Megan Mustain to be new Vice President of Academic Affairs

The Texas native will replace current VPAA Deneese Jones starting in June

With 2021 being a significant year for transition at Trinity, and universities across the globe, university administration is seeing a significant number of new hires including a new Vice President of Academic Affairs (VPAA). On Friday, March 19, President Anderson announced that Trinity would be welcoming Megan Mustain to fill that role starting in June.

Mustain comes to Trinity from Saint Mary’s College in California, but is originally from the state of Texas and has previously lived in San Antonio. Growing up, Mustain remembered Trinity University as the “place to be” in the higher education world of Texas.

“What I had found was that Trinity had, in the time that I had been gone, [between early childhood and her return to San Antonio] really doubled down on being what it is… an even stronger institution and even more beautiful institution,” said Mustain.

With the departure of current VPAA Deneese Jones and associate VPAA for Student Academic Issues and Retention, Michael Soto, the Office of Academic Affairs is preparing for the opportunities and challenges of a shifting Academic Affairs team.

In preparation for the arrival of Mustain “we [the Department of Academic Affairs] have to strike an interesting balance. We need to put a lot of energy in helping an incoming VP understand the lay of the land, the way things are done, normal process, policies, and so forth. It’s important to make space for an incoming academic leader to introduce change,” said Duane Coltharp, associate VPAA for Curriculum and Faculty Development.

After more than a year of working remotely, the Department of Academic Affairs expects to continue operating virtually throughout the summer. In the coming weeks, current Academic Affairs administrators expect to meet in preparation for Mustain’s arrival.

“The campus needs to get to know Dr. Mustain and Dr. Mustain needs to get to know the campus,” said Dr. Lisa Jasinski, special assistant to the VPAA.

A significant aspect of the team’s work will be to plan and later conduct what is often called a “listening tour” to orient Mustain to Trinity’s campus. The listening tour is likely to involve a series of meetings where Mustain will talk with various groups on a light agenda. The intention will be for Mustain to hear from members of the Trinity community and for Trinity community members to ask questions.

“The most important thing for me to do to be good at my job is spend a lot of time listening, meeting with various groups in various combinations,” Mustain said.

From the perspective of Coltharp, the role of the VPAA is to set the strategic direction for the division of Academic Affairs by providing guiding principles in decision making processes and set new goals for the department.

Special Assistant to the VPAA, Lisa Jasinski, shared that the office’s goal is to “set the conditions for faculty to do their best work about teaching, research, etc., so that students can be academically and holistically successful.”

Mustain shared that one of her primary strengths is thinking together with people.

“We are always trying to find the best way forward, whether it’s seizing opportunities or dealing with problems… I bring my perspectives and bright ideas, I really need everyone else to bring their perspectives and bright ideas, and also to tell me ‘your bright idea, not so bright.’”

Jasinski also relayed how important it was to the hiring committee to hire a VPAA that was student-centered.

To Mustain, being student-centric means constantly orienting the work of Academic Affairs to the experience of students and asking herself “what is it, in the experience our students are having, that I can help improve, support, or sustain?”

“[Teaching] is profoundly important to me and is the basis for why I’m in administration. I see my work as helping to make that really sacred classroom moment happen, helping to make it such that a faculty member and group of students can do something life changing,” Mustain said.