William L. Mitchell Named Director of Stockbridge School at UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. – William L. Mitchell, an alumnus who earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in landscape architecture from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been named the new director of the Stockbridge School at the university.

Mitchell, who has been an associate professor of landscape architecture at the University of Maine since 1975, has also been named the Fred P. Jeffrey Professor, which is supported by an endowment.

Steven D. Goodwin, dean of the College of Natural Resources and the Environment, says Mitchell is an excellent choice to lead the Stockbridge School. “Over the past few years, with the support of Stockbridge School alumni, the college has been able to build an endowment to support the director as part of a campaign we called ‘Stockbridge Forever.’ That endowment allowed us to conduct a national search for a new director this past year, and we are very excited about the selection of Bill Mitchell. Bill has years of experience as the director of the Landscape Horticulture Program at the University of Maine. He has a real feel for the aspirations of our students and for the needs of agriculture and the green industries in New England.”

Mitchell’s initial experience with the Stockbridge School came in the 1970s when he was a graduate student at UMass Amherst in the Landscape Architecture program. Mitchell was recruited by Jack Denison, then-Stockbridge School director, to teach a class in landscape design and construction. He ended up doing so well he went on to receive the professor of the year award. “For a grad student,” he says, “I thought that was kind of neat.”

Mitchell says it was his time at Stockbridge that led him to a career in academia. “That experience in graduate school got me excited. I had a great experience teaching and I had really great students.” he says. After graduating from UMass Amherst with a master’s degree in landscape architecture and site planning in 1975, Mitchell joined the University of Maine. As a professor of landscape architecture, he taught numerous undergraduate courses and later served as the coordinator of the university’s Landscape Horticulture Programs.

Mitchell says his most significant contribution is his relationship with students. “There’s a lot of inspiration that goes unseen when you develop those relationships with the student body,” he said, “A lot of success happens that way.” Citing the importance of online networking to this generation of high school students, Mitchell says he is looking forward to advancing the school’s recruiting methods. “I think we have to take a whole new look at marketing. You have to look at the Web site, and how the Web site sets the tone for the programs and for the school.”

Martha Baker, associate dean of NRE who served as interim Stockbridge director for the past two years and assisted in the candidate selection process, says Mitchell’s experience with curriculum and fundraising as well as his ties with the local New England “green” industry made him an ideal candidate.