'Rare' Trait -- Mulligan Shapes Academic Programs She Administers

UVA Today is highlighting the winners of the 2012 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Awards, the highest U.Va. honor staff receive for their dedicated service to the University. Today: Anne Mulligan of the Miller Center. To see all of the stories, click here.

May 17, 2012 — "Heart and soul of the program." "Critical connective tissue." "Remarkable herder of cats."

These are a few of the phrases that describe Anne Mulligan, coordinator for academic programs in the Miller Center's Democracy and Governance Studies department and recipient of a 2012 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Award.

Since her arrival in 2006, the quality of work at the Miller Center, as well as the coordination among its many programs, "noticeably improved," wrote Sidney M. Milkis, White Burkett Miller Professor of Politics and the center's director for academic programs, in his nomination letter.

When the Democracy and Governance Studies program was created, "I agreed to become the director … only if the Miller Center and the University would promote Anne so that she could become the coordinator of the program," Milkis wrote.

Democracy and Governance Studies is now an "internationally respected program that has brought great credit to the University," Milkis wrote. Although part of the program's success is attributable to its distinguished faculty and the support it receives from center director and CEO Gerald Baliles, Milkis wrote, "Anne is the real heart and soul of the program. … Indeed in over 25 years in the academy, a tour of duty that has included a number of administrative responsibilities, I have never worked with anyone as gifted as Anne."

She is the "rare staff person who can participate in and contribute to the shaping of the academic programs she administers," he wrote. A recent example of this is the launch of "Riding the Tiger,"the Miller Center's blog on the 2012 presidential campaign. It "would not have happened without her – not only was her counsel critical to formulating the idea, but our confidence that she would be a superb managing editor for the enterprise was essential for the Miller Center faculty, most of whom are highly skeptical about the intellectual value of blogs, to buy into the project," Milkis wrote.

In addition, Mulligan is often called upon to help draft Baliles' speeches and she is now coordinating a study undertaken by the center's governing council of the institution's leadership, programs and future prospects.

"She is recruited for such major and challenging tasks partly because of her obvious and unusual talents. But another important factor is that Anne … grasps the value of the whole," Milkis wrote.

Other faculty members echoed Milkis' praise.

"Rarely in my academic career … have I worked with a more efficient, intelligent, proactive and imaginative assistant as Anne Mulligan," history professor Melvyn Leffler wrote. "She is amazingly deserving of this award."

– by Rebecca Arrington