct the search for President. We had an interim provost, and at our request, Peter also accepted the task of leading the search for provost. In both cases, we hired the person who was the top choice of all constituencies of the campus. And in both cases, it was Peter’s extensive work with the two that convinced them to accept their positions with enthusiasm and confidence that they were coming to LSSU at an ideal time in the history of the University.
Having participated in the previous presidential search as a trustee and having in depth knowledge of previous presidential searches as an alumnus, the PTM Executive Search Model is outstanding. Peter began by researching the University through accreditation studies, strategic plans, and enrollment and fundraising data. He held 22 hour-long “Listening Sessions” – several with faculty and staff, but also with students, alumni, LSSU Foundation, trustees, community leaders, and tribal leaders since there is a significant population of Native Americans in the Eastern U.P.
Dr. Mitchell translated the input from the listening sessions into a powerful Prospectus. All the finalists noted in their interview that the Prospectus played an important role in their candidacy. Peter’s collaborative style engaged the search committee in refining the final version and once published had a positive impact on the campus, increasing pride and confidence in the University. All the data review, listening sessions, finalizing the prospectus and advertisement was completed in four weeks.
Over 60 candidates applied. Peter kept in constant contact with the most promising ones and presented 26 individuals with brief summaries of their credentials to the search committee prior to semester break. The search committee identified 16 candidates for reference checks. Peter completed at least two reference checks on all 16 and presented summaries on each the first week of January. The search committee met in mid-January and narrowed the field to eight for video interviews. Peter completed additional reference checks, created the questions, and oversaw the process. Four finalists were selected.
The four campus interviews were inclusive and exhausting – a 2.5 day marathon. Peter created a succinct survey instrument for feedback and collected the data and comments. He shared the results with the Board, which was unanimous in its choice of Dr. Rodney Hanley. Because Dr. Hanley was a finalist in at least three other searches, Peter was tasked with working on a final contract. In this capacity, he was remarkable. He articulated the reasons Dr. Hanley should accept and responded to all questions and concerns. Dr. Hanley made his decision knowing all the challenges and opportunities. Finally, Dr. Mitchell worked diligently to prepare the campus for Dr. Hanley and to prepare Dr. Hanley for a smooth transition, including developing a “First 100 Days Plan.”
The search for provost was handled in the same manner, working in collaboration with the Provost Search Committee and President-Elect Hanley. Ten listening sessions focused on the academic leadership needs and expectations; the prospectus crystalized the challenges and opportunities; the video interviews and campus interviews were professional and insightful, leading to selecting and hiring the one candidate who was rated significantly higher than the other two finalists. Again, Peter negotiated the contract and prepared the campus for a smooth transition.
I have purposely taken time to describe the entire process because the PTM Executive Search model and particularly the attention to detail by Dr. Mitchell is truly outstanding. Not only did he help us find an exceptional new president and provost, the search process improved morale and trust across campus. Unlike large firms using traditional cookie cutter approaches, Peter engaged all constituencies in the process, sent frequent updates, and built trust; the result is great excitement and optimism about our new president and provost and the future of Laker Superior State University.
Finally, Peter completed this comprehensive presidential search while also negotiating faculty and staff union contracts, reorganizing the enrollment program and staff resulting in an anticipated 30%+ increase over prior year, successfully lobbying for the key scholarship initiatives with the State Legislature, securing the funding and governmental approval for the $13 million Center for Freshwater Research and Education Capital Outlay Project, recruiting key administrative positions (Athletic Director, VP Enrollment, Director of Admissions, Dean of Students, and HR Director) and laying the groundwork for the first balanced budget in a number of years. Dr. Mitchell’s work ethic and commitment to excellence in everything he does are exemplary.
Dr. Peter Mitchell has my enthusiastic endorsement to conduct a presidential or provost search. I believe no one could do as well in terms of thorough preparation, extensive research, enthusiastic engagement of all constituencies, professional screening and interviewing, and most important helping to negotiate the contract and working diligently to ensure a smooth transition in leadership.
