After attending the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Mobile natives and brothers, Abraham and Mayer Mitchell, returned to their hometown to enter the real estate business. In 1958 Abe and Mayer Mitchell founded the Mitchell Company, which would become one of the most successful real estate development firms in the southeastern United States. The Mitchell Company grew rapidly during the 1960s and 1970s, building more than 25,000 single family homes, 20,000 apartment units and 175 shopping centers. The Mitchell brothers sold their interest in the company in 1985 to turn their focus to philanthropic endeavors.
Though not alumni, Abraham, Mayer and Arlene Mitchell endowed the University of South Alabama College of Business in 1999. The college was renamed the Mitchell College of Business to signify their extraordinary contribution to the future of business education. That same year, through the beneficence of Abraham Mitchell, the Mitchell Scholars Program was launched. These competitive scholarships offer extraordinary opportunities for Alabama students to pursue a challenging program of scholarly activities at the University of South Alabama Mitchell College of Business. The Abraham Mitchell Scholars Program is the university’s largest single privately funded scholarship program to date.
The Mitchell family's philanthropy reaches all aspects of the University of South Alabama campus, from business and medicine to athletics. To date, the Mitchell family -- Mayer, Arlene and Abe -- has contributed $108 million to the university. In fact, the Mitchell family holds the distinction as having given more to a single public university than any other family in the history of the state of Alabama. This includes a gift of $22 million to support USA’s cancer research institute, which is providing state-of-the-art care to people of the Gulf Coast region. USA’s trustees named the Mitchell Cancer Institute in the family’s honor in 2006. It also includes a $50 million commitment to the University by Mr. Abraham Mitchell in 2013 as part of the University’s 50th Anniversary celebration. This gift included $25 million as a challenge grant to match gifts to undergraduate scholarship endowments at the University as well as a $25 million deferred commitment to the Mitchell College of Business.
USA’s Mitchell College of Business and Mitchell Center sports arena also bear the family name as testaments to their previous generosity. In honor of the Mitchells’ parents, the Joseph and Rebecca Mitchell Learning Resource Center was opened in 2007 in the Mitchell College of Business to house the business library, a computer lab, financial analysis center and faculty offices.
Mayer Mitchell served on the board of trustees for the University of South Alabama for over 30 years until his death in 2007. Governor Bob Riley appointed Arlene Mitchell to the University of South Alabama board of trustees to fill the vacancy created by the death of her husband.
In 2008 bronze sculptures of Abraham and Mayer Mitchell were unveiled at the east entrance of the Mitchell College of Business. The Mitchell family donated the sculptures, crafted by Mobile artist Casey Downing, in honor of the brothers. The Mitchell family’s generosity and commitment to the Mitchell College of Business are evident through the endowing of scholarships, as well as money donated for the upgrade and construction of facilities. Through their generous contributions, a bright future is in store for the Mitchell College of Business.