Voorhees College President Ronnie Hopkins has named Damara Hightower Mitchell provost and vice president for academic affairs, effective Sept. 1. Hopkins made the announcement at the institution’s opening convocation Sept. 9.
“I am pleased to appoint Dr. Hightower Mitchell as chief academic officer, the highest academic post on campus. During her tenure as interim provost, she has proven her commitment to academic excellence and I am confident she will be exceptionally instrumental in helping to move Voorhees College to that next level of excellence,” Hopkins said.
Hightower Mitchell came to Voorhees in 2020 to establish the Center of Excellence for Educator Preparation and Innovation. The center provides professional learning opportunities and resources for practicing and prospective South Carolina teachers from diverse, nontraditional backgrounds and will prepare them to raise student achievement and eradicate persistent achievement gaps while also addressing systemic inequities in education. Since January, she has served as interim provost.
“I am honored to be named provost and vice president for academic affairs. It is an excellent opportunity for me to combine my passion for education and leadership to create an inclusive and engaging environment for teaching and learning at Voorhees and beyond,” Hightower Mitchell said.
During more than 30 years as an educator, Hightower Mitchell has held a number of management, executive, and senior leadership positions at Richland County School District One, Claflin University, the University of South Carolina-Columbia, and her undergraduate alma mater, Benedict College. She has also served as an education associate for educator preparation at the South Carolina Department of Education holding leadership roles in K-16, state government, and the non-profit sector as a teacher, professor, administrator, and teacher educator.
Hightower Mitchell has served as a founding board member and vice president of engagement and partnerships at the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity, a national non-profit and technical assistance provider for Minority Serving Institutions.
Her scholarship and publications center on educational equity for underserved populations, educator preparation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, African Diaspora Literacy, and the intersectionality of being a mother and educator.
Hightower Mitchell earned a Doctor of Education degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of South Carolina, a master of education degree in educational leadership and supervision K-12 from the University of Southern Mississippi and a bachelor of arts degree in English education from Benedict College. She has studied issues of educational equity internationally as an English as a Second Language teacher for Israeli middle school students in Holon, Israel. She has been an International Perspectives in Higher Education Delegate in Dublin, Galway and Limerick Ireland. She also has been a Fulbright Hays Scholar in Cameroon and Ghana. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and a Founding Board Member of the Chaney Legacy Foundation at St. Andrews Baptist Church.