Rodney M. Nelson, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Lake Superior State University
Cloverland Electric Cooperative in Sault Ste. Marie, MI hired Dr. Mitchell to serve as executive search consultant for our new President and CEO. We chose him because his model for executive searches emphasizes conducting one search at a time and immersing himself in the culture or ethos of the organization. He not only lived up to his model, but was literally available weekends and evenings to guide us through the process. He exceeded all expectations and candidly, his work was nothing short of remarkable. We hired an excellent new CEO, who is the perfect fit for the needs and expectations – short and long term – at Cloverland.
Dr. Mitchell started by reading everything about Cloverland, then spent three days in town conducting “Listening Sessions” with multiple groups of staff, community leaders, major accounts, and the Board. He gleaned keen insight into the strengths, challenges, opportunities, and even dreams of all major stakeholders. He translated these insights into a Search Prospectus that presented the CEO position in an honest and very positive manner. The summary of the listening sessions provides the new CEO an in-depth understanding of the ethos or culture of Cloverland that will prove invaluable. Equally important, the summary showed where the staff and the Board can improve their performance.
The combination of effective advertising, letters and emails to IOU, municipal, and cooperative energy organizations in the Midwest, and his network of contacts produced a strong pool of candidates. Peter talked extensively to the top eight candidates and helped the Board narrow the field to three finalists. After the interviews on site, the Board felt any of the three would have done a good job. To narrow the choice Dr. Mitchell developed a strategy to assess their strategic planning and executive leadership skills. The result was an enthusiastic and unanimous choice.
The unanimous choice is significant because Cloverland’s Board has been divided for several years. Dr. Mitchell highlighted the need for rising above past issues and uniting as a Board to move Cloverland forward into a much better future. Peter took the time to get to know each Board member and was able to draw upon our best instincts and passion for the Cooperative.
What separates Proactive Transition Management from other search consults we have worked with is the careful attention to detail, the comprehensiveness, the creativity, and the sensitivity to the ethos of the organization. Dr. Mitchell makes all the reference calls, and with the finalists additional calls. He has a knack for understanding what people say and the meaning behind the word both with references and candidates. He uses his creativity to make adjustments in the search strategy, as he did with the finalists. Best of all, he really understands the situation, the people, and the organization. He discerned what is special, and challenging, about Cloverland and was able to reinforce it for the staff, Board and community. But also reinforced it for the candidates, so that all three finalists were very excited about the prospect of being the next President and CEO.
On behalf of the entire Board of Directors of Cloverland Electric Cooperative, I offer our highest possible recommendation for Proactive Transition Management and Dr. Peter Mitchell as an outstanding executive search consultant. If you wish to discuss hiring Peter, please feel free to contact me at (231) 420-0462.
Jason St. Onge, Chair, Board of Directors, Cloverland Electric Cooperative
It is with appreciation and respect that I offer my recommendation for Peter Mitchell and Proactive Transition Management (PTM). Dr. Mitchell has worked with Wingate University for the past eight years, seven of which have been annual contracts whereby Peter provides twelve days of consultation on a variety of projects. Perhaps the best summary I can offer is that PTM’s tagline – “Aligning Expertise with Ethos” is an excellent description of the type and quality of Peter’s work. He has a knack for understanding the ethos of an institution, and then applying his experience and expertise to strategic planning, problem solving, assessing current challenges, identifying new programs, managing enrollment, and branding.
The list of projects in chronological order over the past eight years shows the breadth and depth of Peter’s expertise and the importance of the tasks or projects he was asked to deliver:
Develop a process to assess presidential and vice presidential compensation that fulfilled new IRS guidelines requiring Boards of Trustees to establish a clear and documented process for making decisions about executive compensation. (2008 and updated annually with a written assessment conforming to IRS 990 regulations)
Design a “pay for performance” bonus structure for the president (Dr. Jerry McGee) with specific goals in enrollment, fundraising, finance and budgeting, and leadership areas such as governance, strategic planning, and community development (2008 and updated annually). Dr. McGee’s base pay was frozen for the remainder of his tenure and all increases in compensation were in the form of bonuses tied to performance indicators.
