Betsy Mitchell is in her fifth full academic year as the director of athletics, physical education and recreation at Caltech.
The former Olympic gold medalist and world record holder is Caltech’s first full-time female director of athletics and recreation.
Prior to this appointment, Mitchell served as the director of athletics and recreation at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania from 2006 through March 2011. Mitchell has also worked as the swimming and diving head coach at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, instructor in the sports management program at Notre Dame College of Ohio, and director of athletics at Laurel School for Girls in Shaker Heights, Ohio as well as director of athletics at Thomas Worthington High School in Columbus, Ohio.
Mitchell has worked on several higher education leadership committees. She currently serves on the NCAA Division III swimming and diving rules committee and participates on the programming and education committee for the National Association of Collegiate Woman Athletic Administrators. While at Allegheny College she co-chaired the athletic directors group for the North Coast Athletic Conference.
“I am honored by and thrilled for the opportunity to serve the students and community of Caltech through the activities of the department of Athletics, Recreation and Physical Education,” Mitchell said. “There is a long standing history at Caltech of including the physical dimension in the first class education of our students through a physical education graduation requirement as well as intercollegiate athletic competition. Our objective will be to support a variety of members of the Caltech community in engaging their bodies in healthy ways that support their overall pursuit of personal educational excellence.”
Mitchell was a competitive swimmer for over 10 years, earning an Olympic silver medal as a high school athlete by placing second in the 100-meter backstroke, and also winning a gold medal as a member of the 400-meter medley relay in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. She earned another Olympic medal after helping the 400-meter medley relay team to a silver medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. In between Olympic berths, she set the world record in the 200-meter backstroke at the 1986 World Championships. That record stood for five years.
She has been honored with several awards, including being named USA Swimmer of the Year in 1986. She was also a finalist for the Sullivan Award, which honors the top amateur athlete in the country, and was voted the U.S. Olympic Committee Sportswoman of the Year for swimming. In 1999 she was inducted into the international swimming hall of fame.
Mitchell helped the University of Texas to three consecutive Division I Championships in 1986, 1987, and 1988. She was a seven-time individual NCAA Champion in the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes and the 200-yard individual medley, holding the American record for both backstroke events for many years and the world record in the 100-yard event. Named All-American and Academic All-American many times, she also earned the NCAA Most Valuable Swimmer Award, the NCAA Top Six Award, and the Hondo Broderick Award for Swimming.
After completing her swimming career she represented the United States in the World Sculling Championships in 1994. Three years later she successfully summited Mount Kilimanjaro.
Mitchell earned her BS in education from the University of Texas in 1988. She completed her masters of education degree in sports administration in 1991 and went on to earn a certificate of advanced study in education administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education in 1997.