Ben Mitchell ’79 Recipient of the 2013 Three Arches Alumni Award at Urbana University

URBANA, Ohio (October 15, 2013) - Urbana University alumnus and board of trustee member, Ben Mitchell ‘79 received the Three Arches Alumni Award during Homecoming 2013. He was selected in recognition for his outstanding achievements in a chosen career field and outstanding commitment and service to community. The Office of Alumni Relations acknowledged his achievements during the Homecoming Brunch and Three Arches Award Ceremony this past Saturday, October 12.

Ben is the Extrusion Coatings Sales & Marketing Manager for AkzoNobel, the largest global paints and coatings company and a major producer of specialty chemicals with headquarters in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Following his studies at Urbana University (Urbana College at the time), where he earned a bachelor of science degree in comprehensive sciences in 1979, he continued his studies in coatings chemistry at the University of Louisville as well as polymer chemistry at the University of Southern Mississippi. Ben served as an R & D technician in the Ceramic Coatings Lab at Ram-Tec and plant manager for agricultural chemicals at Kaiser-Estech.

He first joined Akzo Nobel Coatings, Inc. in 1990 as a lab technician and then promoted to a senior chemist where he formulated high performance coatings for the fenestration industry before he assumed the position of Global Technical Service Manager, Extrusion Coatings in 1997.

From 1999-2002, he was the Fluoropolymer Product Manager for Valspar Corporation before rejoining Akzo Nobel Coatings, Inc. in 2003.

In his current role, he manages the fenestration coatings business for residential and commercial building products including R & D, sales, and marketing for the Americas as well as oversight for the Middle East and Asia Pacific markets.

A member of the American Institute of Architects and the Construction Specification Institute, Ben served on the technical committee of the National Fenestration Ratings Council. He serves as chair, Finishing Task Group for Aluminum Materials, for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association. In this role, he guides the committee in writing coating specifications for window and curtain wall and commercial construction industries. He also serves on the technical committee for the Window and Door Manufacturer Association and is a member of the Glass Association of North America. As a delegate for the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, he attends their global seminars and meetings.

During his lifetime, he has moved twenty-six times, living in four different states and seven different counties in Ohio. Ben has flown over two million miles and been in all of the lower forty-eight states and in thirty-seven different countries.

Ben grew up in the eastern part of Ohio near Zanesville. He was a wrestler in high school and had committed to attend Muskingum, but decided to work for a year before college. It was during this year, that a former high school teammate, now attending Urbana, told Ben how much he liked the college and Coach Lester Baum. Still hanging on to the coach’s phone number, he gave him a call; before long, Ben was a student and wrestler at Urbana.

His love of science began early in his life. By junior high school, he was successfully competing in science fairs. Ben’s high school teacher, Mrs. Kay Ballantine continued to nurture his interest. As a science major, Ben had Dr. Clara Mae Fredericks, well respected professor of biology, as his college advisor.

A story that Ben tells, exemplifies the special bond between faculty and students at UU. During his senior year, he was working full time on second shift in the R & D lab at Chi-Vit, located on the west side of Urbana. One week, because of his late nights at work, he missed two 8 a.m. classes of Dr. Frederick’s. “I was awakened the second morning with a loud knock at the door of my apartment on Water Street. When I opened the door, much to my surprise, I saw Dr. Frederick standing there telling me ‘I had missed her class two days in a row and that was unacceptable. I had better not miss any more that quarter.’ Needless to say, I never missed another class.”

But it was with the excellent education he received at Urbana College and his work experience at Chi-Vit that set him on his successful career path that continues to this day.

When he is not traveling, he enjoys being home in Glenford, Ohio, southeast of Columbus, with his wife, Paula. They have three grown children and six grandchildren ranging in age from 4 months to 6 years. He enjoys golf but doesn’t have the time to play much. But they own a Christmas tree farm with over 3,000 trees that will be the right size to start selling in the next couple of years.

Yet, with all of his travels and precious time with family, Ben still stays connected to Urbana University. He was invited to serve on the Board of Trustees in 2012. Since then, he has participated in strategic planning, alumni relations, and the recent vision session.

Just recently it was announced that Urbana University will offer a master’s of business degree to about twenty employees at AkzoNobel in Columbus. Much of the program will be offered online, but faculty from UU will offer some classes on site. The program is similar to the traditional MBA program, but it is designed to accommodate the hectic schedule of the company’s employees and will use real life situations the company is facing.

This new initiative came about because of Ben’s involvement at UU and his desire to help bring the academic programs to a wider population. He is currently enrolled in the MBA program. The Office of Alumni Relations has presented alumni awards to recognize, honor, and reward outstanding accomplishments and service to the University and the community since 1994. The Awards and Nominations committee meet several times to discuss the processes and to review nominations. The committee members used a matrix system to determine the awards winner. Awards are received throughout the year.  

The Office of Alumni Relations is dedicated to serving the University and its diverse alumni, students, and friends. The office serves more than 7,000 graduates worldwide and provides many programs and services to alumni, the community, and the University. For more information, call 937-484-1282.

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