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Stanford alumnus Ted Mitchell confirmed as U.S. under secretary of education

Jim Shelton MA/MBA ’93, deputy secretary of education, swears in Ted Mitchell PhD '83 as under secretary of education.
Jim Shelton MA/MBA ’93, deputy secretary of education, swears in Ted Mitchell PhD '83 as under secretary of education.

Stanford alumnus Ted Mitchell confirmed as U.S. under secretary of education

An advocate for education reform, Mitchell led NewSchools Venture Fund and is a former president of the CA State Board of Education.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Ted Mitchell, PhD ’83, the chief executive of the NewSchools Venture Fund, as the top-ranking higher education official in the Department of Education. He was confirmed by unanimous vote on May 8.

As under secretary of education, Mitchell oversees all programs and policies in higher education at the federal level.

President Obama nominated Mitchell to replace Martha Kanter, former chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza College community college district in Los Altos, CA. Kanter, who was appointed under secretary in 2009, announced her resignation from the post in August to return to academia.

A Stanford Graduate School of Education alumnus who graduated from the Social Sciences in Education doctoral program in 1983, Mitchell is a longtime proponent of education reform in California and nationally. He led the NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm that funds charter schools and education technology startups, as its CEO for nine years prior to confirmation. He was also president of the California State Board of Education from 2008 to 2010, and has served on a number of policy commissions, including chairing the Governor’s Committee on Education Excellence and the Commission on Teacher Effectiveness for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

He also has significant higher education experience. Previously, Mitchell held roles as president of Occidental College, vice chancellor for external affairs at UCLA, dean at UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies, and chair of the education department at Dartmouth College.

“Ted Mitchell has worked to foster innovation that benefits all students, especially those in underserved communities, in areas ranging from higher education to teacher preparation to education technology,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a written statement. “His experience as a college president and administrator, as well as his unwavering commitment to equity for every student, makes him uniquely suited for this role.”

Mitchell is charged with implementing President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative, which seeks to “produce the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world by 2020.” Priorities for the Education Department include the development of a new federal rating system to rate colleges and universities, and a proposal to tie federal grants for teacher preparation programs to how well their graduates perform as teachers.

In addition to overseeing higher education, Mitchell also oversees adult, career and technical education; federal student aid; the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; and five White House Initiatives: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Educational Excellence for Hispanics, Educational Excellence for African Americans, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and American Indian and Alaska Native Education. 

Mitchell joins fellow GSE graduate Jim Shelton (MA/MBA ’93) on the Department of Education team guiding President Obama’s education agenda for his second term. Shelton has served as deputy secretary and chief operating officer since May 2013. He worked at NewSchools Venture Fund as a partner from 2002 to 2003 before becoming program director at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Another Stanford graduate, Ericka Miller (PhD ’93 in English), was nominated by President Obama as assistant secretary for postsecondary education in November. She is awaiting full Senate confirmation. 

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