Muller Center for Exploration and Engagement
Explore with Purpose, Engage the World
The Muller Center’s mission is to advance Newberry’s Lutheran liberal arts heritage. This means providing students, staff, faculty, community members, and alumni with programs and resources that encourage vocational exploration, civic engagement, and ethical inquiry. The Center invites and equips all members of the Newberry College community to engage, through both reflection and action, “life’s big questions” of identity, meaning, purpose, and service.
Programs and Events
Table Talks: An opportunity for students to share a meal with staff, faculty, and community members, to hear about their life journeys, and to discuss meaningful questions
Muller Film Series: Monthly film screenings of documentaries that profile pressing social issues and ethical questions, followed by an opportunity to reflect as a community
Religious Diversity Week: Held each spring in partnership with the Chaplain’s Office and the Office of Diversity Education, this week celebrates the gifts of the world’s many religious traditions
DEIB: Programs, leadership, and professional development opportunities around issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in collarboration with other offices and departments on campus
National Days of Services: Sponsorship of annual National Day of Service on September 11 and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, organizing opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to serve in the community.
Community Service: Bridging students to opportunities to serve in the community of Newberry and beyond through in-person support and the Helper Helper app
Community-Based Learning (CE) Support: Assistance with CE courses, from identifying relevant sites for serving to navigating logistics, such as transportation and background checks
Purpose Exploration: Resources and mentoring for students making decisions about declaring or changing a major, career goals, and civic engagement and leadership.
Strengths Assessment: Support for students in interpreting their Clifton Strengths Top 5 reports and applying insights to academic and professional goals
Professional Development: Workshops, trainings, conversation groups, digital resources, and a small library to promote the vocational vitality of staff and faculty
Community-Based Learning (CE) Support: Assistance in identifying community partners for collaboration, preparing students for ethical community engagement, and arranging logistics.
Mini-Grants: Small grants of up to $250 for faculty, staff, or departments to support student-oriented programs that advance at least one Muller value—vocation, ethics, or community engagement
Conference Support: Funding for faculty and staff to attend conferences hosted by NECU, NetVUE, and other organizations that foster professional development in vocational exploration and/or civic engagement
Communities of Practice: Resources and funding for staff-faculty groups to build professional capacity in an area of student need in the curriculum or co-curriculum
Student Volunteers: Assistance with recruiting students to volunteer for one-time events or on an ongoing basis
Community-Based Learning Partnerships: Opportunities to partner with Newberry faculty to design and implement long-term projects that bridge community interests and needs with students’ academic development
Community Partner Connections: Space for community partners to come together to exchange ideas, combine resources, and develop the collective capacity of local stakeholders to ensure a Newberry where all may thrive.
Muller Center staff are active on campus and in the broader Newberry community and collaborate frequently with other departments, offices, and agencies to build a better Newberry.
Dr. Krista E. Hughes, Director & Associate Professor of Religion
Hughes joined Newberry College as the founding director of the Muller Center in January 2015. An academic theologian by training and a teacher by heart, she sets the strategic vision for the center. Her primary focus is developing and delivering vocational (or “purpose”) exploration activities and resources across the College. She works with colleagues in all curricular and co-curricular departments to infuse the Lutheran educational values of vocation, ethics, and civic commitment into the full student experience at Newberry.
Hughes is active at the national level in the fields of vocational exploration and Lutheran higher education, serving as Chair of the Faculty Working Group of NECU (Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities) and as a frequent contributor to NetVUE (Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education). Locally, she serves in the city of Newberry as Vice Chair of the Building Thriving Communities Foundation and in the Upstate of South Carolina as a facilitator with Speaking Down Barriers.
Mr. Carlton Kinard ’16, Program Coordinator for Civic Engagement
Kinard has served as Program Coordinator for Civic Engagement since August 2021. A native of Newberry, a proud graduate of the college, and a member of Newberry’s City Council, Kinard connects students, staff, and faculty to opportunities and events in the wider community and hosts community partners on campus. He is passionate about growing the relational bonds between the campus, especially students, and the community.
Kinard serves as an advisor to Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and teaches in the College Life program. Among his many other roles on campus and off, he works as an Admissions Counselor and in town serves on the boards of the Building Thriving Communities Foundation, the YMCA, the Newberry Chamber of Commerce, and Newberry’s N.A.A.C.P. chapter.
Krista E. Hughes | Director
803.321.5215 | email@example.com
Carlton Kinard | Program Coordinator for Civic Engagement
803.321.5615 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Office: Keller Hall | 2nd Floor
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Mission and History
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.
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 professor emeritus Dr. Joe McDonald, served as the foundation of the Muller Center’s volunteer and service-learning programming.
The Center has also benefitted from a Program Development Grant and a Vocation across the Academy Grant from the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE), which is administered by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and generously funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc.