And the winner is…

By Laura Andersen, LeadingX2

If you are reading this email, you know Dan Mulhern. Well, maybe you know Danno, First Gentleman of Michigan, Dan the Man, so-and-so’s father/brother/spouse/son/friend, or just Mulhern. However you know this guy, today I invite you to celebrate him as Professor Mulhern, Distinguished Teaching Fellow at one of the best business schools in the world.

Out of over 250 professors and lecturers, the Berkeley Haas undergraduates chose Professor Mulhern for the Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching this academic year. The online academic year. The online for the first time in his Baby Boomer life academic year. Amazing!

While it is actually the second time that Dan has won the Cheit Award, this year feels special. This award comes after a year of adaptation and Zoom straining to fully “show up” for his students – from his head to his collarbones – and be an excellent online professor.

To quote Dr. Maya Angelou, I’ve learned that ‘making a living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life.’ Dan has made a living in public service and teaching, but he has made a life of showing up. Whether it is to listen, counsel, affirm, teach, learn or re-engage in a courageous conversation, Dan is motivated by love to be there and stay there for those around him. His presence as a professor is no exception. In the words a few of the students who nominated Dan:

  • “Dan involved me in several research opportunities after knowing about my experience in Data Science, and I find that he constantly does this with others to provide them opportunities through him and his connections.”
  • “Most of all, I consider Dan to be a mentor, spiritual guide, and genuine friend. Some time ago, my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and was sent to the emergency room. With my family frozen in turmoil, I wrote an email to Dan asking for advice. He replied promptly, setting up a call offering advice on how I can employ leadership to guide my family through this turbulent time. It is with this in mind that I believe that Dan is an invaluable asset among the Haas community and my highest recommendation for this award.”
  • “Even though he doesn’t have to, [Dan] sets up weekly check-ins with international students to make sure that he is well-acquainted with the class.”

In response to the announcement, Senior Assistant Dean of Instruction Jay Stowsky chimed in: “Dan is a uniquely qualified person to teach leadership at Haas, because he so deeply embodies the defining leadership principles that characterize the particular style of leadership we intend to model: curious, prepared, humble, empathetic. Today’s students connect best with, and learn the most from, faculty members who care about nurturing each individual student’s innate capacity to imagine a better future, to repair the world. Dan demonstrates that care in every session of every class he teaches.”

We have shared a long year of collective struggle and suffering on many levels. Amidst that, I invite you to take a minute to honor the incredible effort Dan put in and the impact it’s had on the UC Berkeley community. Spend a joyful moment sharing the students’ gratitude for his loving, embodied leadership through a challenging year. 

A huge congratulations, Professor Mulhern!

Of course, you don’t have to stop there: do YOU know someone who strives to make a life? How can you let them know that you see their care, effort and impact? 

Don’t hold back! Words of affirmation and encouragement are a gift that is always available to give as you…

Lead with your best self. 


PS Of course, if the person who came to mind was Professor Mulhern, Dan, Danno, First Gentleman, so-and-so’s father/ brother/ spouse/ son/ friend, or just Mulhern, please join the celebration in the comments below. We would love to hear your stories. 🙂 

  • Congratulations Dan! So well deserved, and I am not surprised (but I’ll bet you were). Here’s to more leaders like you!

  • Congratulations Dan–well deserved I am sure. As Covid drags on and on and exhaustion continues, I wish you the energy and insight to lead amongst it all. All the best–you are a gift to many.

  • WooWoo, Mulhern! Way to go! So good to celebrate the person you are, Dan. It’s what we appreciate most about you – your commitment to “showing up” with your best self everyday (even when it ain’t easy!) You have gone past “the talk” and delivered in your “walk.” You are a student, a leader, a mentor, a friend…a good man. I am so blessed to have you (and yours) braided into the fabric of my life.
    Well done and richly deserved, Professor!

