by Doug Gaerte, Professor of Communication; Chair, Department of Communication
The 10 years that President Mullen has occupied the corner office on the first floor of the Luckey Building have been a time of great change. Her experience of that time has been shaped by hundreds of meetings with campus administrators, leaders from other colleges, donors and alumni, and various boards and civic leaders as well as students at the various campus events she attends when she is in town. My experience of those years has been in the classroom. And yet, from her office in Luckey and mine in the Chamberlain Center, we both look out over the quad in the center of campus and watch as daily life at Houghton unfolds much like it has for generations.
During the last year, I have had several opportunities to hear President Mullen share why she is hopeful about Houghton’s future. While her remarks have primarily looked ahead, I have also sensed in her comments that she was taking stock of all that has unfolded thus far in her tenure as president. After all, she is an historian. But while the president and I have experienced the last decade from different vantage points, I’ve come to the conclusion that we share some very similar perspectives about the many ways that Houghton has changed in the last ten years and, just as important, the ways it has stayed the same.
After a period of relative stability in senior leadership at the college, the inauguration of a new president in 2006 prompted a number of changes in the administration. Given the close friendships that are built in a tight-knit community like Houghton, those losses often hurt. Changes in the faculty have also occurred at an accelerated pace. Nearly half of our current faculty joined Houghton since President Mullen arrived. For some reason, my colleagues look a lot younger than they did 28 years ago when I started teaching here. (Now that I think about it, so do my students. I wonder….) And yet, at our April Retirement and Recognition event, it was again obvious that we have been blessed by the long-term commitment of faithful servants at Houghton. Seven retirees were honored, all with more than 25 years of service to the college.