Strong Start To Finish

Dr. Christopher Mullin to lead Strong Start to Finish

Postsecondary network supports proven English and math practices to boost college graduation 

DENVER—Education Commission of the States (ECS), a national policy organization, announced today that Dr. Christopher Mullin will serve as director of its new Strong Start to Finish (SSTF) network.

Dr. Mullin previously served as the executive vice chancellor of the Florida College System, where he oversaw academic and student affairs, research and analytics, and financial policy for 28 institutions.

SSTF unites postsecondary leaders committed to changing institutional practice and policy across the nation and bringing equity to education. In his new role, Dr. Mullin will lead SSTF toward its goal of dramatically increasing the number of low-income students, students of color and returning adults who successfully complete math and English requirements in their first year of college and enter a program of study—a proven indicator for whether they will earn a degree, license or certificate with labor-market value.

“The experience Dr. Mullin brings in both college leadership and policy is precisely what we’re looking for as SSTF builds momentum. We are excited to see the directions he will take to help more students achieve long-term success,” said Brian Sponsler, vice president of policy at ECS.

In the coming months, SSTF will award multiple grants of up to $2.25 million to put proven education reforms into practice in key sites across the country. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates and the Kresge Foundation are providing initial funding.

Dr. Mullin brings over a decade of experience in postsecondary education and policy analysis to apply to his new position. He has served as the assistant vice chancellor for policy and research at the State University System of Florida and was program director for policy analysis of the American Association of Community Colleges. Before that, he worked for the Illinois Education Research Council.

"It is imperative that a greater number of students begin college with the support and direction they need," said Dr. Mullin. "SSTF’s charge is a great responsibility—and a privilege I wholeheartedly embrace."

"Given SSTF’s emphasis on amplifying proven reforms, it makes sense we’d choose a leader with a proven track record,” said Amy Kerwin, chair of the SSTF funder advisory board and vice president of community investments for Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates. “All of our partners will benefit from his leadership.”

See Dr. Mullin’s full bio.

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Chris Nelson
206-940-1605 (mobile)

About Strong Start to Finish

Strong Start to Finish is part of a growing network of higher education leaders and institutions, foundations and nonprofits pooling knowledge and funding to build a transformative framework for postsecondary education, ensuring millions of previously underserved students succeed in their first year of college and graduate career-ready.

The SSTF action plan: 

  • Expand the use of evidence-based practices in a set of states, postsecondary systems and metropolitan regions to help more students get off to a strong start.
  • Start in a few key areas, awarding competitive grants of up to $2.25 million to bring this knowledge to scale.
  • Learn together as we work, by systematically building and sharing knowledge.
  • Maximize philanthropic return on investment through innovative collaboration.