March 9, 2006
Contact: Keith Ayers, USA Office of Public Relations, (251) 460-6211

$22 Million Mitchell Gift to Cancer Institute Kicks Off USA Campaign

Abraham Mitchell

MOBILE – A Mobile family has made a $22 million gift to the University of South Alabama to support USA’s Cancer Research Institute and kick off a $75 million comprehensive fund-raising campaign for the University.

This latest gift to USA from brothers Abraham and Mayer Mitchell and Mayer’s wife, Arlene, combined with the family’s previous support, represent the greatest amount of philanthropy by one family to a single public University in the state’s history.

The Mitchells have given more than $36.6 million to USA, and have made numerous additional gifts to educational, civic, and charitable causes.

The USA Board of Trustees voted to rename the USA Cancer Research Institute the “Mitchell Cancer Institute” in honor of the donors.

A $40 million building to house the Institute is currently under construction on a site between USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital and Mobile Infirmary Medical Center, which last year entered an alliance with USA to develop the regional cancer treatment and research center. The Institute already is seeing patients and conducting research, with operations moving to the new facility late next year.

“The Mitchell name has become synonymous with generous support of education, health care and other important causes in the Mobile community and far beyond,” said USA President Gordon Moulton. “This latest gift will assist the University immensely in achieving its goals of preventing, treating and curing cancer, as well as educating future health care professionals.

Mitchell family giving has touched all aspects of the University of South Alabama. The family has endowed the Mitchell College of Business; helped fund the Mitchell Center arena; provided substantial faculty and student support, especially in business and medicine; and funded numerous athletic enhancements. The Abraham Mitchell Scholarship Program is USA’s largest privately funded academic scholarship program.

Arlene and Mayer Mitchell

Natives of Mobile, the Mitchell brothers in the 1950s formed a family partnership that became a highly successful residential and commercial real estate business throughout the Southeast. They sold their firm in the mid-1980s and it continues to thrive today. Since retirement, the Mitchell brothers have worked full time to manage their investments and philanthropy.

Abraham Mitchell said the gift was motivated by the family’s devotion to the University and its educational and health care efforts. “The Cancer Research Institute gave us a unique opportunity to participate in something that will do good for all of this community,” he said. “We’ll have a genuine research effort that can make all kinds of discoveries.”

Arlene Mitchell said the commitment to the cancer institute was the fulfillment of a decades-long dream the family had since Mayer Mitchell survived cancer after traveling out of town for treatment.

“We’re very devoted to the Universit. Because (Mayer) has been a victim of cancer and a survivor of five different types of cancer, we felt very strongly that this is where we’d like to devote this particular gift,” she said. “To be able to stay in Mobile or close to home and have the state-of-the-art medical service I think, will be a tremendous help.”

In addition to his giving, cancer survivor Mayer Mitchell has served on the USA Board of Trustees for more than 31 years, including a term as chairman.

“Cancer has afflicted our family, and to be able to help develop an institution here in Mobile to serve the metropolitan Mobile area for people who are less fortunate then we are, who could not go places for treatment, that’s the inspiration,” he said. “I think it will mean a lot for families. People can get the best possible treatment for deadly diseases like cancer right here in Mobile, Alabama, without the burden, stress and strain of having to leave their communities to seek that out.”

This latest Mitchell gift kicks off the public phase of “Campaign USA,” the University’s first comprehensive campaign. The institution has set a goal of $75 million over the next three years that will benefit all areas of the institution.

“Through teaching, research, outreach and health care, the University of South Alabama has forever improved the quality of life for the Gulf Coast region and beyond,” said Moulton. “The University has helped lead to a higher standard of education, better health care, an enhanced economy, and richer art, cultural and entertainment opportunities for all people.”

“Through Campaign USA, we will depend on the generous assistance of alumni, friends and supporters to further strengthen our position of leadership.”

“Of the University of South Alabama’s many contributions to society, none has been more important and profound than improving the lives of our individual citizens,” said James A. Yance, a USA alumnus and Mobile attorney who is leading the campaign’s volunteers.

“Any investment toward enhancing USA’s leadership will pay substantial dividends and lead to the betterment of our community.”

Since its founding in 1963, the University of South Alabama has been one of Alabama’s fastest growing universities, currently enrolling more than 13,300 students in a wide range of academic programs in Allied Health Professions, Arts and Sciences, Mitchell College of Business, Computer and Information Sciences, Continuing Education and Special Programs, Education, Engineering, Medicine, and Nursing. The University has awarded more than 56,000 degrees.

In addition to teaching and research, USA is one of the largest health care providers in the Mobile region, with its faculty physicians and two hospitals – Children’s and Women’s and USA Medical Center – involved in more than a quarter million patient encounters annually.

Begun in 2000, USA’s Mitchell Cancer Institute was created to provide the upper Gulf Coast region with comprehensive cancer education, prevention and treatment services in an academic research setting. Primary objectives include developing innovative new treatments and becoming a National Cancer Institute designated research center. With these latest gifts, the Institute has received more than $125 million in public and private funds, including assistance from Mobile City, Mobiel County, federal and state support, USA Foundation and private giving.

For more information about USA’s Mitchell Cancer Institute, call (251) 460-6993 or go to

For information on Campaign USA, go to or call (251)460-7032.


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