Community Relations Officer William “Bill” Mitchell is considered by many students and faculty, including himself, to be the unofficial mayor of campus.
“I’m the Mayor of ETSU,” said Mitchell. “That’s the way I look at it, that’s what it feels like and that’s what a lot of people have called me.”
Mitchell, a native of Fall Branch, Tennessee, began his law enforcement career in El Paso, Texas, in 1993 immediately after leaving the army. He says starting a career in law enforcement was always his goal.
“My dad was a cop, and I just always knew I wanted to do it,” he said. “I think it comes from wanting to help people and helping people who can’t help themselves.”
After serving four years in El Paso, Mitchell returned to Fall Branch and began working with the Johnson City Police Department. After serving 18 years with the JCPD, Mitchell decided it was time to switch to a job with a slower pace.
“I knew everybody over here that worked for ETSU, and they all kept telling me to come over,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell was hired by ETSU in 2012.
“I did patrol here for three years and the Community Relations Officer position opened up, and I told the chief at the time that I believed I’d enjoy that and be good at it,” he said. “He agreed and told me to apply.”
Mitchell got the job and has served as the Community Relations Officer for nearly four years.
As the Community Relations Officer, he moves around campus on a bike or by foot and works to build trust and friendships with the students on campus.
“It’s being there for the kids,” said Mitchell. “It’s being someone they know they can reach out to and talk to.”
Mitchell is a well-known figure on campus, and his popularity is why many have dubbed him the mayor of ETSU. During a normal shift, he can often be found in heavily populated areas of campus such as the Quad and the Marketplace chatting with students. He also attends almost all ETSU events to interact with attendees.
When Mitchell isn’t working as the Community Relations Officer, he can be found working on his 28-acre farm. He also recently purchased a herd of 14 cows and a bull.
While the farm occupies all his time away from campus, Mitchell still dedicates most of his time to his position at ETSU.
“I really enjoy it,” he said. “I love it, and this is where I’ll end my career. I’ve got eight years left until I can retire.”