  • Congrats, Dan! Though our politics don’t align, I’ve always welcomed your thoughts on various issues. If you recall, my former secretary in the Michigan Dept of Career Development, Oralya G, worked for you in various capacities when you were First Gentleman. Thanks for providing her with a wonderful experience.
    On another note, I helped develop and was the first full-time teacher of a new course at Berkeley High School called Social Living back in the late 1960s. A CA colleague and I would like to update the course and get it going again in the Bay Area and throughout the state. We would train the teachers and provide the unit plans after consulting with the pertinent social service agencies. Your suggestions welcome. Here’s the link to an op-ed I wrote that advocated providing such a course n my county in No. Virginia

  • I first knew of Dan when our daughter could not stop talking about how much she loved his class at Cal. Next term, she served as his assistant. After she graduated, they kept in touch, which made me feel my girl was just a little bit safer in the adult world. And in October 2019, she and her partner exchanged wedding vows in a sanctuary of majestic redwood trees with Dan as officiant. He has shaped who our daughter has become in so many ways, and this award is evidence that she is not the only young person to have benefitted from his skills and heart. Congratulations and love to you, Dan. Emily and Steve

  • I met Dan as First Gentleman and quickly understood he had wisdom to share. I was fortunate to lead a team under his guidance to provide State of Michigan employees with a vision and values for their work; and most importantly feedback from their staff, peers and customers. An amazing project that was meaningful and important. Following Dan’s contributions over the years confirmed that he continues to learn and grow from life, and has consistently walked his message ~~ lead with your best self. Congratulations on a well deserved honor!

  • Congratulations, Dan! I was so delighted to hear about your winning the the Cheit Award. You are the kind of person who makes me happy to be happy for you. No wonder Berkley has such a great reputation. The students are clearly intelligent, perceptive, appreciative, and able to identify superior quality. I thank your students for inviting us to send our congratulations to you and by so doing, reconnect briefly. It’s a rare gift to have your life touched by someone who is both powerfully inspirational and just a very friendly guy. Thank you for always showing us your best self.

  • Wonderful to see Dan’s great talent and generosity being recognized. I feel fortunate to call him a friend since circa 1990, during which time his skills as a point guard in a weekly basketball game in a Catholic grade school gym were much more renowned than his accomplishments as a b-school leadership guru. But equally impressive. Congrats!!

  • I’ve known Dan since 1989, when his wife, Jennifer, my then co-worker at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, brought us together to play basketball. As I recall it, Dan was a fierce competitor and was most unhappy with my refusal to acknowledge that I kicked the ball out of bounds (which would have resulted in my turning the ball over to his team). A few fiery words were sent my way and we kept on playing. Dan came up to me after the game, in an earnest and caring attempt to make sure all was good with us. It was, and it is. I don’t recall the outcome but I’m guessing his team won (he was better at basketball than me…)! From that moment forward, I knew Dan Mulhern would be one of my favorites. His passion for EVERYTHING he does – from playing (and competing in!) sports and all forms of games, to doggedly laughing, loving, and dialoguing with all who meet him – makes him a true blessing to me and so many! You are a gem, Dan – Congratulations on the Cheit Award!!

  • I like the sentence where it says Dan wants to be well acquainted with the class. Who you are teaching, or leading, (teaching is leading) depends on a good understanding of the person or persons being lead. This is a highly detailed approach, which acknowledges that we all communicate differently, and have different ways of understanding. Do not see this happen much beyond grade school. This is a lesson for all leaders, whether they practice as teachers of otherwise.

  • Dan walks the talk, doesn’t he? He’s one of the best listeners I know. He doesn’t just give us time to share, but he intently digests what we’re saying and responds with a compassionate word or probing question. He’s not afraid to show us his vulnerability. He doesn’t put himself on a pedestal, he’s one of us, with all of our warts. He is a continual learner – about people, about organizations, about the field of leadership, about the world around him, and, perhaps most important, about himself. Dan, you’ve been an amazing friend, coach and role model (I’m sure this makes you feel uncomfortable!). It comes as no surprise that your students hold you in such high regard and you received this honor. Congratulations!

  • I have known of Professor Mulhern since his wife Jennifer was governor of Michigan. She was one of my favorites. The family sent a Christmas card after her first win. I must have been on the mailing list because I sent a donation. The photo is of the entire family(including the dog) dresses in black & white holding red mittens. I treasure that card because of the spirit it embodies….proud to be from Michigan & fun. Thank you for that moment in time.
    Sally Berlin
    Traverse City

  • I know of no one more sincere. As someone commented, he consistently walks his message. He makes our family proud, and we are not surprised by this honor.

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