Barbara Mulch, Ph.D., dean emerita, director of fellowships and scholars programs, and a longtime champion of Chapman University and generations of students, passed away Sunday, April 29, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, following a massive stroke. She was 77.
In a letter to the campus community announcing Dr. Mulch’s passing Chancellor Daniele Struppa spoke of Dr. Mulch’s unflagging enthusiasm for students.
“I know many of you have known Barbara and have been her friends for several decades, but for those who like me only worked with her in these last few years, I write above all of my own admiration for her commitment to our students and her tireless work to help them gain fellowships and honors that would propel them into their future careers. Every time a student received a fellowship, Barbara celebrated, always deemphasizing her own role and emphasizing the work of the student. Her dedication to our students was without equal,” Struppa wrote.
Dr. Mulch joined then Chapman College 45 years ago, enchanted by college after she signed on for a teaching stint aboard World Campus Afloat, a shipboard study abroad program then sponsored by Chapman and now known as Semester at Sea. In a 2010 Chapman Magazine story Dr. Mulch, an East Asian studies scholar, said she was teaching at a small Midwestern college when she saw a faculty recruitment advertisement for the port-to-port study program and landed the job.
“It was life-changing for me. I ended up coming back to Chapman,” she said.
Over the years she wore many hats at Chapman, from teaching history to serving as dean of graduate studies. In her most recent role she helped students navigate the complex and time-consuming process of applying for highly competitive study program and scholarships. Recent top awards won by Dr. Mulch’s students include Fulbright Scholarships, Harry S. Truman Scholarships, Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarships and Gilman International Scholarships.
Dr. Mulch was famously proud of her students. In the same Chapman Magazine she said it was the students inspired her.
“I want to stress how fortunate I feel to be able to work with these students who are going to really make a difference,” she said. “Most of them are just absolutely amazing young women and men who are going to make us proud.”
Memorial services are still pending. Meanwhile, friends, colleagues, students, faculty and alumni are all welcome to post their memories and reflections here.
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