St. Catherine University today announced it has named Sandra Mitchell as its first Director of Equity and Inclusion. Mitchell, who brings more than 20 years of experience in strategic equity and inclusion program development for higher education organizations, begins her new role on October 26.
“Sandra stood out among the candidates for this role with her blend of experience and passion for embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion into all aspects of higher-ed operations,” said Patricia Pratt-Cook, senior vice president for human resources, equity, and inclusion at St. Catherine University. “We found in her an intuitive fit for the strategic direction of St. Catherine University, one inspired by the values of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet based on community, spirituality, and social justice. We are thrilled to welcome her to St. Kate’s.”
In her role, Mitchell will lead the University in supporting and advancing a campus culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Mitchell also will help develop and implement a University-wide inclusive excellence plan, and design and implement an equity framework that will be used to guide decisions, practices, and policies for the University as a whole.
St. Catherine University identified “Drive a Culture of Inclusive Excellence” as one of its six strategic priorities in the 2028 strategic plan, Setting Our Sails. This work includes an explicit focus on articulating and developing the essential skills students must possess to succeed in diverse and inclusive workplaces and communities, and defining how the educational program and co-curricular student experience will foster these outcomes. There is also a focus on recruiting and retaining faculty and staff of color through new recruitment strategies, training, and professional development.
“I am excited to be joining St. Catherine University and helping to lead this important work for the University,” said Mitchell. “I strongly believe that students of all ages should be afforded the opportunity to learn about and with faculty, staff, and peers from a variety of backgrounds. St. Kate’s commitment to this shared belief is evident in their mission and strategic plan to ensure students value of being part of a diverse community and leave St. Kate’s prepared to be engaged citizens and leaders.”
Mitchell comes to St. Kate’s from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota. As their intercultural education program specialist, she consulted with academic departments that were developing diversity and inclusion goals, and worked with individual faculty on integrating diversity, inclusion, and social justice in the curriculum. She also serves as an interim director, providing leadership and management for the Office for Diversity and Inclusion while consulting with various departments to create a vision and strategic direction for the college’s diversity and inclusion roadmap.
Mitchell previously served as the first-ever chief diversity officer at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, where she provided leadership to the university’s Women’s Center, American Indian Student Services, Multicultural Programs and Services, and their newly-developed Pride Center. Prior to that, Mitchell was associate vice president for diversity and inclusion at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. In that role, she oversaw policy development and program implementation for the institution’s first strategic plan for diversity.
Mitchell received her Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and Masters (Education) degrees from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. She also holds an educational specialist degree in educational leadership and innovation from the University of Colorado.