richardmThis year NASPA has honored one of our program’s greatest gems, Dr. Mullendore, with their Pillar of the Profession Award.

Describing Dr. Mullendore’s awards, honors, and previous positions makes me feel like I’m showing off just by knowing the man. He’s been a leader or a distinguished member in nearly every organization and association in our field.

But I personally know his most prized possession is a small honor that tells volumes about the relationships Dr. Mullendore creates with students. I am of course speaking about his role as the CSAA 2010 Beard Commissioner.

Back in 2010 I was an inappropriately brazen (not much has changed) young masters student in the CSAA program, who gleefully admired Dr. Mullendore’s trademark, and majestic beard. With pluck and vigor one late October I asked him to serve as the Commissioner of our little group of masters students looking to raise prostate cancer awareness for the annual No-Shave-November festivities. Dr. Mullendore Beard Commissioner group photoHis response was textbook; he threw his head back, laughed, and readily agreed. His role of course was to supervise the group under his beard leadership (Beardership), and make beard-related rulings as he saw fit.

Regardless of the seriousness of a situation Dr. Mullendore is ready and willing to get involved. I remember him one day relaying an old anecdote from his days as the VP of Student Affairs at UGA. During Orientation he stood in front of a room of parents, and gave them his home phone number.  My fellow masters students and I gasped at the revelation, and in our mind, lunacy of his actions. But he calmed us by explaining his logic and what he told parents that day. He said to them, this number isn’t for the small day to day issues, but there might be one night and one situation where you need someone at the university to respond to help your child, and I want to be that person, so stick this number on your fridge. He told us that he didn’t regularly get calls, but when he did, it was worth it.

He later explained, that it wasn’t just the number he provided, but a sense of comfort for the parents of those students, that their children were in safe and loving hands. Because any person who is willing to give his home phone number to a room full of parents, is either deeply disturbed or has a level of diligence that doing so is just the tip of a very large iceberg of care. A Care-berg if you will.

Normally for some practitioners his actions with helping students would be enough, but Dr. Mullendore continued his mission to advance the field.  He remains one of our foremost scholars. Dr. Mullendore’s ubiquitous image can be found at nearly every major presentation on parent relations, and jointly at every conference hotel bar — where he taught us the power of networking and developing an important professional relationship is just a pint away.

But most importantly for me, he was an integral part of my CSAA experience. He taught me that you can work in this field, have a sense of humor, and approach things realistically. He has been someone in the past few years I can call when I truly am stumped and need to hear the hard truth.

He is a man who is completely comfortable with his experiences, and uses those experiences to teach others. One of the greatest takeaways from any of Dr. Mullendore’s classes are the segments where he re-hashes some of the situations that defined his career. In those moments, we got to feel the weight of his experience, and the pain of his mistakes. He made no qualms about where he went wrong, and he saved us all from charting down a difficult path.

It is a difficult task to be so open about your life and still approach everything with so much joy. It is the sign of an individual who has lived much, learned more, and tried hardest. I am deeply thankful for the time I was able to spend under Dr. Mullendore’s tutelage, and proud to say he shaped who I am as a student affairs practitioner.

He remains someone almost born out of myth. You could never doubt his abilities, intelligence, and sheer fortitude. There might be a day where you were told a story about Dr. Mullendore jumping off a 5 story building and landing unharmed; and your only response would be “I heard it was 8.”

In Dr. Mullendore’s own words I say “Peace and love, baby. Peace and love.” (Mullendore, 2009)

Written by Colby Moss CSAA-M 2011
Area Coordinator, Center for Student Engagement
The George Washington University 

2 thoughts on “Dr. Richard Mullendore, 2014 NASPA Pillar of the Profession

  1. Colby – great post, thank you so much for contributing to the blog! I too enjoy the classes I have had with Dr. Mullendore and get to spend time with him in Admin next semester. I am really looking forward to it.

    Reply

  2. Dr. Mullendore is a great man whom I had the pleasure of working for and learned so much! He is such a down to earth person and truly a great friend. Thankful that we had the opportunity to work together! This is a well deserved award for him!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *