Kirsch to retire as Schreyer Honors College's associate dean for student affairs

June 13, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Michele “Mitch” Kirsch, associate dean for student affairs in the Schreyer Honors College, will leave her position on June 30 after more than 20 years of administrative roles within the University.

Schreyer Honors College Associate Dean for Student Affairs Mitch Kirsch

Schreyer Honors College Associate Dean for Student Affairs Michele "Mitch" Kirsch will retire June 30 after more than 20 years at Penn State. 

IMAGE: Pat Little

Kirsch joined the Honors College in August 2005 as director of administrative operations and became an associate dean in 2013. 

"Mitch has been an outstanding member of the Schreyer Honors College staff for 14 years,” said Schreyer Honors College Dean Peggy A. Johnson. “She has worked with all five deans, from the founding dean to the present. She has poured her heart and soul into the college and seems to never lose enthusiasm for working with the students. Her historical knowledge and contributions will be missed. We wish her all the best and happiness in her retirement."

Kirsch was the MBA admissions director for the Smeal College of Business from 2002 to 2005. She also served as assistant director for admissions and customer services at Penn State.

Prior to that, Kirsch was director of MBA admissions and financial aid at Indiana University-Bloomington, and the scholarship coordinator at the University of California at Berkeley.

“If I were to ask my colleagues in Student Affairs to name a few folks working at Penn State outside of Student Affairs with whom they have partnered most on behalf of students, a great many of them would quickly name Mitch,” said Penn State Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims. “Mitch’s reputation for student-centeredness, for consistent care and consideration and thoughtfulness in her work on behalf of students, and for warmth and collegiality is well known among students, their families, and those with whom she has worked all these years.

"She and her husband, Rod, were among the first to welcome my family and me to Penn State 11 years ago, so I observed firsthand early on the goodness in Mitch. The heart behind the extraordinary experience the Honors College offers to its students has long been centered around her. Mitch’s legacy is found in the culture of attentiveness and support found there. She will be missed.”

Kirsch helped create the Schreyer Honors College Alumni Admissions Interview Program, which gives prospective students the chance to meet with graduates of the Honors College during the application process. She strived to help the college fulfill its three-part mission of helping its scholars achieve academic excellence, develop a global perspective, and create opportunities for leadership and civic engagement.

“It’s a living mission every single day, and it’s different for every student, because of the way they create it for themselves,” Kirsch said. “It’s been an honor to be a part of this transformative process.”

Kirsch and her husband, former Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Rodney P. Kirsch, have been longtime and stalwart supporters of the University. They have endowed the Vice President for Development Staff Excellence Award; established the Kirsch/Stipanovich Trustee Scholarship; funded the Prairie Patch at the Children’s Garden in the Penn State Arboretum; and provided seed money to help create the first embedded counselor position for the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services.

The mental health and well-being of students has been a major priority for Kirsch during her time as associate dean for student affairs. In honor of her service to the college, it has established the Dr. Michele "Mitch" Kirsch Fund in Support of Mental Health Initiatives in the Schreyer Honors College.

“Being exposed to all of our students and everything that they’ve had to deal with has opened the doors for me that we just need to be supporting this and figuring out ways to be proactive with our students,” Kirsch said. “Even though they’re smart, they still have challenges.”

Kirsch received her bachelor of arts degree in history from Westminster College, her master of science degree in college student personnel services and counseling from Indiana University-Bloomington, and her doctoral degree in higher education from Drake University.

About the Schreyer Honors College

The Schreyer Honors College promotes academic excellence with integrity, the building of a global perspective, and creation of opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. Schreyer Honors Scholars total more than 2,000 students at University Park and 20 Commonwealth Campuses and represent 38 states and 26 countries. More than 14,000 Scholars have graduated with honors from Penn State since 1979.


Last Updated September 12, 2019