Retiree Terence Mitchell honored for exceptional community service

Developed in 2012, this award recognizes and publicize the many ways that UW retirees contribute to the UW and to the wider community throughout retirement. The award honors a UW retiree (faculty or staff) or a team of UW retirees dedicated to excellence in community service that exemplifies the University’s values with special distinction.

Terence Mitchell was one of the most prolific researchers in the field of organizational behavior during his 45 years as a professor in the Foster School of Business. And he has not slowed down one bit since he retired.

He continues to publish articles with colleagues and doctoral students. And that is when he is not volunteering for three animal conservation organizations: Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary on Maui, and the Alligator River Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina. At each organization, Mitchell has been a leader, be it as a docent, in helping to create programming for the public or by finding ways to improve the organizations’ operations.

Here’s what Frank Hodge, the Orin & Janet Smith Dean of the Foster School, has to say: “Terry gives a tremendous amount of his time and energy to better the communities in which he lives and visits. He is a role model for those who want to remain active as researchers in retirement while also pursuing other passions (in his case, animal conservation). I can only hope that I find a similar balance when I retire.”

For the past seven years, he has been a volunteer/docent at the Woodland Park Zoo, where he contributes twice the number of hours asked of volunteers. He has given lunchtime presentations on his various animal interactions in Hawaii and North Carolina, helped with the zoo’s research on empathy, and pitched in for events such as Jungle Party, Wildlights and Zoo Tunes.

At the whale sanctuary in Hawaii, he participates in educational outreach, greets visitors and has given lectures on whale and sea turtle behavior. And at the wildlife refuge in North Carolina, Mitchell’s volunteer work has helped shape programming and included lectures on wildlife at the refuge. Says Elizabeth Umphress, a colleague in the Foster School: “His passion for animals is contagious. His interactions with zoo and refuge visitors instills enthusiasm for greater stewardship of our environment, helping to ensure the survival of various species of animals.”

But animals are not the only creatures Mitchell regularly interacts with. He continues to conduct research with UW faculty and graduate students, and since retiring he has published five articles in top journals in his field. He also mentors UW faculty and graduate students. “To this day,” says Stephen Green, ’76, the Basil S. Turner Distinguished professor of Management and Purdue University and one of Mitchell’s first students, “Terry is still the standard by which I judge my performance and contributions. He always inspires me to push myself to do better.”

Although he was not able to continue his volunteer work with these organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, his commitment to volunteer service never waned. When it was clear that he had to put his regular volunteer work on hold, he reached out to the UW Retirement Association to inquire about opportunities to share his academic research background with the organization. He saw an opportunity to share his knowledge with UWRA as part of its retirement transitions curriculum. The University and UW Retirement Association are honored to recognize Mitchell for his community service and continuing excellence as a role model.