Lake Superior State University
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Alum Success

Ben Mitchell

Ben Mitchell
Mechanical Engineering '06

Ben Mitchell grew up in a devout household in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan where emphasis was placed on helping others. He traveled with his father to places such as Kenya and Peru on short-term medical missions. When he was in Kenya, a missionary explained that engineers have the greatest potential to influence the largest number of people. During high school, Ben participated in a youth mission trip to Tijuana. A result of the mission trips, his family decided to adopt three Vietnamese children when he was a junior.

All of these experiences had a great influence on Ben’s outlook on life. He decided to major in mechanical engineering and enrolled at Lake Superior State University. Near the end of his senior year, he decided to volunteer for the Peace Corps to help others.

His two-year commitment began in the fall of 2007 and took Ben to Burkina Faso in western Africa. He resides in the village of Tansila, population 3,000, approximately 10 km from the Mali border. His host organization is the local cotton growers union. It works cooperatively with other villages to improve and expand their production techniques. He serves as an agribusiness advisor as a part of the Small Enterprise Development program which helps create market linkages and assists with the advancement of business skills.

Office of the President

Past Presidents: The Youngblood Years, 2002-2007 Betty J. Youngblood

Under Youngblood’s tenure, the university improved its image and increased its clout in Lansing to the point where it benefited the most or very significantly in a number of funding situations.  In 2007, State Representative Gary McDowell (D-Rudyard) credited Youngblood with much behind-the-scenes effort when he announced that LSSU benefited the most in the 2007 House bill for higher education funding.

LSSU President Betty J. Youngblood retired in September 2007 after five years of service.

The Macomb County, Michigan native came to LSSU in July 2002 from Western Oregon University, where she served as president and also held the rank of professor of political science.  Previously, she was chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Early in her almost 40 year career in higher education, Youngblood taught political science after earning a bachelor of arts in South Asian area studies at Oakland University and a master’s degree in South Asian area studies and a Ph.D. in political science, both from the University of Minnesota.

Her teaching took her to Texas Tech University, the University of West Georgia, and Kennesaw State University (Georgia).  At Kennesaw, she moved into administration and later served as vice president for academic affairs at Wesley College (Delaware) and MacMurray College (Illinois), before serving at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Western Oregon University, and LSSU.

Youngblood inherited very substantial structural deficits in LSSU’s operating and plant budgets.  This situation was further complicated by the loss of significant state funding as Michigan’s economy weakened and the state cut appropriations to all universities on several occasions.  Youngblood and the staff made many difficult and challenging budgetary decisions in order to stabilize and ultimately improve the budgetary situation at LSSU.  The university’s strategic planning activities helped guide these decisions and position the university for stability and growth.   

Under Youngblood’s tenure, the university improved its image and increased its clout in Lansing to the point where it benefited the most or very significantly in a number of funding situations.  In 2007, State Representative Gary McDowell (D-Rudyard) credited Youngblood with much behind-the-scenes effort when he announced that LSSU benefited the most in the 2007 House bill for higher education funding. 

Youngblood consistently made friends for LSSU and very effectively presented the university’s case in Lansing.  She is credited with winning support and securing funding for several LSSU projects in state capital outlay bills.  With the help of former State Representative Scott Shackleton (R-Sault Ste. Marie), Youngblood was successful in securing an additional $4 million for the LSSU Arts Center as well as funds to upgrade the university’s electrical system.

Some milestones during Youngblood’s tenure include:

  • Construction of the $15.3 million Arts Center began in September 2002.  The facility was completed in 2004.  Due to budget constraints, the dedication was delayed until September 2005.  Early performances included the Detroit Symphony and Maya Angelou.
  • National Hockey League star and LSSU alumnus Doug Weight donated $200,000 in 2002 to endow a hockey scholarship.  This donation was the first of many secured during Youngblood’s tenure, as she placed more and more emphasis on securing private support to make up for declining state support.
  • The athletic training education program was accredited in 2004.
  • The Health Care Center was renovated in 2004 to provide more and improved services to students, faculty, staff and the public.
  • A three-year implementation of the administrative software system known as Banner started in 2004.
  • A master’s degree program in curriculum and instruction was added in 2005, representing the first graduate degree since discontinuation of the MBA several years ago.
  • A three-year study of the St. Mary’s River environment began in 2005 with the support of a grant of $715,000 from the United States EPA.
  • Renovations at the Walker Cisler Center included the addition of a café, an improved student union area, and office/studio space for student radio WLSO.
  • A $300,000 private campaign to replace the floor in the Cooper Gymnasium was completed in 2007.
  • The environmental health degree program was accredited in 2007, making it the only accredited undergraduate program in the state.

Highest Awards

Brittany Currie

Second Place
Lake Superior State University

2003 ASME Student Design Contest – Region V

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