Develop a financial model. (2009 with periodic updates through 2014 and review of and recommendations for the new financial model developed in 2016)
Develop a strategic plan — The Wingate Advantage. (2009 and 2010)
Guide implementation of the strategic plan. (2010, 2011, 2012)
Develop a process for evaluating academic departments resulting in the “Mitchell Plan” that eliminated six majors and four minors thereby enabling Wingate to focus on the best academic programs which played a valuable role in the 30% increase in enrollment over the next six years. (2010)
Develop a comprehensive plan to evaluate the president including self-evaluation and assessment of leadership by EAC members. (2011 and annually thereafter)
Develop a succession plan for the president and cabinet (2011) and a transition plan for the retirement of Dr. McGee and the hiring of Dr. Brown.
Design and assist in implementing a comprehensive retention strategy. (initial design 2011 with review and revisions annually thereafter)
Design a strategy for enhancing governance. (bylaws revision in 2010, manual for improved governance in 2013 with update in 2015)
Develop a branding strategy for athletics — Champions in Life. (2013)
Assess challenges and opportunities in graduate and undergraduate education. (2015)
Assist Dr. Brown in his transition as new president by serving as a sounding board on ideas, a resource for information and data, and a mentor in areas such as fundraising. (2015 and 2016)
Review new strategic plan developed by President Brown and offer suggestions for implementation. (2016)
Provide guidance to the EAC on current trends in higher education, suggest opportunities to pursue or challenges to address, and serve as a sounding board for ideas and concerns. (2008-2016).
What the list does not capture is the relationship of trust Peter developed with the Executive Advisory Committee (EAC) of the Board of Trustees, the body that employed him. Wingate’s EAC is comprised of five members and serves like a Compensation and Personnel Committee with the added dimension of being a confidential sounding board for ideas. The members are former and current Board Chairs. Current Vice Chair (and Board Chair Elect), Chuck Howard, had the following to say about Dr. Mitchell: “As a board member, I found Peter's reports to the board to be well thought out and helpful. Peter is articulate and well-versed in Wingate's culture and history. His assistance and methodical approach to problem solving would be of great value to any college or university looking to improve their position in the academic marketplace.”
I personally have had the pleasure of working with Peter in three different roles throughout his consulting relationship – Dean of Enrollment Management, Vice President for Student Life & Enrollment Services, and President.
Peter’s on-going consulting engagement with Wingate University has been foundational to our success in recent years. His strategic planning work with the University’s leadership and our trustees resulted in market-sensitive objectives that have helped define Wingate to prospective students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Peter’s clear understanding of our institutional strengths and of the competitive higher education environment in North Carolina ensured that our strategic plan would produce increased enrollment. Our incoming first-year class has grown by more than 30% over the last four years, and we continue to add graduate and professional programs to meet local needs.
Peter’s knowledge of branding, marketing, and enrollment planning has also been essential in our efforts to attract strong academic students to our athletic programs, to increase campus and community fan attendance at our athletic events, and to seek additional financial support for athletics via our Bulldog Club. His deep understanding of recruitment strategies, financial aid modeling, pricing analysis, and enrollment management has greatly supported my work and has led to the largest enrollments in Wingate University’s history.
In addition to his efforts in planning and recruitment, Peter has also been instrumental in our work to retain and graduate our students. His engagement with Wingate over the past four years has led to a roadmap for improving student persistence. Peter leveraged institutional data to examine targeted subpopulations in need of group-specific solutions. He led a 30+ faculty/staff retention strategy summit to ensure buy-in from all campus constituencies and to supplement our quantitative analysis with qualitative feedback from the "boots on the ground." Peter has also garnered the support needed from senior administrators and trustees to implement our retention initiatives. Without his advocacy, our good ideas would remain just that ... ideas. Peter’s enthusiasm, expertise, energy, and experience combine in his consulting work to yield powerful and positive results – just what colleges and universities need most in these challenging times.
