Dr. Christopher M. Mullin


Strong Start to Finish (SSTF)

Dr. Christopher M. Mullin


Strong Start to Finish (SSTF)

Dr. Christopher M. Mullin serves as Director of Strong Start to Finish, an initiative of the Education Commission of the States. In this role, he leads an emerging network of committed postsecondary leaders and philanthropists, working together to recalibrate institutional practice and rewrite policy across the nation and bring equity to education by significantly increasing the number and proportion of low-income students, students of color and returning adults who succeed in college math and English and enter a program of study in their first year of college.

Prior to serving in this role, Chris was the executive vice chancellor of the Florida College System, where he oversaw academic and student affairs, research and analytics, and financial policy; as the assistant vice chancellor for policy and research at the State University System of Florida, Board of Governors, where he provided leadership and direction regarding academic and student affairs policies and programs, strategic planning, research, analysis, and special projects in support of 12 universities; and as the program director for policy analysis of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) in Washington, DC. Before that, he worked for the Illinois Education Research Council, an entity statutorily charged with providing policy research for the state's P-20 Council. Chris has taught at the early childhood, elementary, middle and high school levels, and at four universities. He continues to serve as a guest lecturer at institutions across the country.

A prolific researcher and writer, Chris has co-authored books, journal articles, and policy briefs on the influence of state P-20 education structures on the educational decisions of both institutions and individuals. His work has been reported on in The Wall Street Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education and EdWeek among others.

He earned his doctoral degree in higher education administration, as well as his bachelor’s degree, from the University of Florida. He also holds a master of education degree from Teachers College of Columbia University.

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15 to Finish

Boost the number of students who are on track for on-time graduation by encouraging enrollment in 15 credits each semester (30 credits per year, including summers). Financial aid dollars, as well as institutional process and practice, should support that standard.

Math Pathways

Ensure all students enroll in and complete gateway math in their first year by designing math courses that are aligned with the skills students need for their chosen program of study.

Corequisite Support

Increase gateway course completion within the first year by enrolling entering students into the college-level math and English courses, providing those who need additional help a concurrent course or lab that offers just-in-time academic support.

Momentum Year

Build momentum so students meet first-year benchmarks: informed choice of meta major or major, enrollment in 30 credits with nine in the program of study and completion of gateway courses. Provide early support and guidance for decision making, using interest assessments and labor-market data.

Academic Maps with Proactive Advising

Default students onto highly-structured academic maps that include 15 credits per semester (or 30 per year), indicate milestone and pre-requisite courses, and empower advisors to effectively monitor progress and provide intervention as needed.

A Better Deal for Returning Adults

Increase degree attainment by inviting adult learners back to complete their education, providing a redesigned system that offers accelerated courses, year-round enrollment and predictable schedules. Give credit for prior learning and experience and additional support to help students navigate the system.

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