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Michael Barnes

University Co-Op salutes George Mitchell

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The path has not always been smooth for George H. Mitchell.

Yet he surely deserved the fond tributes offered upon his retirement from the University Co-Op during a dinner celebrating the George H. Mitchell Student Awards for Academic Excellence. After all, he labored in the college store field for 49 years, of those, 29 in Austin.

CoOp

Wesley Matingou and Belinda Matingou at University CoOp Mitchell Awards.

Under his leadership, the store swapped cultures, turned profitable, and invested in real estate (smart move). Meanwhile, the Co-Op has given millions back to UT, especially the women’s sports program, an arts student activity center, the Spring Fashion Spectacular and enrichment programs.

He also created three sets of honors — the Hamilton Book Awards for faculty, the Granof Awards in Excellence in Graduate Education for grad students and the undergraduate laurels later named for him.

As he would want it, most of the program focused firmly on the University of Texas students, past and present, at the AT&T Center. Former Grand Prize winners — including playwright John Meyer, biologist Abigail Green Saxena and electrical engineer Brian Harden — returned to express their thanks and to update us on their careers.

As always, the student projects were crazy smart. Take for instance Aydin Zahedivash‘s “Automated Coronary Plaque Characterization and Risk Assessment Using Intravascular Optical Coherence Tomography and Smart Algorithm Approach.”

This, from an undergrad!

The $10,000 Grand Prize winner was Nell McKeown, whose impressively titled thesis was “A Woman’s General; What Should We Fear?”: The Women of Shakespeare’s Histories in Performance.”

Makes my old undergad papers look like kindergarten exercises.

UPDATE: In earlier version of this post, John Meyer’s name was wrong.