Dr. Barbara Mulch, long-time champion of students, Chapman, remembered



The late Dr. Barbara Mulch is remembered this week for her unflagging Chapman spirit.

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.


Dr. Barbara Mulch, 2010 file photo.

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.

Dawn Bonker


  • Barbara was a ray of sunshine to many who knew her. Words cannot capture what she meant to this community and just how much we will  truly mourn her passing.

  • I was lucky enough to work with Barbara on the Rock n Roll shows. After Pauls passing she stepped up and produced two shows. She was a tireless, enthusiastic, behind the scenes person that gave all the credit to the students in the show even though without her efforts, the show could not have happened. In a very short period of time I grew to admire and respect her. What a wonderful person she was. I was just asking about her no more than a week ago wishing I could say hi and see how she was. I know to her own and to the Chapman family she will be missed.  Rest in peace Barbara.

  • Love you, Barbara!!  You will be missed and now you can hold court with some other Chapman greats: Paul Frizler, Ron Thronson, Richard Watson, Dick Doetkott, not to mention others who have inspired & supported the Chapman cause!  RIP dear lady….

  • Barbara was a wonderful friend to my father, Paul Frizler, and I will never forget her.  XO

  • Barbaba, welcome to Rock n’ Roll Heaven….Make sure you stop by and see Paul Frizler. 

  • Her passing is such sad news. Barbara was such a wonderful person and I am so thankful for the time I had to work with her. She will be sorely missed. RIP Barbara, our prayers are with your family now.

  • Barbara was the gold thread that held the fabric of the Chapman tapestry together for many years.  I will miss her laugh, her smile, and her ready sense of humor.  Rest in peace, dear one. 

  • I met Barbara at the Staff Luncheons….She was known to me as “The Pinapple Lady”, she loved the fresh Pineapple offer each week at our Staff Lunches…She was so friendly and warm to all of us who attended….She brought Sunshine in the room each time I saw her…I am glad to have met her…She will be sorely missed…
    Kim Russell

  • I am reading this article from my study abroad university in London – something that would never have been possible had Dr. Mulch not helped me achieve the scholarship that I needed to fund the trip. The shock is incredible, but I feel amazingly blessed to have known this woman and now I am even more inspired than ever to make the most of this trip. Thank you Barbara for everything.

  • I cannot put into words how devastating it is to have lost such a wonderful women, friend, coworker and mentor.  She has touched the lives of many and has made a huge impact in her time at Chapman.  Like Kim, I will always remember her love of pineapple and will think of her everytime I have it in the future.

  • For many years Barbara Mulch I called her Dr. Mulch; she always commanded respect and admiration. It was only after her own persistent insistence that I began to know her as Barbara as well.  She was an outstanding human being and in my memory still commands respect and admiration.

  • I was saddened to hear of Barbara’s passing. She was always full of spunk that it will be hard to imagine Chapman without her. Not only was she extremely supportive when I was a student-athlete, but also during my professional career too. I loved the Rock and Roll shows so after she wasn’t able to be involved anymore, no one could replace her or Paul.

    See all those who loved Barbara at her Memorial Service next week!

  • I was so touched by Barbara’s words at my father Dick Doetkott’s memorial just two months ago.  She was a very dear lady and will be so very missed by the Chapman community.  

  • I worked with Barbara  15 years ago.  She was the most selfless, committed academic I have ever worked with.  She was Chapman University even through all its changes

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