Dennis A. Mitchell
Dennis A. Mitchell has served as Interim Provost of Columbia University since July 1, 2023. As Interim Provost, Mitchell serves as Columbia’s chief academic officer; the Provost’s portfolio includes a broad range of responsibilities to ensure the excellence of academic programs and faculty.
Mitchell is also Executive Vice President for University Life and Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement at Columbia University, roles he has held since 2021, and Professor of Dental Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. Mitchell, who joined the Columbia faculty in 1991, has led student and faculty diversity efforts at the College of Dental Medicine since 2004 and faculty diversity efforts in the Office of the Provost since 2014. He has also played a lead role spearheading university-wide anti-racism efforts.
Research and Public Health Leadership
Mitchell joined the Columbia faculty in 1991 after completing his general dentistry residency training at Harlem Hospital, a Columbia University affiliate. At a time when the HIV/AIDS and crack cocaine epidemics were sweeping New York City, Mitchell advanced research on the oral manifestations of HIV in people of color and women, and also examined a cohort of injecting drug users at Harlem Hospital. A New England Journal of Medicine article about treatment of periodontal disease and the risk of preterm birth, which emerged from his research, has been cited 744 times and received the American Academy of Periodontology Clinical Research Award for the year’s outstanding paper with direct relevance to clinical practice in 2007. Decades later, scholars still cite this groundbreaking work. Committed to improving clinical dental practice in Harlem and upper Manhattan, Interim Provost Mitchell co-created and launched the Community DentCare Network, which provides screenings and dental services to underserved patients regardless of ability to pay. Community DentCare is now responsible for over 20,000 patient visits annually.
Leadership Enhancing Diversity in Health Professions and Academia
In 2004, Dr. Mitchell became the first diversity-focused dean at a U.S. dental school, where he led efforts to increase the proportion of historically underrepresented students in each incoming dental class from 3% to 20%. He also led several student pathways programs designed to diversify the health professions more broadly which received external funding exceeding $15 million. He was Columbia’s Institutional PI for the Minority Dental Faculty Development Program, funded by the ADEA/W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Co-PI for Columbia’s Summer Health Professions Education Program, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and for the CDC-funded Summer Public Health Scholars Program. Together, these programs bring over 125 underrepresented scholars to Columbia annually.
In his role as Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, he oversees the $295 million ongoing commitment to enhance faculty diversity, the creation and enhancement of faculty development and support resources, and programs to develop pathways to the professoriate.
Mitchell is a national leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the academy, and among his many leadership roles, he served on the board of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education from 2018-2023 and is a Founding Executive Committee member of the Faculty Advancement Network. He also served as co-leader of the Columbia University/CUIMC participation in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment.
Mitchell has been widely recognized for his contributions to the fields of public health and dental medicine. Most recently, he was named a Fellow in the American College of Dentists and received the American Dental Education Association Distinguished Service Award in 2022; and in 2021, he was named Fellow in the Academy of Community and Public Health Service at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.