College of the Arts’ Mullen Named Employee of the MonthPublished: April 15, 2009
Pat Mullen, an information technology administrator in the College of the Arts, was recently named by his co-workers as Employee of the Month.
Mullen was surprised by his selection. “I was blown away,” said Mullen, who first joined the university as a student in 1978 on his way toward earning a Bachelor of Music degree in 1995 and a Master of Music in 1998. “In a college like ours, it took a lot of people outside of the Art Department to vote for me. I’m really happy they thought that much of me.”
President F. King Alexander praised Mullen for a professional career at CSULB that began in 1999 in the Art Department. “Pat always goes above and beyond in anticipating the needs of his department and by providing the students with the newest technology,” he said. “His attention to detail is phenomenal despite an overwhelming workload. Pat is smart, engaging, ambitious, highly motivated and hard working.”
Mullen recalls joining an Art Department with only 30 computers. “Today there are almost 300 but there’s still just me,” he laughed. “This is one of the biggest departments on campus with an enrollment that tops 2,000, taught by 110 part- and full-time faculty members. I take care of all the department’s computer labs, servers and the department Web site. I’m in charge of everything digital, from procurement to deployment to policy.”
Mullen believes one reason for his recognition is his skill with people. “A lot of it comes down to personal attention,” he said. “If there’s one thing I learned in the music business, it is the importance of being nice to people. I try to teach our faculty members, staff and students as much as I can on the theory that when the faculty and staff members know how to use and maintain their own computers it makes my job easier and empowers them. After all, 90 years ago, people were just learning what we think of as common knowledge about driving and maintenance of automobiles. Society is at that stage now with computers.”
An average day’s challenges include everything from maintaining the department’s Web site to delivering ink for office printers. “I might pick up a computer from the University Bookstore, then meet with the Art Department chair to discuss a project, then write a proposal for another project or update the inventory. And, of course, there are always computers on my work bench that need attention.”
Mullen first arrived on campus as a student enrolled in what is now the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. “I came here from the San Joaquin Valley because I’d heard CSULB had the best music program west of the Mississippi and I found it was true,” he said. “CSULB is an amazing place. I came for the jazz bands and the concert ensembles I had seen while in high school in Reedley, but I had no idea my hair would stand on end while playing in the Big Brown Music Machinex At Long Beach I got to play with many who are now recognized as some of the best in the business.”
Mullen left in 1981 to pursue a career as a trumpet player, performing for cruise ships, recordings, movies (the latest being on camera and the soundtrack for “Hidalgo”), at Disneyland (where he is still a member of the Disneyland Fanfare Trumpets), and in shows in every major venue in Southern California.
His professional skill set ranges far beyond hitting the high notes. “I wear a lot of technology hats,” he said. “I have to stay current with multiple computer technologies in order to manage a large deployment of lab computers, several servers and the department Web site while also providing support and consultation to faculty, staff, and students and, somewhere in there, try to bring in new technologies that students and faculty want to use. But I also have to know about purchasing, keep up with campus policies, and do whatever paperwork is necessary. It always helps to have a little bureaucrat in you on a university campus.”
If there’s a message Mullen tries to communicate to his artistic clients, it is the gospel of learning about the technology they use. “Many people are power users in their specialty but have little knowledge about computer basics and only vague notions of how to increase their knowledge. Questions like ‘What is the difference between memory and hard disk?’, ‘What maintenance should I be doing on a regular basis?’, and ‘Where are the system preferences and why should I care?’ are sure signs these folks aren’t getting the most out of their computers. I try to make them comfortable enough with some of those basics so they grow into the technology and become confident instead of fearful about it. I know I’ve scored when I see the light of true understanding in their eyes as they ask me a question about something only a geek would want to know.”
When he isn’t trying to turn the entire Art Department into computer geeks, Mullen enjoys spending time with his wife, Janet, and their two children, Loren, a freshman business major at CSULB, and Colin, a 7th grader at Hughes Middle School. “I enjoy fishing, strategy games, home improvements, and maintaining our yard, pond, and aquarium,” he said. “But I don’t watch TV. Who has time when your life is full?”
Mullen is glad he chose CSULB. “Here I am, an IT guy, and I can play with amazing musicians at any time,” he said. “That never would have happened if I’d stayed in Reedley. Coming to Long Beach State put me right in the middle of Southern California, the richest musical environment in the world. When I play a gig, I am likely to meet some great musician I haven’t seen in awhile, and chances are that any job I play will have at least one CSULB alumnus in the orchestra.”
Mullen received several gifts along with the renaming of Friendship Walk as Pat Mullen Lane including a CSULB sweatshirt, a $25 gift certificate to Buono’s Pizzeria, a gift certificate for four tickets to one CSULB home game for the sport of his choice, a gift certificate for one full-service car wash at Circle Marina Hand Car Wash, a coupon for one Tommy’s World Famous Hamburger and a coupon for one Whopper at Burger King.