Gratitude in action

Mullenger on campus for an Alumni Board of Governors meeting
Robert Mullenger, BS '89, soaked up the mentorship he received while at WashU. Now despite living in California, he's serving as a mentor to current undergraduate and graduate students. Photo by Sid Hastings

As he thinks back on his days as a student in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, Robert Mullenger, BS ’89, says, “At that stage of my life, I wanted to have access to ­people who would mentor me. I soaked up everything they said.”

Mullenger found many mentors during his four years at Washington University, and he is grateful for the guidance he received. As a recipient of the James B. Eads Memorial ­Scholarship sponsored by McCarthy Building Companies, Mullenger had dinner with the late Timothy R. McCarthy, former president and vice chair of the company, annually. Mullenger was also invited to ­McCarthy’s office for a tour and informational interview. “I spent the day learning about the construction business and the role engineering played in that industry. It was really significant,” he recalls.

One of ­Mullenger’s most influential mentors was his adviser, ­William Pickard, senior professor in the ­Department of ­Electrical & Systems Engineering. “He gave me excellent advice about the courses I should take, like economics and patent law. He had a huge impact on my life and career,” Mullenger says.

Today, Mullenger lives in Mountain View, California, with his wife, Rhonda, and ­daughter, Stella. He is director of Global Automation and Robotics Solutions for Omnicell, Inc., a ­leading provider of patient-safety solutions for ­health-care facilities.

In 1996, Mullenger established his first named annual scholarship, and he remains a ­committed scholarship donor to this day. And just as his ­scholarship donor made time for him, Mullenger tries to connect and help ­Washington University students when he visits St. Louis or when an opportunity arises in the Bay Area. “Professors ­sometimes call me about graduate students who have started a company and need advice. I will meet the students in St. Louis or San Francisco, and I try to connect them with people who can help them,” he says. He gets to know his ­scholarship ­recipients as much as possible. “I used to run with one of my scholarship recipients in Forest Park early in the morning. Then we’d have breakfast and talk,” Mullenger says.

Mullenger has served as the chair of the ­Alumni Board of Governors since July 1, 2016. Not surprisingly, his volunteer roles with the ­university date back to his student days. As an undergraduate, he served as the president of his dorm and treasurer for Congress of the South 40. His senior year, he was asked to serve as the chair of the School of Engineering & Applied Science Senior Class Gift.

“After I graduated, it just ­continued. I have been involved with the Regional Cabinet, the ­William Greenleaf Eliot Society and several reunion committees. I have helped with Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University, and the list goes on.”

A university donor for 27 consecutive years, Mullenger has always been inspired to give back to the institution that taught him so much. “For me, it is the right combination: I had a great experience at WashU, I met wonderful people, and my commitment level has grown over time,” he says. “I have a lot of gratitude, and I continue to be inspired by my lifelong relationship with the university.”

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