Finally, as a first-time president, Peter provided wise counsel and served as a confidante on delicate issues during my first year. He was always available, literally day and night, and provided candid and thoughtful advice to me and to the EAC as well.
In conclusion, Dr. Mitchell has my highest recommendation, knowing that the president and trustee leadership who hire Peter will be well-served by his consulting skills and interpersonal relationship.
Rhett Brown, President, Wingate University (NC)
We offer an enthusiastic endorsement of Dr. Peter Mitchell as a search consultant. As a board of trustees we were extremely delighted with the process and results of our Presidential Search conducted under the leadership of Peter. We engaged Dr. Mitchell with the understanding that we were under a compressed time schedule and hoped to avoid hiring an interim president. Peter was confident we could achieve our goal without compromising the quality of the results and his efforts were herculean in the pursuit of that goal.
From his first meeting with the search committee, through three days of listening sessions, to the creation of an excellent Prospectus – all within two weeks of his signing a contract – Peter’s expertise, interpersonal skills, and grasp of the ethos of Thiel were exceptional. He did all the reference checks to ensure continuity and comprehensiveness, developed a strategy and form for evaluating the top candidates and guided the search committee through the airport interviews. In short, Peter shepherded the search process with careful attention to detail, but also sensitivity to the search committee members, the Thiel community and the candidates.
The board was impressed with the outstanding quality of the candidates that Dr. Mitchell brought forth through the search and with the very reasonable fee structure he offered. During the search he aided in conducting extensive interviews with each candidate who had been selected for confidential airport interviews. He assisted us in determination of whether candidates would fit our compensation guidelines and did extensive interviews with the references of each finalist candidate.
Once the search committee narrowed the candidates to the finalists to be presented to the board, he was available to assist in the process and was always available for consultation. After the board made their final selection of the president-elect Peter was invaluable during the contract negotiations and that process went very smoothly.
At the end Peter was still there to offer input to assist in scripting the announcement and other communications regarding the presentation of our new president. His guidance through that process was invaluable. He sees his role as continuing on during the transition of the new president into their new role and provided a substantial amount of consultation time into his contract to aid in that process. He was still available to the new president, outgoing president, and board chair for any questions or advice, having served three college presidencies himself during his career.
What I was most impressed with about Peter throughout this process was that he was 100% devoted to our institution and the ultimate outcome. He concentrates on one major search at a
time and therefore devotes all of his energy to that project. He was with us and available to us during the entire process. He sees his role as not just finding a candidate but also in assisting in their transition into their new role.
Dr. Mitchell’s professional demeanor, his decades of higher education leadership and experience, his wide geographic institutional reach and relationships, and his dedication to seeing a search process through from inception, organization, presentation, and completion make him a very good choice to lead the process. I would be delighted to speak with representatives from any institution who needed more reference information and can be reached at (814) 450-3584.
Barry D. Stamm, MD - Chair, Board of Trustees, Thiel College (PA)
This is my enthusiastic recommendation of Peter Mitchell and Proactive Transition Management as a search consultant. My personal experience of working with Peter has occurred during the search for a Vice President – Chief Innovation Executive at the University of Charleston. I knew going into the search that it was a very unusual position and it would not be possible simply to go to a traditional segment of higher education employees in a search among their peers. This was not a search for a provost, a CFO, or an admissions director. Therefore, for the first time I sought out a consultant who could assist me in the process.
From the moment of first contact, Peter Mitchell’s demonstrated interest in the search was clear. He investigated the landscape before submitting his proposal so he could lay out the places where he would advertise and the people he would contact initially. He was ready to go to work the day I gave him the go ahead. He came to campus for three days so he could understand the culture of the institution and to talk to a wide array of campus representatives to understand their perceptions of the position, their desires in the successful candidate, and their willingness to assist in helping the new Vice President be successful.
