Photo Courtesy of Amanda Brault/Caslteton Spartan Thomas Mauhs-Pugh, the new provost at Castleton University, sits next to President Scolforo at convocation on Aug.29.
Thomas Mauhs-Pugh sat on the couch in his new office with a calm demeanor, yet he eagerly talked about why he is excited and fascinated by this new opportunity.
This year will be his first at Castleton University in the newly created position of provost.
Castleton is also starting its first year in a new three-college system and Mauhs-Pugh has become the chief academic officer in that system.
“I love the public mission of Castleton University, being oriented to serving the needs of Vermont, so I’m thrilled to be here,” he said with a smile.
Mauhs-Pugh joins Castleton after serving over 20 years at Green Mountain College, which closed last year due to financial reasons.
When he joined Green Mountain College in 1997, it was in a time of transformation. It was becoming a more sustainable and environmentally focused school, and Mauhs-Pugh was brought in to assist with that.
Now, with Castleton University in an unprecedented period of growth, he is ready for his new opportunity to help Castleton grow even more.
“Part of what I value is coming into a place and coming to understand it,” Mauhs-Pugh said. “And then to try to figure out how to best support it, how to best help that place realize that potential, which in a lot of ways is what education is.”
With a PhD in education, Mauhs-Pugh is fascinated in the complicated idea of education. He said that teachers engage with students, but each teacher and each student is different in terms of discipline, motivations and background. It is the teacher’s goal to bring out the most potential in the student, which he said is similar to his goal at Castleton.
“I’m not arriving trying to impose a predetermined vision of what Castleton University can be, I’m coming in to try and understand what it is and where there’s potential for growth and evolution and how to best support it,” he said.
And in this time of growth and new initiatives at Castleton, President Karen Scolforo said she knew that Mauhs-Pugh was the right fit for the new line of administration. She made the decision, with support from her cabinet and the chancellors, to appoint Mauhs-Pugh rather than doing a search process.
“To find the right expertise for the role is not easy, and we saw that in him,” Scolforo said.
During his time at Green Mountain College, Scolforo and the new provost had developed a working relationship. Mauhs-Pugh had attended Soundings and athletic events at Castleton before, and said he had a tremendous amount of respect for Castleton.
When he knew Green Mountain College was struggling financially, he worked with Scolforo and Dean Jonathan Spiro to try and find a place for Green Mountain students to go.
“I had a lot of interaction with both of those leaders, which just increased my admiration for Castleton even more,” he said.
Once everything had settled down at Green Mountain College, and students and faculty had found new places to go, he said Scolforo informed him that she may have a position for him at Castleton.
The new learning management system, which includes three new colleges, with the increasing growth of the university allowed for a new administrative position to open up, Scolforo said.
“It became very quickly clear that the best way to add academic capacity would be to add an administrator,” said Scolforo. “By doing that, we freed up our three deans to be able to better serve our faculty and our students.”
The new colleges include the College of Business, headed by Dean Cathy Kozlik, the College of Heath and Sciences, headed by Dean Peter Kimmel, and the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, headed by Spiro. Mauhs-Pugh, as Provost, will oversee these colleges.
The new system will allow for better focus on the academic programs within the colleges to continue to improve them.
“The deans of each of these colleges will have the authority and the autonomy to do some really cool innovative things within their colleges,” Scolforo said. “The key is going to be to look at interdisciplinary learning opportunities within the college and across college boundaries to continue to improve every one of our programs and make sure they are relevant and competitive in the workforce.”
Mauhs-Pugh is excited and ready to help bring out the most potential in Castleton and the new colleges system. But he is mostly excited to continue to learn and understand more about the university.
“I spent 21 years living within eight miles of Castleton University. I thought I had a pretty good handle on Castleton. I respected it a great deal. Being here, is eye-opening. It just, what an amazing place it is,” he said.