Long-time Athletic Director Tom Mulligan is retiring at the end of August. After 11 years on the job, this accomplishment is well-earned, but he will be deeply missed.
“In my time at Hiram, nobody’s work ethic has exceeded Tom Mulligan’s,” said Thomas V. Chema, President of Hiram College. “Pick up any sports page, and you’ll probably see some overpaid professional athlete talking about his only goal is to help his team. Tom Mulligan’s goal was not only to help a whole lot of teams, but to help the wider Hiram College community as well. Tom really gets it in terms of collaboration between sports and every other experience that is Hiram.”
His accomplishments are numerous, including:
- 350 participants in varsity athletic programs
- Successful opening of the Coleman Center
- NCAC championships in volleyball and softball
- Four NCAC Coach of the Year honors for staff members
- New locker room facilities
- New artificial turf at Henry Field
- Construction of the Myrtis Herndon softball field
- Establishment of men’s and women’s lacrosse programs
- Re-shaping of the athletic fundraising process and rebranding of the Hollinger Fund
- Lights on the soccer field
- Establishment of a graduate assistant program
But perhaps his most important accomplishment was working tirelessly to connect the athletic program to the rest of the campus.
“I like to think of athletics as meat and potatoes to what we do at Hiram,” Mulligan said. “That’s clear by the fact that more than half of the new Class of 2017 are coming here as athletes.
“In the big picture, Hiram students are learning skills that will help them in every aspect of their lives. Athletes, for example, are taught about teamwork, how to understand and accept their roles on a team, how that contributes to group success, how to lead and be led, and how to deal with both winning and losing. Athletics are a microcosm of life. We hold our coaches responsible for teaching all of this, not just game strategies.”
Mulligan said Division III schools certainly have neither the revenues nor the expenses associated with Division I.
“But we don’t take a back seat when it comes to wanting to be competitive, to win,” he said. “I never expect any team to win every game. But, I do think we should always have a plan to win, always strive to win on the field just as we should aspire to success in all aspects of our lives. We learn best when we feel good about ourselves and winning is part of that. It’s important to win games. It’s important to achieve success. We need to expect that.”
As he looks forward to retirement, he said he feels best about the work he has done in helping young people realize their goals.
“I focus on team efforts,” Mulligan said. “That’s what I’m about. We have talented, good people on this campus and when we come together to focus on good projects, we really get something done. I like being part of that.”
One of the collaborative projects that launched under Mulligan’s watch is the Learning Commons Program, led by his successor as athletic director, Ellen Dempsey. This program started as an initiative to help athletes in the classroom and the community but has now spread to the entire campus making quality advice available to every student, especially all first-year students.