NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University extends condolences to the family of alumna Dr. Edith Peterson Mitchell, who served on the TSU Board of Trustees from 2017 to 2019. In addition to her distinguished service at TSU, Dr. Mitchell’s legacy resonates through her remarkable achievements in the U.S. Air Force and the healthcare profession.
“Dr. Edith Peterson Mitchell was a close friend and a staunch supporter of TSU,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Dr. Mitchell always made herself available whenever I called upon her to serve in any capacity for the university. She exemplified our institution’s motto of think, work, serve as a trailblazer, civil rights leader, and healthcare advocate. Her family is in our thoughts and prayers.”
Dr. Mitchell’s commitment to making individuals in underserved communities a priority is a testament to the legacy she leaves behind. She was the first woman physician to attain the rank of U.S. Air Force Brigadier General and completed 36 years in the armed forces, earning more than 15 military service medals and ribbons, including the Legion of Merit.
Dr. Mitchell served as the Enterprise Vice President for Cancer Disparities at Jefferson Health’s Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia and as the 116th president of the National Medical Association. She also chaired the advisory board for the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute at TSU. She attended and spoke at each white coat ceremony to encourage and support the program and its scholars. Due to her position at Sidney Kimmel Medical School at Jefferson University, she even made it possible for two TSU scholars to receive admission and support from the institution annually.
Barbara Murrell, chair of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute, has cherished a lifelong friendship with Mitchell since 1965 when she met her as a student at TSU.
“We are devastated to hear of the passing of Dr. Edith Mitchell,” Murrell said. “She was an individual extraordinaire who broke the glass ceiling and opened the pathway in so many ways, always overcoming the barriers set to prevent access for advancement. She was a brilliant woman who was loved and respected.”
Dr. Mitchell received a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from Tennessee State University and her medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond.
Murrell talked about the love and passion Dr. Mitchell had for her alma mater and the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute. “She worked diligently to impact the lives of young deserving students, sharing her expertise, counsel, and influence to advance the Institute Team and Scholars. She will be missed.”
Since she began her journey at Jefferson University in 1995, along with serving as the Enterprise Vice President for Cancer Disparities, Dr. Mitchell was a clinical professor in medicine and medical oncology. During this time, she took on various leadership positions, including the role of director at the Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities and the Associate Director for Diversity Affairs at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. Her dedication to addressing healthcare disparities was evident not only through her administrative roles but also in her hands-on work as a clinical professor, further emphasizing her commitment to advancing healthcare equality.
Throughout her academic medical career, Dr. Mitchell, MD, MACP, FCCP, FRCP (London), prioritized individuals in medically underserved communities, making a lasting impact on the landscape of healthcare equality and access.