For immediate release: Jan. 15, 2007
BLOOMSBURG — Maureen Mulligan speaks about attending a Beatles concert when she was 11 years old, posing for a childhood photo with professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino and cheering for “her” winning Pittsburgh Steelers at last year’s Superbowl. She talks of her admiration for former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her desire to see an ice shelf in Antarctica. But her enthusiasm for Upward Bound outshines any memories of personal experiences or plans for retirement.
Mulligan retired from Upward Bound Jan. 5 after 28 years at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. She spent 22 of those years with UB, including 15 as the program’s director.
“I want to leave while the enthusiasm remains…while it matters to me that I leave,” Mulligan said. “It’s time for somebody else to take the program to the next step.” That “somebody else” is Kate Bauman, formerly Upward Bound’s assistant director.
When Mulligan became Upward Bound’s director, her primary focus was to build on an already-strong program. Upward Bound gave her the opportunity to work with high school students and offered enough variety to keep her challenged.
“It involved counseling, travel, recruitment, teaching and a residential component which I think is almost as important as the academic side,” she said. “Students in high school or college learn so much in a residential setting: social skills, a sense of independence, time management. They have to learn to think for themselves and develop their own opinions.
“My goal has been to develop global citizens,” she added. “I like to work with students in a holistic manner, to build self-esteem and confidence by showing they can become successful.”
Upward Bound is open to high school students from low-income backgrounds. In addition to the residential component, it stresses academics and diversity to prepare students to become the first members of their families to attend college. At BU, the program started in 1978 and currently serves students from the following school districts: Berwick, Bloomsburg, Mahanoy Area, Milton, Minersville, Mount Carmel, North Schuylkill, Pottsville, Shamokin and Shikellamy. Mulligan said 85 percent of Upward Bound students who come through BU’s program go on to college and about one-third enroll at Bloomsburg.
“The thing that I’m most proud of is the students and their accomplishments,” Mulligan said. “When we had our 20th anniversary reunion several years ago, we had two former students as speakers. One didn’t finish college, but had gone on to be a role model, an entrepreneur and a great father; the other is a woman who has four degrees, including one in law and a Ph.D. When I look at them, I see two successes. I think this program can do so much for students, regardless of the final degree.”
In retirement, she plans to split her time between Bloomsburg and Florida, play golf, read the dozen books she’s accumulated over the years about Roosevelt – “a women who had great power, but never got any credit until after the fact” – and travel to Antarctica “as a present to myself.” She said she may volunteer in a program that serves young children.
“I’ll do something to give back to society,” she said. “My whole career has been doing things for other people. Upward Bound might even ask me back from time to time.”
Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Professional Studies, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.