Mike Mullen ’87 PhD started in August as the inaugural vice chancellor and dean of NC State’s new Division of Academic and Student Affairs (DASA). The division started in July after a merger of the Division of Student Affairs and the Division of Undergraduate Academic Programs.
Mullen is a soil scientist who had spent the last three years as associate provost for the Division of Undergraduate Education and dean of undergraduate studies at the University of Kentucky. He also was an associate dean there and was an assistant and associate professor at the University of Tennessee. He and his wife, Deborah, have two sons, Casey and Corey.
We sat down with Mullen to get his thoughts on coming back to NC State and his thoughts about the new division.
When you were here, did you ever think you’d come back? Not in an administrative capacity. I never ruled out the faculty opportunities. Clearly at the end of my doctoral work in 1987, I was interested in faculty positions. Sure, if something would have popped open, I would have been interested. But no, I can’t say that I thought in reality that I’d end up, particularly after I had gone through an entire career largely at two universities. This is a pleasant surprise.
Is it a comfortable move from SEC football country to the land of ACC basketball? I’m actually getting an upgrade on football coming to NC State. I got to experience a national championship at Kentucky before I was gone. But I’m looking forward to that experience, going to football and basketball games and becoming part of that tradition again.
Is there any particular memory that sticks out from your time here? I still have very fond memories of the faculty in the Department of Soil Sciences who were supportive of all the students. I always felt like there was a wonderful faculty network of support, people who were there to help you achieve your goals on the research side of things. I still have fond memories of walking through the Free Expression Tunnel. I never put anything on it. Just reading it was interesting.
What’s your vision for the Division of Academic and Student Affairs? It’s an opportunity to take all of us together in one unit and say we are here to support the success of you as a student in your entirety. I think it’s an interesting model to say that those activities are so intertwined. Why shouldn’t we be looking at it in a holistic manner? My goal is that we would continue to find ways to work across boundaries both internally and externally, to provide opportunities for students to be successful.
What do you want students to know about you as they get to meet and experience you for the first time? I’d certainly like for them to think that if they had a need to talk with me, I’m available. …I think that I’d like people to at least believe that I’m someone who cares about student success, that I want all students, regardless of what organizations they’re in, whether they’re in student government or Greek life, that across the board, we care about their success. I’d certainly like to see students maximize their opportunities at a great university like NC State.