Mitchell named Union's chief academic officer

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP) -- C. Ben Mitchell, a leading bioethics expert within the Southern Baptist Convention and beyond, has been named as Union University's provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Union President Samuel W. "Dub" Oliver placed Mitchell in the official capacity Aug. 18 after having selected him in an interim role at the Baptist-affiliated university in Jackson, Tenn., in early June.

Oliver said Mitchell brings a background of scholarship, classroom teaching experience and public policy expertise as Union's new chief academic officer.

Mitchell is "an excellent scholar and teacher who embodies our core values and Christ-centered mission at Union," Oliver said. "His leadership during these past two months has advanced our work tremendously, and I am thrilled that he will be a significant part of shaping our work together in the months and years ahead."

Mitchell joined Union's faculty in 2009. He formerly served as the bioethics consultant for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in the mid-1990s, continuing as an ERLC consultant since; associate professor of bioethics and contemporary culture at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois and director of its Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity; co-director for biotechnology policy as a fellow with the Council for Biotechnology Policy in Washington, D.C.; and assistant professor of Christian ethics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

He will continue as editor of Ethics & Medicine: An International Journal of Bioethics and as Union's Graves professor of moral philosophy.

Mitchell holds a doctorate in philosophy with a concentration in medical ethics from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville; a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and a bachelor of science degree from Mississippi State University.

As one of the most respected ethicists in evangelical life, Mitchell has been published and quoted in Baptist Press and in such major news media as the Washington Post, Fox News, National Public Radio and MSNBC. He has given testimonies before panels in the U.S. House of Representatives and other policy groups, including 2012 testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in opposition to the government's abortifacient mandate in the new health care law.

His most recent book, "Ethics & Moral Reasoning: A Student's Guide" (Crossway), was released last year and his co-authored volume, "Christian Bioethics: A Guide for Pastors, Health Care Professionals, and Families" (B&H Publishing Group) with D. Joy Riley, MD, is scheduled for release in December. He was the co-author of "Does God Need Our Help? Cloning, Assisted Suicide, and Other Challenges in Bioethics," "Aging, Death, and the Quest for Immortality" and "Biotechnology and the Human Good" and of chapters in more than two-dozen other books.

A native of Tampa, Fla., Mitchell also has more than a dozen years of pastoral experience in churches in Mississippi, Kentucky, Texas and Tennessee. He and his wife Nancy have been married for 39 years.

"Union University consists of some extraordinary leaders, including our new president, Dub Oliver," Mitchell said. "I am especially grateful to assist Dr. Oliver as we seek to take Union to the next level of excellence as a Great Commandment and Great Commission institution."

Union also has named Tim Ellsworth as associate vice president for university communications. Ellsworth had served Union for nearly a decade in the university communications office as director of media relations but had recently left that position for a full-time faculty role at the university this fall. Ellsworth now assumes a new leadership role in his former office.

Ellsworth is an Illinois native who previously was associate editor of the Illinois Baptist. He is the author of "God in the Whirlwind," a book that recounts the 2008 tornado that struck the Union campus, and co-author of "Pujols: More Than the Game," about Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols. Ellsworth has been sports editor for Baptist Press for several years, covering such events as the Olympics and the Super Bowl. He and his wife Sarah have three children.


Reported by the communications office of Union University. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).