Westmont Magazine Provost to be Houghton President
Shirley Mullen leaves Westmont After 22 Years
After saying, “No” twice, Westmont Provost Shirley Mullen finally said, “Yes.” She will leave Westmont at the end of December to become president of Houghton College.
Mullen joined the Westmont faculty in 1984 to teach English and European history. After assuming a variety of leadership positions, including chair of the faculty and chair of the 1995 long-range planning effort, she served as vice provost for curriculum and faculty development for two years before becoming the college’s first women provost in 2002. She holds doctorates in both history (University of Minnesota) and philosophy (University of Wales) and has scholarly expertise in Victorian Britain and Enlightenment tradition.
“The thought of leaving Westmont and my colleagues on the faculty is deeply painful,” Mullen says. “This is where I learned to teach; this is where I learned to be a person in a role — whether as professor or provost — rather than to have a role overshadow my person; this is where I found my voice.”
Mullen graduated from the New York college, where her father was a professor. “Houghton is part of my roots,” she says. “Although I have been out of that world for 30 years, it profoundly shaped me, and I am drawn by the opportunity to give back to that institution in return for all that it gave to me. My love for the Christian liberal arts tradition has also drawn me into the role of administration in hopes of making things better for the faculty and students of particular Christian learning communities.”
“Westmont is a different place because of Shirley’s contribution, and all of us have benefited from her good work,” says Westmont President Stan D. Gaede.
“She has held more leadership positions more effectively than anyone I have ever known,” he adds. “As every student will attest, she is an extraordinary teacher in the classroom. Students have selected her as Teacher of the Year three times. But she is also a thoughtful scholar with a passion for understanding her subject in the light of God’s revelation and the call of Christ in our lives.”
A leading scholar of the liberal arts, Mullen helped establish the Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts at Westmont. The institute promotes the continued vitality of the liberal arts tradition in American higher education. She also led the effort to revise general education requirements to include more emphasis on foreign languages and social justice issues. She oversees the periodic accreditation reviews.
As provost, Mullen is the second-highest-ranking administrative officer at Westmont and supervises the college’s academic program, including curriculum, faculty, and all student services including the student life and campus pastor’s offices.