Based on his visit, his interviews, and the information I provided Peter, he developed a superb position prospectus which showcased the University as well as describing the position itself and the vision for how the new Vice President could be a genuine change agent for the university. What a joy it was to have someone else handle all the paper work and telephone calls. Peter screened the applicants and had multiple phone interviews with some of the most promising candidates. He worked closely with me and followed my preferences while also sharing his candid opinions and insights. He brought to us a superior group of candidates from which we selected those we desired to interview via Skype and those we interviewed on campus. I worked with the search committee independently while Peter provided guidance to me behind the scenes. I did bring Peter into the search committee when we narrowed the list of the candidate to those who would be invited to campus because I wanted him to help with the always delicate issue of dealing with less qualified internal candidates.
Peter Mitchell’s presidential experience makes him a wise counselor. His affable personality creates an open and positive feeling among campus constituencies. His research and homework make him an effective contact for applicants. His honesty and independence allows him to lead the search process quickly and smoothly.
Please know that Peter Mitchell does, indeed, have my highest commendation and recommendation. He works as a wonderful colleague, assistant and adviser. I would be happy to talk with you if there are any additional perspectives I can provide.
Dr. Edwin H. Welch, President, University of Charleston (WV)
I first hired Dr. Peter Mitchell and PTM to develop a strategic plan for a Visionary Leadership Institute (VLI) at Claflin University in 2010. We had been good friends when he was President of Columbia College and that friendship continued during his very successful tenure as President of Albion College. I was familiar with his talent in strategic planning and Peter did an outstanding job of working with all stakeholders at Claflin -- faculty, staff, students, alumni, community leaders, and trustees. The result was a 68-page strategic vision for the VLI that included a comprehensive SWOD Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Dreams), thorough research on leadership institutes at HBCU institutions and other exemplary leadership institutes across the country, a curriculum for the VLI as well as leadership development programming for our student life staff. Because of Dr. Mitchell's collaborative style and engaging personality, there was excitement and ownership across campus for the VLI. Upon completion of the VLI strategy, I hired Peter to translate the strategic vision into an operational plan. Again, Dr. Mitchell engaged a wide cross-section of campus leaders and produced a detailed plan with clear assignment of duties and responsibilities, timetable, and benchmarks to establish the VLI. The implementation plan even included a strategy for fundraising.
Because Dr. Mitchell had engendered such strong credibility and trust on campus, I next hired him to conduct an executive search for a Provost to replace the Vice President for Academic Affairs who had left. Dr. Mitchell did an excellent job of defining the new position of provost and worked exceptionally well with the Search Committee comprised of faculty, administration, staff, students, and alumni. More than just a traditional search, Peter was able to incorporate the ethos or campus culture into the process. Claflin was not just looking for a Chief Academic Officer, we were looking for a person whose leadership style embodied the values and traditions of the University. It is a tribute to Peter's intellect and integrity that he was able to articulate the unique ethos of an HBCU that was emerging as a national leader to the campus community and to the candidates. Another tribute to Dr. Mitchell is that when the three finalists proved adequate but not outstanding, he worked with me to recruit a well-respected Provost who had not applied during the regular process. That individual applied, interviewed, was hired and is doing exceptional work as our Provost.
Most recently, I hired Peter to conduct a search for the first Dean of the Visionary Leadership Institute. Because Peter is viewed with great respect on campus, like a member of the "Claflin Family," he was able to generate enthusiasm about the position. The unparalleled nature of the VLI necessitated a special kind of person to be its first Dean. Dr. Mitchell's aggressive cultivation of diverse candidates produced an eclectic group of finalists. The person hired was the clear favorite and brought his background as a Business School Dean who also taught ethics to Claflin. Peter also provided guidance that was very helpful to our VP for Institutional Advancement in the successful hire of a new development officer.
In all five contracts between PTM and Claflin University, Dr. Mitchell's high energy, professionalism, interpersonal warmth and compassion, intellect, integrity and creativity have resulted in excellent work. Using a consultant for these diverse jobs is unusual, but then Peter is an unusually gifted consultant. The eclectic nature of his experience and expertise enables him to use a synergistic approach to each task and his commitment to the highest standards of performance drives him to excellence in all he does. I will continue to use PTM and Dr. Peter Mitchell for special initiatives or executive searches at Claflin and give him my highest recommendation.
