Introducing: Tony Mueller Director, Community Service Learning

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Pre-Redlands: Tony grew up on a farm in Hollywood, Minn. After graduating from Minnesota State University, majoring in speech communications and theater arts, Tony headed to California in 1984. “Initially I thought because of my majors and having had so much fun as an undergraduate, I was going to get into show business,” he says. “I couldn’t stand Hollywood. I found it extremely competitive and not really my cup of tea.”

Finding a calling: Tony came to Redlands in 1985 and worked in Residence Life for five years. While there he worked with students to raise funds for children in Africa and began to have conversations about service and volunteering with Vice President and Dean of Student Life Char Burgess. “That’s how the volunteer office developed,” he says, and from there it was a natural move for Tony to take on the role of director of community service learning.

What he’s most proud of: “The way academic affairs and student affairs can coalesce and how service learning becomes the catalyst of great transformative experiences for students,” says Tony. “When I have a student come in who has never served anyone and doesn’t want to do the graduation requirement and I can turn that into something impactful for them and for the community. That’s what it’s all about.”

The future: “Part of me just wants to polish what we do and continue to make it better,” says Tony, “but there’s always something new happening, some new crisis we need to respond to.” Tony is aware of areas where there are opportunities to do more, such as working with the elderly. The office is also ramping up the number of projects with an environmental focus. “And I see us doing more global service where it’s appropriate,” says Tony. “Also I’d love to see us be present right in the heart of San Bernardino, offering tutoring for kids who can’t afford a private tutor. We’re ready to do that. We have four tutorial centers now. If we open another one, it’s going to be down there.”

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