Dr. Arnold Mitchem


Dr. Arnold L. Mitchem is the president emeritus of the Council for Opportunity in Education and senior scholar for the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. He has been a voice for low income and disabled Americans his entire career. As a result of 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 nearly 850,000 students at more than 1,200 colleges and universities.

Arnold graduated from the University of Southern Colorado in 1965. Before receiving his doctoral degree in foundations of education from Marquette in 1981, he studied European history as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at the University of Wisconsin.

He began his career in Milwaukee as director of the Educational Opportunity Program at Marquette from 1969 to 1986. Prior to serving as director, he was on the history faculty. In 1986 he relocated to Washington, D.C., to represent low-income, first-generation and students with disabilities.

Arnold is a member of the executive committee of the European Access Network; former trustee of the College Board; and past president of the Committee for Education Funding, a Washington-based coalition of national education associations that includes the American Council on Education and Council of Chief State School Officers.

In 1987, Arnold held the Martin Luther King, Jr. – Cesar Chavez – Rosa Parks Professorship at Michigan State University, and he held the Ralph Metcalfe Chair at Marquette in 1996.

Arnold has been awarded honorary doctorates from 11 universities: CUNY-Lehman College; DePaul University; University of Illinois; University of Liverpool in England; Marquette University; Marycrest College; University of Massachusetts–Boston; Lewis University; Saint Joseph University; Saint Louis University; and SUNY Buffalo State.

Marquette’s Arnold L. Mitchem Fellowship Program has been established in his honor to increase the presence of underrepresented groups in the professoriate by supporting doctoral candidates in completing their dissertations.

He is a member of the Marquette University President’s Society, and has served on the University’s board of trustees, since 2008.