Henry N. Tisdale, President, Claflin University (SC)
“It is with great pleasure that I write this letter of recommendation for Peter Mitchell and Proactive Transition Management. I have known Dr. Mitchell for over a decade and recently hired him at Thiel College to perform a successful Vice President for Academic Affairs Search. Any institution or firm that uses him will benefit from Peter’s exceptional interpersonal skills, decades of leadership experience, high energy, and willingness to provide extra advice and insight.
Throughout the search process at Thiel College, Peter exceeded expectations and went beyond the complex task of filling a key position. Dr. Mitchell added extra value to Thiel College by merging strategic planning with the search so that Thiel was able to address issues of faculty distrust, low morale, and lack of collegiality. The comprehensive SWOT Analysis performed through extensive conversations with virtually every constituent on campus was critical to this process. This created an atmosphere that allowed many faculty, staff, and trustees to turn the page and focus on the future. Six months later, much of the current success we are having with enrollment, fundraising, and campus morale is connected to these key discussions Peter helped facilitate. In short, my many observations and interactions with Peter have provided me with ample evidence to forward my highest recommendation of him.”
Adaptability and responsiveness are two of the strengths of Proactive Transition Management. In our search for a Vice President for Enrollment Management, a strong pool of candidates emerged very early in the process. Peter helped expedite the interviews and fill this critical position months ahead of what a standard search might have taken. In our search for a Vice President for College Advancement, the initial candidate pool was strong but did not contain a match for Thiel College. Rather than settling, Peter encouraged us to re-open the search and six weeks later we were rewarded with great results. Finally, when we were unsuccessful in our in-house attempted to perform a search for a faculty chair in communication studies, Peter was able to quickly step in and lead us to the desired results. Over the past five years, Peter has helped with four key searches at Thiel College and in each case the successful candidate is still with the organization and performing above expectations.
In addition to helping with key executive searches at Thiel College, Peter Mitchell led Thiel College through its sesquicentennial strategic planning process. His collaborative style and decades of experience combined with a genuine passion for higher education and students led to us developing a plan that has significant buy in by all campus constituencies. It’s a plan that is able to be put into action as opposed to being put on a shelf and looked at. I have no doubt the successes we are now seeing are a result of Peter’s ability to connect and assist with the discernment of all campus constituencies. I forward my highest recommendation of Peter Mitchell.
Troy D. VanAken, President, Elmhurst College (IL), formerly president of Thiel College (PA)
Please accept this letter as my endorsement of Dr. Peter Mitchell and his executive coaching services for higher education presidents and related industry executives. I have known and worked with Peter for more than twelve years, first when I was a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania and most recently as the President of Newberry College where he advised me as an executive coach, industry advisor and mentor.
Peter is a man of exceptional breadth in the higher education industry. Having served as a president himself at three institutions and for more than two decades, he also possesses the necessary depth of knowledge in areas such as financial management, fundraising, enrollment management, and board and constituency engagement that are essential attributes to be an advisor or coach to any college or university president.
Peter brings an excellent manner to his advisory services. He has the ability to offer perspective - that comes only with years of executive experience, industry knowledge and professional success - to the most challenging leadership issues in a manner that is always calm, supportive and intertwined with a little humor when appropriate. One of the most important attributes of any executive advisor is accessibility and Peter was and has always been available to me (and his other clients) at a moment’s notice. An industry expert, a systemic thinker and an affirming advisor, Dr. Peter Mitchell has my highest recommendation and gratitude for his consulting and advisory services.
Venard Scott Koerwer, Former President of Newberry College
The Board of Trustees of Wingate University felt that in response to the requirements of new IRS 990 Form, we should assume greater Accountability and Transparency regarding the President’s compensation and the Administration’s responsibilities. We chose PTM as our Consultant based on Dr. Mitchell’s specific experience as a University President for 24 years, his personality, and determination to provide excellence. As we gained a greater appreciation of his skills and integrity, Dr. Mitchell’s role with our Leadership Group of the Board continued to expand. He assisted us in the development of a new 5-Year Contract for the President of Wingate, which serves as a basis of fairness for both the President and the Board. Peter has an uncanny ability to negotiate equitably on behalf of both parties, delineate the elements of importance, and provide written narratives that clearly identify the goals, challenges and opportunities for everyone.
