Mitchell Hall opened in 1964 to serve as the home for the Department of Geology and has remained so for more than fifty years. The building is named for Elisha Mitchell, a native of Connecticut and graduate of Yale who was hired in 1818 as chair of mathematics at UNC. Mitchell would remain at Carolina for nearly forty years, serving at various times as bursar, superintendent of property, and acting president. Despite coming from New England, Mitchell joined the practice of enslaving people and, in 1848, published a sermon he gave in defense of slavery, in which he referred to African Americans as a race "of inferior moral and mental endowment." Mitchell was influential in broadly expanding the curriculum in natural sciences at the university. He also made a lasting contribution to the landscape by ordering and supervising the construction of the low stone walls around campus. He is recognized statewide for his efforts to measure the elevation of the mountains in western North Carolina. On one of these visits in 1857, during an attempt to determine the highest peak in the state, Mitchell fell and died. The mountain he was measuring was named Mount Mitchell in his honor.
Date Established: 1964
Date Range: 1964 – Present