Professor MulHolland Changes Lives

English Professor Anthony MulHolland

By Ricardo Torres

He’s quirky, unpredictable, and marches to his own beat every day in the classroom at the College of Southern Nevada. Professor Anthony MulHolland teaches literature, mythology, and English courses, but he does much more than that. He changes the way his students think.

MulHolland’s classes follow unscripted themes that change each semester. For example, during the first day of a literature class earlier this year, without a word from the professor: lights went out, projector went on, and Clint Eastwood’s classic “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” played.

Initially met with a mixture of laughter, curiosity, and uncertainty from his students, he explained the theme of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” and related it to all human beings. He supported his claims with examples from literature and film.

During lectures MulHolland, at times, plays devil’s advocate. He engages his students with open-ended questions. It matters little if the students are shy or if their opinions differ from his own opinions.

“He will randomly ask a student a question pertaining to the subject and will at all costs expect an answer,” says Michelle Guzman, a student at CSN.

His free-spirited philosophy has shaped over his 30-year teaching career. When asked what he is most passionate about, he responds, “People!”

Originally from San Francisco his unpredictable spirit took him to cities all across the country from Hollywood to Washington D.C.

MulHolland eventually landed at CSN in 2001.

“It wasn’t a straight line,” says MulHolland, when thinking about his profession. “It’s like a labyrinth. You’re going around left and right, and then this way doesn’t work. Then, you go the other way and that doesn’t work. You just keep going until finally the pathway opens.”  His pathway opened when he started to teach.

MulHolland’s passion for teaching stemmed from a book he read as a young boy: “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach. It was given to him by his mother.

“Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight–how to get from shore to food and back again,” writes author Richard Bach in this allegory about a unique bird named Jonathan Livingston Seagull. “For most gulls it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight.” The messages of purpose, adventure, and destiny resonated with MulHolland. He passes that on to his students.

MulHolland’s life has been a winding labyrinth, which has inspired his teaching style. Students never know what to expect.

“Professor MulHolland makes you think outside the box by breaking stereotypes, by talking about things most people will not,” Guzman says. “His class helped me understand people and accept people for what they are.”

Professor Levia Hayes, chair of the English department, worked with MulHolland for 12 years. “I have to say that Anthony offers some unique viewpoints. He believes in empowering students through writing, which ultimately helps them to be more successful students overall.”

MulHolland’s personality shines through in his classes and also in his wardrobe.

He will wear a suit with unexpected shoes or a vibrant lime-green sweater and a hat. His eclectic style is part of his fun persona.

MulHolland says that the clothing one wears, “Should make you kind of go aha.” He explains, “I think of a little kid eating ice cream or unwrapping a present—  just so happy— and when you put on your clothes, that’s how it should make you feel. If your body is stiff, it’s going to make your mind stiff.”

When the course is finished, students tend to be more enlightened. “Near end of the semester…something has dawned on them that makes them say, ‘oh, I get it’,” MulHolland says.

When asked what kept him teaching all these years, he responds, “All the seagulls.”

%d bloggers like this: