Beyond the Classroom: Dr. Tony R. Mullis

Security Studies Director settles in to new position

By Aubree Bailey
On March 29, 2018

Photo by Brit Raley
Dr. Randy Mullis has lived around the United States and the world. Mullis enjoys spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren as well as his cats and dogs.


After an extensive career in the military, Dr. Tony R. “Randy” Mullis came to ASU this past fall to serve as rofessor, department chair and director of the Center for Security Studies. 

Before entering into the military, Mullis received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in history: “I got my undergrad degree from Auburn University in history and got my master’s from Virginia Tech.” 

After graduating, he enlisted as a navigator. 

“My wife and I moved up to Blackburn, Virginia, where her dad was in the Air Force,” Mullis said. “My dad was also part of the army, so those were big influences in my choice to go into the Airforce.”

Mullis eventually became an intel officer and served many different roles in various locations. 
“I had some great assignments like Hawaii, Korea, Colorado Springs and Scotland- I loved living there.” 

In 2002, Mullis obtained his doctorate in history from the University of Kansas. He retired from the military in 2005 but continued working as a civilian instructor before moving to Texas.

“I was in Alabama when I got the opportunity to come here. Some of the faculty in this department I had worked with in the military, and some, like Dr. Taylor, I met through history conferences, so I got to know the department quite well before coming here.”

Mullis is still settling in and said that he hasn’t been able to connect with students as much as would like.

“One thing I haven’t gotten to do a lot of since I’ve only been here since August is get into student involvement. A good chunk of what we teach is online, so I don’t get as much student contact as I like, but maybe after this year I can try to change that.”

Mullis said he enjoys many aspects and traditions of ASU.

“I do like the Thursday afternoon ice cream social. I like going to the theatre productions- for a school like ASU, it’s high-quality and high-caliber art and music.”

When asked what one of the most challenging parts of his new position is, Mullis said the uniqueness of the department he heads can bring some obstacles. 

“I think trying to take a creative division for a department that’s diverse. We have everything from criminal justice to homeland security; it’s challenging to create an image for a department that will promote steady growth and keep within ASU mission. Developing, creating and implementing a vision that is consistent with the university and with the state of Texas that meets with current and future national security is one of my main priorities.”

Mullis said students have made good impressions on him so far. 

“I’m very impressed with the caliber of students here. We produce products that are capable to serve in national security and in criminal justice.”

When he’s not working on campus, Mullis enjoys spending time with his family.

“My wife and I met at Auburn when we were juniors. We were married in 1981. We had three children, three boys. It’s been a journey being in the Air Force with children. Now, I have four grandchildren. We also have two dogs and two cats, Oliver and Rusky and Brechin and Shamus, respectively; they keep us busy when we don’t get to see our grandchildren.”

Mullis’ advice to students is all about passion. 

“It’s the same advice I got when I was a freshman: follow your passion. I had no intention to be a history major even though it was my passion. But once I got to my first history class and the passion kicked in I knew it was right. I can’t over-emphasize passion. It might not seem logical, but follow it.” 


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