The news came as an abrupt announcement after 25 years of service and employment at the local private college.
“It was a [difficult decision to make]. I had been sensing there was something else I was supposed to do, you know, when I grow up,” Mauldin laughingly relayed in a recent sit-down interview. “This opportunity presented itself and I sensed there was a greater good there I could do.”
Church of God General Overseer Mark Williams contacted Mauldin two weeks ago during a meeting with the executive committee. Each committee member took a moment to tell Mauldin why he is an ideal fit for the director’s position. Mauldin was floored.
The committee members assured Mauldin of the prayer and thought behind the offer. He listened and said he would consider it. He picked up the phone once more as soon as the call ended.
“[I] called my mentor who is Dr. [Paul] Conn,” Mauldin said. “I asked him what he thought of it and he said if I turned it down, we would keep rolling, and if I accepted it, he would support me 100 percent.”
His wife, Tammie, was soon sought out for prayer and advice. The two “got away” to pray and seek the Lord’s will. They soon received an answer. Friends and associates provided numerous confirmations toward the directorship position.
Mauldin accepted the position within days of Williams’ phone call.
The new role will place about 200 children and a large number of employees under Mauldin’s leadership and care. Approximately 140 of the kids have been placed in foster homes near the children’s home. The remaining 60 students reside on the home’s site. Ten of the students have special needs and attend school on-site.
Mauldin plans to pull on his 25 years of experience at Lee University to meet the challenges of the new position.
He admits his roles at Lee have allowed him to explore most facets of the college — with the exception of business and finance.
He arrived on the campus in 1989 as the director of the Lee University Singers and as a full-time music professor. He continued to lead the choir group for 17 years, even as his other roles shifted and diversified.
He moved from his role as a professor to the director of Alumni Relations. He then served as the director of Graduate Studies, the dean of the School of Music and vice president of Student Life. He accepted his current position at Lee in 2010. The new role placed him in charge of athletics, campus ministries, campus recreation, campus safety and the dean of students office.
Mauldin enjoyed the change and appreciated the opportunity to receive a real overview of the university.
“If you had asked me 25 years ago, ‘Will you be the vice president for Administration?’ I would have said, ‘Not interested.’ I think as time evolves, you begin to sense a direction,” he said. “I think that is true in this role as director of the children’s home. If you had asked me 10 years ago, ‘Do you think you would ever do that?’ I would have said, ‘Are you kidding? No.’”
Now Mauldin finds himself ready for the opportunity.
“Anyone who knows me knows I have always been this way, but here I think it has just been ingrained even deeper through Dr. Conn’s leadership, and that is a sense of excellence in everything we do,” he said. “If we can’t do it with excellence, then let’s not do it; let’s set it aside.”
He said his leadership style has been positively affected by the mentorship of Conn. Mauldin said he will utilize the same tactics Conn used to build up the university in the Cleveland community at the children’s home in Sevierville. He will also be sure to apply the same attention to detail displayed by Lee University’s president.
“Some of my most rewarding times were working with Dr. Conn. He is the man of the hour. I will miss that aspect, but what I have learned from him, I take with me,” he said. “He has been supportive of me from day one — always has, always will be. I will miss the students. I will miss the interaction with them personally, but we’re hoping to get back on track with getting Lee University involved with the children’s home.”
Mauldin will begin his work at the children’s home the week of Aug. 10.