Vice Provost for Student Academics and Dean of the Core

Vice Provost for Student Academics Megan Mustain, PhD, is Dean of the Core at Saint Mary's College of California.

Megan MustainIn late August of 2017, as freshmen began arriving on campus, Megan Mustain was struck by the cheerful kindness of the student volunteers who greeted newcomers and helped them unload their belongings. Some of those volunteers, said Mustain, who had then served as Saint Mary’s first dean of the core curriculum for less than two months, even “consoled parents who were grieving at dropping off their first-years.”

“The level of student caring is incredible,” said Mustain, who assumed the deanship on July 1, 2017 at SMC after a 12-year career at Saint Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, where she chaired the philosophy department and then founded and directed that institution’s core curriculum. “I see why the faculty are so devoted to the students.”

Values like caring and service are crucial to Mustain, who majored in genetics and biochemistry at Texas A&M University but decided, after taking an introductory philosophy class, not to pursue a previously intended career in medicine or environmental toxicology. “I realized that I was drawn to questions about values and ideals and goals,” she said. “And philosophy really focuses on those questions.”

Part of Mustain’s role at Saint Mary’s is to oversee projects that impact the core curriculum—for example, ensuring that the 2018-19 class schedule gives undergrads access to the core classes they need, a logistical and negotiating process that Mustain compared to assembling a “giant Jenga puzzle.” But in the long-term, big-picture view—the philosophical view, you could say—her task is to lead SMC in evaluating “how well our core programs are serving our students, and how these programs are meeting our educational ideals.”

Like many new arrivals to the Bay Area, Mustain appreciates the area’s natural beauty and, as a Texas transplant, she especially enjoys the lack of mosquitos. The move meant abandoning her in-home woodworking shop, but on the upside, she and her husband are learning to embrace a more outdoorsy lifestyle, and “basically eating our way through” their new hometown of Oakland.

Most of all, though, she’s focused on getting to know and serve the Saint Mary’s community. “I not only love talking to people, but I want folks to think of me as a thought partner,” Mustain said, adding that the protocol for getting in touch with her is simple. “I am excited to hear all of the voices across campus—faculty, students, administrators, and staff,” she said. “My door is open!”