Shirley A. Mullen

President, Houghton College, Houghton, New York

Became Trustee


Career Summary
Shirley Mullen was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and grew up in eastern Canada as a pastor’s daughter. In 1966, her family moved to Houghton, where her father had accepted a position in the Bible and Philosophy Department. After high school, Shirley stayed in Houghton for college, where she majored in history and graduated summa cum laude in 1976. She immediately went on to complete an MA in history at the University of Toronto. At this juncture, Shirley worked for two years at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, in student life, after which she attended the University of Minnesota, completing her PhD in history in 1985.

Shirley spent the first 23 years of her academic career teaching European history at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, during which time she received the college’s “teacher of the year” award three times. She loves teaching history in any context and to any age group—from world civilization survey, to senior-level seminars, to travel-study programs for students, alumni, and “friends of the college.” Her special fields of interest are the European Enlightenment tradition, the Victorian period in England, and World War I. Her interest in philosophy of history led her to pursue a second doctorate in philosophy on the work of David Hume. Just about the time she was finishing this doctorate, her passion for the Christian liberal arts learning context began pulling her more deeply into the larger institutional questions—a sure recipe for a move into college administration.

After serving as provost at Westmont for four years, she accepted the presidency of her alma mater in the spring of 2006. While she misses the classroom context, she has found that the fields of history and philosophy are excellent training for the presidency—balancing the concrete and theoretical, the contingent and the inevitable.

Board Member Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (New York State)
CCCU (Council for Christian Colleges and Universities)
National Association of Evangelicals
NAICU (National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities)
Tax Committee and Allegany County United Way
(626) 584-5200
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