James H. Mullen Jr. has been named the 21st president of Allegheny College. He will take office Aug. 1, 2008.
Mullen was elected unanimously by the Allegheny Board of Trustees on the unanimous recommendation of the Presidential Search Committee, which conducted a national search for a successor to Richard J. Cook, who is retiring after 12 years as president of Allegheny College.
"We are fortunate to have found a new president who has not only broad experience in higher education but a proven track record in leadership roles," said Chris Nelson, chair of the board of trustees. "As president of Elms College, as chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Asheville and as senior vice president of Trinity College, Dr. Mullen has earned accolades. His is a remarkable record of leadership and service."
Mullen has held leadership roles in higher education for 20 years. "To hold the presidency of Allegheny College is a rare privilege in American higher education," he said. "Allegheny is a premier institution that is poised for national pre-eminence. It will be a great honor to be part of shaping the next chapter in its remarkable history. Mari and I are especially honored to follow the wonderful tenure of Richard Cook and Terry Lahti, who have together built such a powerful legacy of leadership and devotion to this college and its surrounding community."
"Jim Mullen is a strong match with Allegheny," said Cook. "I am highly enthusiastic about Dr. Mullen's appointment, and I look forward to working with him closely during this time of transition."
At the University of North Carolina at Asheville, the designated liberal arts campus of the UNC system, Mullen's work helped earn national attention for the university's academic program and statewide praise for its commitment to community. At Trinity College, in Hartford, Conn., Mullen was responsible for Trinity's comprehensive master plan. He also oversaw a nearly $300 million public/private partnership that revitalized the neighborhood surrounding Trinity's campus.
An appreciation for the strength of the Allegheny community is something that the Presidential Search Committee sought in a new president, says Tom Slonaker, chair of the committee and a member of the college's board of trustees.
"Our first step was to talk to as many elements of Allegheny's core constituencies as we could," he said. "What we heard time and time again was that the community – both on campus, among alumni and in the surrounding area – wanted a president who could continue Dr. Cook's remarkable work in making connections, building relationships and creating a sense of community. We found that person in Dr. Mullen. Just as we try to make sure the students who are accepted to Allegheny are a good fit for the institution, we worked hard to make sure we found a president who is a good fit."
Slonaker led a committee that included trustees, alumni, faculty, staff and students.
"Being on the search committee has been an incredible experience," said Jen Wilmore, a senior from Solon, Ohio. "I realized early on that I couldn't judge anyone based upon their responses to questions about endowment and shared governance, but I could read their personalities and communication skills – what I called their 'intangibles.' The intangibles are important because you can't teach them. President Mullen has them. He models Allegheny's ethic of hard work."
In addition to his leadership roles in college administration, Mullen was a sought-after lecturer in Trinity College's public policy department, where his work focused on the American presidency. He also held appointments as professor of history at Elms College and as professor of political science at UNC Asheville.
"Jim Mullen's personal and family values are very well aligned with the values and ideals of American higher education," said Molly Corbett Broad, president-elect of the American Council on Education, the nation's top higher-education group, and president emerita of the University of North Carolina. "His experience and his dedication to the service and scholarship of faculty and students will serve Allegheny College very well for years to come."
An avid proponent of community service, Mullen serves on various boards including the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, the Westover Metropolitan Development Corporation, the National Conference for Community and Justice of Western Massachusetts and the Middlesex Community College Foundation.
He also serves on the Catholic Campus Ministry Association Development Council and the President's Council of WGBY Television. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts.
Mullen is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. He holds a master of public policy degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a doctorate in higher education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He and his wife, Mari Elizabeth, have two children, Franki and James.
"It has been particularly exciting for me to lead institutions at moments of great energy and passion," said Mullen, "moments in which we at once celebrated rich traditions and worked collegially to build new and innovative opportunities to enhance our reputation. Allegheny has a singularly powerful story to tell, and I will greatly enjoy the opportunity to share in telling it."
Click here for a high-resolution photo of Dr. Mullen.