August 25, 2004 | By: Haven Miller

When the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture’s new Associate Dean for Academic Programs meets people for the first time he could accurately introduce himself as a soil expert, a scientist, or a researcher.

But over the years Mike Mullen has preferred to introduce himself as a teacher, a role that has earned him numerous awards.

“I was exposed to some wonderful teachers while in college and they made it exciting to be in the classroom, so I knew I wanted to be involved in teaching,” Mullen said.

The Indiana native, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Purdue University and a Ph.D. from North Carolina State, began his teaching career in 1989 at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

“At UT-Martin I taught three or four classes a semester and did most of the advising for the soils and environmental science students, and I really enjoyed it,” he said.

After five years at Martin and nine at UT-Knoxville as the lead teacher in the soils program, Mullen accepted an offer in 2002 to become a faculty member in the UK College of Agriculture’s Department of Agronomy.  This summer he was promoted to Associate Dean for Academic Programs, a role which has responsibility over curriculum, instruction, advising, scholarships, student organizations, faculty and student awards and program accreditation reviews.

“Dr. Mullen brings to this position a passion for teaching, a commitment to excellence and a strong reputation for putting the needs of students first, and our college is extremely fortunate to have a person of his caliber join our administrative team,” said Scott Smith, dean of the College of Agriculture.

In his new job, Mullen provides guidance and oversight for a college-wide curriculum that offers 17 different majors in such diverse areas as production agriculture, merchandising, human nutrition, environmental sciences, education and leadership, agricultural business and economics and biotechnology. 

He approaches the job with a philosophy of keeping students challenged by offering them access to the latest technology, providing them hands-on experiences and encouraging them to participate in international opportunities.

“This past May five of our students toured the Burgundy area of France to see how agriculture is done there, and another group of our students toured China this summer, so I feel that between internships and international travel and other hands-on experiences we’re providing many opportunities for our students to diversify their own thoughts and backgrounds and be better prepared for the world today.”

Among Mullen’s teaching awards are the University of Tennessee National Alumni Association’s Outstanding Teacher Award in 1996, the Early-Career Award in Education in 1996 and the Career Award in Education in 2003 from the Southern Branch of the American Society of Agronomy. In 2002 he was named a Teacher Fellow by the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture.


Source: Scott Smith, 859-257-4772