Dr. Mitchell’s experience and tenacity allows him to capture a tremendous amount of knowledge and interpret same in very short period of time. His experience allows him to be concise in determining elements of importance. In a word, he is very effective in what he does. He is an excellent Strategist and has the ability to forecast results of “If – Then” scenarios. Of the three years I have served as Board Chair, I do not think that more has been accomplished than in 2009 primarily because of the skills and input of Dr. Peter Mitchell. Peter provided not only extraordinary value for what we paid, but he also provided additional services above and beyond the Scope of Work and his level of compensation. This is simply another measure of his willingness and determination to seek excellence in any endeavor that he undertakes.”
After performing a Peer Institutional Compensation Analysis of the President, we found that Dr. Mitchell’s extensive experience, insight, and ability to lead were extraordinary and highly effective. We were so pleased with his work that we engaged him to develop a Strategic Vision which would serve to chart the future of Wingate University. The completed Strategic Vision was presented to the Board of Trustees four months later and was unanimously adopted. This is perhaps the most important and substantive document that has been created by the University in my 16 years as a Member of the Board of Trustees.
Like other institutions, Wingate faces significant challenges and many economic threats, considering the current conditions under which we are all living. In my personal opinion, Peter’s efforts have managed the economic threats to the University, while at the same time, positioned the Institution for continued growth and even greater success. Although I think other Consultants could have been effective, I ultimately think Peter’s vast experience in all facets of running a University has been paramount to our success with him.
Dennis E. Yates AIA, Principal, YCH Architects – Chairman, Wingate University Board of Trustees
Peter, thank you for the excellent consulting work that you recently completed for Pfeiffer University. You had a short period of time and a limited budget to make a meaningful determination about our ability to retain students. I particularly appreciated the approach that you took by interviewing different groups of stakeholders and gaining perspectives that might normally be overlooked.
Your focus and dedication resulted in a report that was full of impactful short and long-term solutions that ranged from simple inexpensive changes to complex capital programs. Several of the recommendations were implemented almost before you left campus!
I believe your extensive experience in, and understanding of, higher education was the key to providing valid direction on our issue. You lead this effort with confidence and those that participated felt assured that you accepted their input openly, privately, and without qualification, allowing you to produce consequential solutions.
It was a pleasure working with you and I want to thank you for your leadership and contributions to Pfeiffer University. We look forward to the opportunity to work with you and PTM again soon.
Samuel J. “Chip” Asbury, IV, Chairman, Board of Trustees - Pfeiffer University
Peter, thank you so much for your work for Pfeiffer University. Your presence on campus helped set the stage for some needed changes in attitudes, thoughts, and processes. In each of your group meetings you were professional and offered opportunities for those present to be heard. This set the stage for dialogues outside of the meetings themselves.
The senior administration and trustees were impressed with your style, but more important with your ability to cut to the issues and identify solutions based on your findings. I was impressed with your ability to request the exact information from the institution that you needed in order to reach your conclusions. I know you spent many hours outside of your physical presence on campus “crunching the numbers” in order to provide us meaningful data sets.
Finally, your presentation to the Board of Trustees was excellent. Many expressed the view that it was the best presentation they had had from a consultant. All in all, you gave us more than expected. I will be glad to talk with anyone concerning your work with Pfeiffer.
Dr. Jerry M. Boone, President - Pfeiffer University
It is with pleasure that I write this letter of support on behalf of Dr. Peter T. Mitchell and Proactive Transition Management. Dean College has had the privilege of working with Peter in a variety of roles since 2008. This summer I invited Peter to campus to present a 3 hour Retention Workshop to our Academic Deans and the Retention Work Team. The presentation focused on retention data, trends, roles and responsibilities of all members of the college community, issues and recommendations as it relates to Dean College.
