In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus James K. Mitchell

James (Jim) K. Mitchell, Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering, passed away on December 17, 2023. He was 93 years old.

Professor Mitchell received his B.S. (1951) degree in Civil Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and his M.S. (1953) and Sc.D. (1956) degrees in Civil (Geotechnical) Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the faculty of U.C. Berkeley in 1958 and held the Edward G. Cahill and John R. Cahill Chair in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at the time of his retirement from Berkeley in 1993. After retiring from Berkeley, Mitchell joined the faculty at Virginia Tech, where he held the rank of University Distinguished Professor until he retired in 1999. He continued to remain active in guiding research, co-teaching courses, and presenting seminars until very recently.

During his career, he supervised the dissertation research of 76 Ph.D. students and authored more than 375 publications. Mitchell was most known for the graduate-level text and geotechnical reference Fundamentals of Soil Behavior, which is widely used by geotechnical engineers around the world. Some of his more recent research projects include the evaluation of seismic stability and design of liquefaction mitigation options for Success Dam and Isabella Dam (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), Folsom Dam (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation), and San Pablo Dam (East Bay Municipal Water District), all in California. He has also served as a member of the Seismic Safety Peer Review Panel for the Bay Area Rapid Transit System and on the ACSE External Review Panel for the Performance Evaluation of Post-Katrina Hurricane and Flood Protection Projects around New Orleans.

In 1976, Mitchell was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Science in 1998, an honor granted to very few Civil Engineers. He was recognized for "leadership in studies of the engineering properties of soils and soil stabilization and their use in design." Mitchell was also awarded the ASCE Norman Medal, H. Bolton Seed Medal, and the Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement from NASA, among many other notable awards. He was inducted into Berkeley CEE's Academy of Distinguished Alumni (ADA) as an honorary member in 2012.

See his website to learn more about his life and his accomplishments in the geotechnical profession.