Enduring Values
David Mitchell ’63 and Arthur Brown ’63


David Mitchell and Arthur Brown

Their story begins in 1957, when 11-year-old Peddie student David Mitchell heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak at Ayer Memorial Chapel. As one of the few African-American students at the time, David remembered, “Dr. King said you must challenge injustice whenever and wherever it is presented. You must do so with love for your fellow human beings. And you must do so nonviolently.”

In 1959, David and his classmate Arthur Brown became friends. The two forged a bond that has lasted for over 60 years, and in February 2021, it inspired Arthur and his wife, Jo, to build a legacy that will live long beyond them: The Honorable David B. Mitchell ’63 and Diane T. Mitchell Fund for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). 

This endowed fund is the first of its kind at Peddie. It will support ever-evolving opportunities for students and employees to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion, creating impactful and sustainable change on campus and fostering a culture of citizenship, respect and belonging. 

“I think Peddie is a good place to do that because it has done the work,” said David. “It has reexamined itself and come out better on the other side. It has evolved.

While we cannot change the injustices of the world by ourselves, we could make a difference at Peddie. ”  Arthur brown ’63

“Value exists in each of us,” he continued. “Too often, superficial differences cloud our perception of the innate worth we each possess. Peddie’s goal with this gift is to foster a community that welcomes and embraces what each person contributes to making life better for all. The example of a diverse, inclusive experience at Peddie will demonstrate a future that reaches beyond our campus.”

The Browns established the fund “to make note of and call attention to the Mitchells’ lifelong dedication and commitment to seeking social justice for all peoples,” said Arthur. “While we cannot change the injustices of the world by ourselves, we could make a difference at Peddie.”

Peddie students and employees who demonstrate extraordinary leadership will be recognized as Mitchell Fellows. Earning this honor means “you have made an impact,” said Arthur. “It shows other people what Peddie stands for.”

In February 1994, David was invited to give the Founders Day speech at Peddie, and spoke from the same podium as did Dr. King, decades earlier. 

“David’s speech was one of the most moving I have ever heard,” said Arthur. “There was work to be done, and he challenged all of us to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”

Indeed, Peddie’s motto — “As we finish our labors, we begin them anew” — and its focus on Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg ’27’s invocation to “the highest quality of citizenship” commands continual progress towards a diverse community of adults and students, unified by their excitement, curiosity and character. 

Diku Rogers ’12 was named interim director of diversity, equity and inclusion in August 2020, and was installed as permanent director of the program this past March. She welcomes the opportunities for growth that the fund offers.

“A part of uplifting communities, building equity and fostering inclusion is having the means to put commitment into action,” Diku said. “This fund solidifies our dedication to DEI as an institution and will greatly contribute to our community’s social growth. Having the support to sustain our on-campus programming also aids our community in keeping our hearts, eyes and ears open.”

“This is the moment in the life of our nation when we need to demonstrate a community dedicated to respect for our fellow citizens, without regard to whether that person shares our views or perspectives,” said David. “We seek to work for an environment where we respect our differences.”

The story that began over 60 years ago has turned the page to a bold new chapter. “Peddie will be strengthened by staying committed to its most significant asset: a genuine community,” said Arthur. “It’s time to push ourselves further.”