Skip to Main Content Skip to Footer Links
Close button Close

The Muller Center

Ethics. Vocation. Civic Engagement.

The Muller Center at Newberry College helps students connect academic learning and civic involvement. Offering opportunities for volunteerism, leadership development, vocational reflection, and community-based inquiry, the Center encourages students to explore questions of civic responsibility; to ask how their skills, knowledge, and interests might be placed in service to the common good; and to reflect upon pursuing a life of meaning. The Center also fosters campus and community conversations about the urgent moral dilemmas facing society in the 21st century.



We match both individuals and student groups with volunteer opportunities, from one-time events to long-term placements. Whether you like working with children or elders, the arts or animals, the soil or computers, we have places you can serve.


Civic Engagement (CE) Courses:  A key element of the Newberry Core Curriculum, CE courses pair civic service with curricular learning. We assist students with placements and facilitate conversations about how to get the most out of community-based learning—and how to give their most too.

Travel Grants For students who are doing off-campus coursework that has a civic or service component, competitive travel grants are available to offset costs.


Muller Student Research Fellowships:A highly selective program, Muller Fellowships support students as they research, design, and implement a project that exemplifies at least one of the core values of the center: ethics, vocation, civic engagement.You might set up a campus kitchen, bring music to elementary schools, or offer your graphic design skills to a local non-profit.

Muller Certificate in Ethical Leadership: Combining curricular rigor, co-curricular development, and civic activity, this certificate program helps students assess their own leadership strengths and styles, connects them to professional development opportunities, and invites them into conversations about civic responsibility and ethical leadership. (Beginning Fall 2017)


Lectures& Symposia: The Muller Center, in partnership with entities both on and office campus, sponsors lectures and symposia featuring leading voices on the pressing moral issues of our day.

Vocation Conference: In partnership with the ELCA, the Center will host a biannual vocational discernment conference. 



In keeping with the Lutheran liberal arts tradition, the Muller Center at Newberry College seeks to promote and practice the active engagement of all members of Newberry College and its community partners in moral discourse, vocational reflection, and civic involvement.


We inhabit a world of limited resources, competing needs, imperfect people, and complex social structures. Ethics equips us with the capacity to ask critical questions of the difficult moral dilemmas facing our world; to listen openly to a variety of perspectives; to develop our own responses; and to act with awareness of self and others. An ethical life oriented toward the common good commits itself to the ongoing cycle of questioning, listening, responding, and acting.


Vocation in its widest sense poses the question of life’s purpose. Within the Lutheran tradition that shapes the mission of Newberry College, vocation names the conviction that we are not intended to live for ourselves alone but rather are called to serve our neighbors. Regardless of our professional identity, we have a purpose beyond individual success. In other words, vocation is where “the good life” meets “the common good.”

Civic Engagement

In the U.S., citizenship carries rights as well as responsibilities. As citizens we are called to pursue the common good. Civic engagement involves acting upon a sense of responsibility to our communities—from the local to the global. Civic engagement encompasses knowledge of the forces that shape communities, skills to participate effectively in collaborative efforts, awareness of commonalities and differences, critical reflection on self and others, and action to identify and address issues of public concern.


The work of the Muller Center is informed by some key guiding principles about education, community, and citizenship.


In the Lutheran liberal arts tradition, education involves more than simply acquiring skills and knowledge. The Muller Center strives to help Newberry fulfill its mission to connect academic learning with personal development, vocational reflection, and civic engagement.


Newberry College strives to be a part of its surrounding community. Community members with whom we work are genuine partners, serving as colleagues and mentors. The Center aims for collaborations that are reciprocal from start to finish.


In a world that seeks to define us as consumers, we at Newberry want to help students consider what it is to be an engaged and responsible citizen, an identity that intersects with the Lutheran understanding of vocation—that in whatever we do, we do so with the need of neighbor in mind.


The Muller Center is funded by a generous bequest from Mr. John D. Muller, Jr., an alumnus of Newberry College as well as an environmentalist and historic preservationist. A committed Lutheran, Mr. Muller designated his funds to be used “to support students pursuing ministry to church and world.” It was determined that the establishment of a Center in his name would extend the greatest impact.

The former Values Based Learning Program, directed by Dr. Joe McDonald, serves as the foundation of the Muller Center’s volunteer and service-learning programming. With the bequest of Dr. Muller, the Center is able to offer additional resources and programs related not only to community engagement but also vocational reflection and ethical leadership.

Muller Staff


The Newberry County Literacy Council, directed by Barbara Chapman, offers programs in reading, math, and computer skills, primarily for adults.  It also facilitates a FAST (Families and Schools Together) program and income tax preparation assistance. The Literacy Council has a long and rich relationship with the College with students engaged in both volunteerism and service-learning. Learn more at

Living Hope is another longstanding partner with the College. Living Hope serves the needs of the community through a food pantry, a thrift store, and after-school and summer programs for children.

back to top