Dr. Mitchell was outstanding in his understanding of retention issues and trends and was able to deliver an informative, eye opening three hour presentation to almost thirty staff members at the College including Academic Affairs, Faculty, Athletics, Student Development, Residence Life, Advising, Facilities, IT and Admissions. Dr. Mitchell combined his knowledge and expertise as a former President of three different institutions, his experience working as a consultant with colleges and universities addressing retention as a major theme in higher education and was able to provide concrete examples and ideas that could be implemented in the short term as well as suggestions for the College long term. The staff respected Dr. Mitchell and took his ideas and recommendations with enthusiasm. He is a very engaging, charismatic presenter that has the ability to get his audience actively involved in the presentation. Dr. Mitchell was also able to read his audience and made everyone feel that their input was valued. At the end of the presentation, it was noted that the attendees were excited and onboard that retention is truly everyone’s job. We received many thank you notes after the presentation from participants from all levels of the organization and many even suggested this presentation be delivered to the entire Dean community.
As a higher education professional with over thirty years of experience working with student success and retention, I can honestly say that Peter was outstanding. Peter is current on the data, research and best practices that I have seen at all the retention conferences and workshops that I have attended. I also think his experience in roles ranging from Director of Admissions through that of College President enhance his credibility with a wide range of audiences. I highly recommend Dr. Mitchell for any college or university that is looking for a professional to work with them to address student success and retention to effect immediate and long term change that will positively impact their institution. From knowledge to delivery, Dr. Mitchell was terrific. He was also extremely easy to work with from initial point of contact through conclusion of presentation.
If you have any questions or need additional information please feel free to contact me at (508)541-1552.
Cindy Kozil, Vice President Enrollment and Retention, Dean College (MA)
Peter is a president's president. He understands our life, our motives, our triumphs and our temptations. He has served three presidencies with distinction and has provided me with invaluable insight on multiple occasions. Early in my first presidency we established a mentoring relationship that helped me avoid many of the common pitfalls that ruin good presidents. I am pleased to see that Peter's retirement from an active presidency is giving him more time to help those of us who will benefit greatly from his wisdom and guidance.
Gayle D. Beebe, President Westmont College (CA) Former President (2000 - 07) Spring Arbor University, MI
As an institution that faced extinction and today is a thriving living and learning environment for 1100 students, we were ready to take a bold approach to fund raising. We hired PTM to conduct a strategic audit and to develop and implement a clear, concise operational plan for our Institutional Advancement Office. Faculty and staff quickly (within weeks) embraced Peter as a member of our community whom they trusted and confided in about institutional needs and the positive and negative attributes of the College culture. Peter has taken us to higher levels of fund raising by developing a realistic plan based on his ability to assess our institutional capability in a remarkably short period of time. His acumen for assessing personalities as well as historical cultural attachments has enabled Peter to develop and begin to implement a strategic fund raising plan that is realistic and bold. As a President of 13 years, Peter has provided me with a renewed sense of optimism and an excitement about what the future holds for Dean College.
Paula M. Rooney, President, Dean College 1995-present
Peter Mitchell knows how to create effective community networks, alliances and partnerships - fostering communication, a common vision and a comprehensive plan for integrated work to achieve that vision. He understands the importance of bringing all people to the table. His history with women's leadership, cultural differences and collaborative learning make him uniquely qualified to mentor others through the complex changes of the 21st century.
Linda B. Salane, Executive Director, The Leadership Institute at Columbia College
I had the opportunity to work closely with Peter during the entire ten years of his presidency at Albion College, and to observe first hand his unique and effective leadership style. As Chair of our President's Council, Peter was consistently able to lead our 13 other presidents to consensus on the often thorny issues we faced. He continues to be admired for his creative approach to solving problems and seizing opportunities and for his demonstrated grasp of the issues that face today's leaders in higher education.
Bill Liebold, Former President – Michigan Colleges Foundation