New Academic Vice President/Provost Begins Work
When Lizabeth Self Mullens began her duties recently as Pennsylvania College of Technology's new vice president for academic affairs/provost (the college's chief academic officer), she characterized it as "coming home."
Mullens' impressive resume includes more than 25 years in higher-education administration and teaching at a variety of institutions, but the move to Penn College brought to mind the place where her professional career began: Tennessee Technological University. Over a nine-year period, Mullens served as Tennessee Tech's associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics, as well as director (and a faculty member) in the School of Home Economics.
"I believe that any move to a new environment requires observation, learning, exploring and adapting," Mullens said. "However, I feel like I am 'coming home' here at Pennsylvania College of Technology, as this college fits so well with my values and goals and my wonderful experience at Tennessee Tech earlier in my life."
Mullens comes to Penn College directly from The Pennsylvania State University, where she served as director of the Women's Leadership Initiative in the College of Health and Human Development since 2003, overseeing a program for undergraduate women students and alumnae mentors.
"I loved my work at Penn State, and, because I was in program development there, I am finding that my experience working with so many different constituents prepared me well for this next role with Penn College," she said.
At Penn College, Mullens will lead eight academic schools that enroll more than 6,500 students and employ nearly 300 full-time faculty members. She will also oversee all related academic services and auxiliary operations, including Workforce Development and Continuing Education, which serves more than 2,000 corporate and community clients and administers statewide, grant-funded initiatives.
Mullens holds a Ph.D. in human ecology-interdisciplinary from the University of Tennessee. She earned a master's degree in textiles and apparel from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor's degree in home economics education from Miami (Ohio) University.
"My educational and professional background prepared me very well for the challenges of this new role," Mullens said. "My undergraduate degree in home economics education involves preparation over several disciplines in an applied profession. My graduate work in textiles and apparel allows me to understand some of the science and technology in place here at Penn College. The interdisciplinary focus of my Ph.D. program fosters an understanding of connections between programs and ways that programs can be thrive both individually and in concert with other programs."
Mullens said she has been paying attention to Penn College since returning to Pennsylvania several years ago from Maine, where she worked as a community educator, extension educator and consultant.
"I kept hearing so many good comments about the leadership here, the commitment to students, the opportunities to contribute and the opportunities for students here both during the academic program and following graduation," she said. "The mission and goals of Penn College fit well with my own."
Though Mullens has worked in a variety of high-level administrative positions over the years, she considers it vital to remain in close contact with students in order to understand their needs. "I entered academic administration early in my career while continuing to teach at least one class with every leadership position," she said. "Staying connected to students is very important to me."
Mullens began her duties at Penn College only a week ago, but she says that's been enough time to know that she made the right decision in seeking the vice president for academic affairs post.
"My initial impression of Penn College has been wonderful. ... People are so very welcoming and have offered tremendous support," she said. "I have great mentors and a well-planned program of orientation. This impression actually began during the interview process, where I experienced very organized, thoughtful opportunities to learn, as well as share. That thread continues to run through each day and brings great value to my learning process."
In the near future, Mullens hopes to discover as much about the institution as possible, in order to better fulfill her duties and responsibilities as the college's highest-ranking academic administrator.
"My immediate focus is on learning," she said. "So many wonderful projects are under way, and so many terrific people are making it all happen. Long term, I hope to contribute well to the accomplishment of the mission and the goals of the college."
For more information about Penn College, call toll-free (800) 367-9222 or visit online.