A New Era for Yale Engineering

A bequest from John W. Mitchell ’60 will support major developments at Yale Engineering. 

John W. Mitchell ’60
John W. Mitchell ’60
John W. Mitchell ’60
John W. Mitchell ’60

When John W. Mitchell ’60 died in September 2022 at the age of 83 following a long career in pharmaceutical manufacturing, he left a bequest to Yale’s endowment that will support the university’s top science and engineering priorities. In gratitude, Yale will name a space in his memory in the new campus planned for Yale Engineering.

“We are so grateful for this bequest, which comes at an incredibly exciting time for us,” says Yale Engineering dean Jeffrey Brock. “John Mitchell received his degree at a time when support for engineering was dwindling at Yale. Today, his gift will help usher in a new era cementing the school as a leader in engineering education and research.”

A suitable space to recognize Mitchell’s generosity will be determined when design drawings for the school’s new and renovated buildings are finalized.

A Pivotal Time for Engineering

Last year, Yale announced its plans to make historical transformations to the School of Engineering & Applied Science, which include the growth of the faculty body by thirty new positions, autonomy in its management structure, and an expanded and revitalized campus in the lower Hillhouse Avenue area.

Construction on the first of these facilities will begin this fall at 19 Hillhouse Avenue, currently a parking lot at the intersection of Trumbull and Hillhouse. A new building will rise on the site, with approximately 43,000 square feet of flexible laboratory space. Robotics for Humanity, a growing, collaborative area of research, will be housed in this new building, which will provide spaces for faculty from multiple disciplines to work alongside one another.

Built-in displays will showcase finished robotics projects, and prominent maker spaces will engage students in engineering research. Designed for innovation and collaboration, the building exemplifies Yale’s larger plan to build on the university’s excellence across engineering and the applied sciences.

A Storied Career

After graduating from Yale College, Mitchell spent the next four decades at Pfizer working his way up from a junior chemistry position to the role of president of Pfizer Global Manufacturing.

Over the course of his career, he led the operation of 81 plants and 36 logistics centers with approximately 35,000 employees in 37 countries.

Longtime friend Don Glascoff ’67 says Mitchell deeply valued his Yale engineering degree and the possibilities it opened for him.

“He was a quiet and austere person, reticent to talk about himself, but he was quite proud of the plant he established in Cork, Ireland,” Glascoff says. “It was economically transformative to the region. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Cork, and he proudly displayed it in his office for years.”

Paying it Forward

Glascoff also recalls how Mitchell felt about supporting students in need. Prior to attending Yale, Mitchell received a full scholarship to attend Northfield Mount Hermon, then Mount Hermon School for Boys. It instilled in him a lifelong respect for the power of education.

“He thrived at Mount Hermon, becoming valedictorian of his class,” Glascoff says. “He never forgot that without that scholarship assistance, he could not have accessed that education, so he deeply valued making it possible for other students to receive an education like he had.”

In 2011, Mitchell endowed a scholarship fund in Yale College, which will continue to support undergraduates in perpetuity.

“Every year, he’d get such nice letters from students at Yale benefiting from his scholarship fund, explaining how much the scholarship assistance meant to them,” Glascoff says. “Once, he received a videotape of one of those students, and I remember helping him play it over and over. It really touched him to know he was making a difference.”

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