“I'm proud to say that Wittenberg has been able to progress and yet at the same time maintain its unique, quaint qualities that make it a special university, a special place to develop.”
Although the Wittenberg University motto reads "having light, we pass it on to others," Fred Mitchell, class of 1969, has gone further by not only sharing his light, but by helping others to "pass it on" as a journalist and author.
Mitchell recently completed Billy Williams: My Sweet-Swinging Lifetime With The Cubs, an autobiography he helped write with Williams, the Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs slugger, and Sayers: My Life and Times, the autobiography of Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers.
"That was a tremendous honor, to be chosen to write [Sayers'] autobiography, one of the greatest running backs of all time," Mitchell said. "We're doing a lot of book signings around the Chicago area, and having a lot of fun with that."
Mitchell has made a specialty of passing his light on to others as both an accomplished author with nine titles to his credit and as a sportswriter with one of America's iconic newspapers, the Chicago Tribune. The All-American Football Foundation named him "Outstanding Sportswriter of the Year" in 2000.
Positions as editor-in-chief of his high school yearbook and newspaper in Gary, Ind., started Mitchell's prolific career, and Wittenberg proved a receptive venue for his talents. He became sports editor of The Torch student newspaper and The Witt yearbook, all while becoming a record-breaking place-kicker for the Tiger football team.
"It helped build my confidence to know that I could not only play varsity sports but also be the sports editor of The Torch and The Witt yearbook and get involved in a lot of things that perhaps I would not be able to be involved in at a bigger school," Mitchell said.
A 1995 inductee into Wittenberg's Athletics Hall of Honor, Mitchell has not let distance diminish his relationship with Wittenberg. He served on the Alumni Board for nine years and continues to stay in contact, frequently tuning in for Internet broadcasts of Wittenberg football and even keeping tabs on The Torch via its online edition.
Most recently, Mitchell has hosted Wittenberg communication students visiting Chicago with the university's innovative Communication Leaders program, and he was invited to join Wittenberg's prestigious Board of Directors. He will join the board on July 1, 2008.
"I've been out of Wittenberg since 1969 and yet it's part of my being," he said. "I'm constantly extolling the virtues of a Wittenberg education to all of my colleagues and people that I run into.
"I'm proud to say that Wittenberg has been able to progress and yet at the same time maintain its unique, quaint qualities that make it a special university, a special place to develop. I'll always keep Wittenberg close to my heart."
Written by John Strawn '07