Former Faculty Spotlight: Rusty Mitchell

Rusty Mitchell
Rusty Mitchell

Business instructor loved his time at Inver Hills

Rusty Mitchell, 70, began teaching at Inver Hills Community College in 1979. Rusty taught small business management and marketing courses, retiring 32 years later in 2012.

Rusty was earning his Masters in Education (M.E.D.) at the University of Minnesota when he met Tom Faranda, business faculty at Inver Hills, who recommended that he apply for a job opening in retail operations at the college. Rusty was able to demonstrate that his M.E.D. dissertation on small business management could be used to start a new program—and his teaching career at Inver was underway.

During his time at Inver Hills, Rusty was very engaged. He launched a Business Booster Club (BBC), which became a seed for a future Alumni Association. Rusty was also instrumental in helping create the Inver Hills Foundation.

Along with former Inver Hills president, Cheryl Frank, Rusty took on the responsibility of mentoring an Inver Hills student for life. His mentee, Liz Evensen, belonged to German Club, BBC and Phi Theta Kappa. Liz went on to have a successful career as a business professional and ski instructor.

“Teaching at Inver Hills was one of the happiest times of my life,” Rusty said. “Now I want to give back to the college by working with alumni and helping support students.”

Rusty’s career before and after Inver…

Rusty earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Social Studies and a B.S. in Economics at Minnesota State University, Mankato (formerly Mankato State University). He was one credit short of earning a B.S. in Business. While at Mankato, he was issued #359 as his draft lottery number. Rusty also worked for a time as a disc jockey at KMSU 89.7 FM radio.

“After college, I went to work for Mitchell Advertising, my dad’s company,” Rusty said. “I was the company’s president, and my job was focused on sales. The work was extremely stressful and my doctor advised me to find a new career.”

After retiring from Inver Hills, Rusty worked as a Twin Cities Highlight tour guide for metroConnections, a job he really enjoyed. Today, he keeps busy working as a courtesy driver for a Toyota dealership. He also helps out recruiting musicians for the Minnesota Brass.

More about Rusty…

Rusty was born in Minneapolis and graduated from Southwest High School in 1968. His wife, Nancy, worked at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. She retired from that job and now runs her own life-care planning business, Mitchell Disability Assessments.

Courtney, 33, their daughter, is an occupational therapist at HCMC; she is also a partner in her mom’s business. Rusty’s stepson Ben, 30, is an elementary school teacher in Farmington, Minnesota. Rusty and Nancy have three grandchildren, Cailey, Ian and Aaron.

Rusty and Nancy raised golden retrievers for years. They have one dog now, Henry, a rescue mutt who looks like a miniature golden.

In his free time, Rusty loves to sail. He owns a 16-foot Hobie Cat catamaran with an Inver Hills logo on the sail. He has sailed on the Great Lakes and in 2020 has plans to sail with his sister, Jenyne, from Florida to the Caribbean Sea on a refurbished 40-foot Motorsailer; Jenyne lives on the island of St. Croix. Rusty is a certified charter captain.

Rusty also enjoys hiking, biking, scuba diving and visiting presidential libraries. He has set a goal to visit all the national parks in the U.S. Rusty and Nancy reside in Lakeville, Minnesota.

Rusty Mitchell Q & A

Rusty Mitchell
Rusty Mitchell

What did you like best about teaching at Inver Hills?
Inver Hills was like a family. I enjoyed giving students a view into the world of business. I’m a storyteller. Teaching at the college was a wonderful experience.

What is one thing every business student should know?
Networking is very important. Find a mentor as well as a sponsor for your business, one with industry experience.

What is your favorite type of business?
Small, family business. I helped move the Minnesota Family Business Council forward.

Where do you see the world of business in 50 years?

Three words that describe you as a college instructor:

What is the most challenging aspect of teaching in general?
Making complex coursework simple, relatable and memorable. Storytelling is a good way to make that happen.

What advice would you give students thinking about launching a career in business?
Get hands-on experience, then learn theory. Form bonds.

What one person do you most admire in the world of business?
My dad, Frank D. Mitchell II

What are the most important attributes of a successful business person?
Believability, communications skills, expertise, follow-through and drive

Three words that best describe your experience at Inver Hills:

Rusty Mitchell 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Swimming and football
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Machu Picchu
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Sailing, downhill skiing, racing cars—I bought a Mazda RX-8 because I like sports cars; I also recommend doing a ride-along at Brainerd International Raceway
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Buy a motor home 2) Travel 3) Create a charitable fund
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: The Big Bang Theory
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: The Art of Racing in the Rain
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: World cruise and mentoring
  8. Your national bird if you could have one: Grouse or pheasant
  9. Dream occupation: Grandpa (Boppa) x 3
  10. Person you would most like to meet: The Obamas and NASA astronauts
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Working with metal, wood and rock
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Global warming/extinction
Learn more about Business and Accounting programs at Inver Hills by contacting:

Hamid Kazeroony, DM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Business Faculty

Admissions Team
College Center

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