Lindsey Mower, Layout Editor
Clyde Mitchell, Professor of Business, has been an inspiration to UMF students since he started working here eight years ago. He teaches business and accounting classes that relate to the Outdoor Business Recreation Administration (ORBA) program and has a particular bond with the students here at UMF by cause of his thriving passion for fresh air and adrenaline.
He worked as a professional accountant for five years, he completed his undergraduate in mechanical engineering and is popularly known as the most bad ass professor on campus.
Mitchell’s early years were spent whitewater kayaking down the wild rapids of South Africa, where he grew up. Having also spent some time in Zimbabwe, Mitchell’s eclectic roots grant him with a unique accent that pairs perfectly with his eccentric interests.
“When I was at college I climbed and then hiked and camped. Um, I’m trying to think. It was always really kayaking,” said Mitchell smiling nostalgically. After college, while still in South Africa, he got more involved with whitewater kayak racing, training yearlong for races that sometimes included around 10,000 people. But he “never won the races.”
“I did okay. In the middle of 10,000,” laughed Mitchell with his usual humble grin.
He is more than happy to talk with students about any subject; but especially about subjects that he loves. His eyes lit up while recalling dangerous experiences that he’s encountered while whitewater kayaking. “Twice, I probably should have been dead. But I got lucky both times,” he said.
Sophomore Matt Rolfson and Senior Andy Panagore, two ORBA students at UMF who have Mitchell both as an advisor and as a professor, say that his infectious enthusiasm is not just about his “stoke” for the outdoors, but is also about his love to inspire.
“He is always looking to help out any student who is trying to combine their academic career with their recreation,” said Rolfson, claiming that Mitchell was one of the people responsible for bringing him to Farmington after first meeting him at an accepted students day back in 2011. “In walks this kind of goofy looking guy, ah, missing a little bit of hair on top with short hair everywhere else, and he starts talking in this crazy accent. Just the way that he presented himself to the students, he was like one of our peers, he was very inviting, he was asking a lot of questions to encourage us.”
When Mitchell started working at UMF, he also started up a program linked through the UMF Ski and Outing Club (SOC) for students to learn how to do a basic “roll” in a whitewater kayak. Mitchell said the class is for people who want to learn and who want to get out on the rivers.
Rolfson and Panagore have both attended the class and say it’s the real deal.
“I still am not like a good roller, but I feel like I could save my life now, which is super important,” said Panagore.
You can catch Mitchell in his element one night a week in the Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC) pool, as he says he will continue classes as long as people will come.
At the latest Battleship event in the FRC, which Mitchell actively participated in as a member of the reigning championship team, Jim Toner, Director of the Fitness and Recreation Center, had nothing but positive things to say about him. “Clyde’s a nice guy; he’s awesome. I hear good things about him being an excellent instructor and the students seem to really like him.”
Panagore says that UMF is lucky to have Mitchell as a professor. “The fact of the matter is that UMF made a huge mistake when they got rid of ski industries, and ORBA is really the last lifeblood that it has. I feel like Clyde is the nucleus for that,” said. Panagore. “Whether he knows it or not, it all revolves around what Clyde does.”
Rolfson said in agreeance with Panagore, “Anyone, literally anyone, it doesn’t have to be an ORBA student can go up and talk to him and he will just be very psyched to help them out with their daily activities or just chat. His energy just kind of flows through UMF.”