Dr. Douglas O. Eason, Mitchell Community College’s President Emeritus, passed away today following a long illness. He was 77.
Eason served as the 22nd president of Mitchell, beginning his tenure in July 1990. He quickly set to work affirming an ambitious vision for improving the college upon his arrival, and over time the College saw remarkable growth in several areas, including enrollment, curriculum and facilities.
“Dr. Eason’s two decade tenure as president transformed Mitchell into one of the premiere community colleges in North Carolina and in the nation,” said Dr. Ralph Bentley, Chair of the Mitchell Community College Board of Trustees, upon Dr. Eason’s retirement in 2012.
As president, Eason worked to reorient the campus around its students, putting them at the core of the institution’s mission. He earned a reputation as a “student’s president,” frequently making time to interact with students across campus.
Dr. Eason kept his focus on the college’s community, too, noting that teachers and colleges should be measured not only by what they do, but also by what they inspire others to do. “Perhaps the most important but unspoken element of our curriculum,” Eason said in his inaugural address, “is the teaching of community to ourselves, to our students, and to the larger world we serve.”
Under Eason’s tenure, enrollment grew substantially, and the physical plant expanded with the addition of three major facilities, as well as remarkable improvements across both Statesville and Mooresville campuses. His leadership was critical to the founding of the Mitchell Community College Endowment for Excellence in 1996, which has grown into a $14 million fund that annually provides resources in support of college priorities. Following his retirement as president, Eason joined the Endowment’s Executive Committee, and became an active community member and advocate for the college.
A native of Selma, Arkansas, Dr. Eason came to Statesville from Columbia State Community College in Tennessee, where he held various faculty and administrative positions. Eason received a B.A. in English from Hendrix College, an M.A. in English from the University of Arkansas, and a Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt University.
“It is poignant to think of the many ways Dr. Eason cultivated, nurtured, and grew this college—and especially its people and its students—in his twenty-two years at the college,” said Dr. Tim Brewer, Mitchell’s President. “His work ensured that this institution will have a bright and successful future for many, many years ahead.”
This story will be updated as plans and arrangements for Dr. Eason’s funeral services are made available.