A top N.C. State University official is stepping down after posting critical tweets about Republicans.
Mike Mullen, N.C. State’s dean for academic and student affairs since 2012, resigned that position Thursday afternoon. However, he will remain on as a professor.
The announcement Thursday didn’t say why Mullen resigned. But it came hours after an N.C. State student who has been active in conservative politics wrote that Mullen’s tweets made him and other conservative students feel alienated.
In an April 15, 2018, tweet, according to screenshots shared by critics, Mullen replied to the conservative activist Charlie Kirk and said that “But, now the GOP is the party of the NRA, neo-Nazis, the KKK, and all manner of Alt-right crazies. You have betrayed your history.”
On Thursday, N.C. State senior Luke Stancil, who has worked for several Republican political campaigns, wrote about that tweet and others in a blog post for the conservative website The College Fix.
“It’s hypocritical for him to preach for an inclusive environment and also to effectively call students who are Republicans neo-Nazis and members of the klan,” Stancil wrote. “His intention may not have been to alienate conservative students, but it is the result of his actions. I certainly feel this way.”
Mullen, who earns an annual salary of $283,206, is a professor in the university’s crop sciences department in addition to his job as a dean and vice chancellor. He did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
On Thursday, Stancil told The News & Observer he thinks Mullen shouldn’t remain on campus at all, even if he will no longer be one of the school’s top administrators.
“He deserves to be fired for his actions,” Stancil said. “I wonder if a student with a MAGA that attends his class, if they will feel given his record that he will grade them fairly.”
Mullen has since deleted his Twitter account, so The News & Observer couldn’t verify all of the tweets shown in screenshots. But it’s not just recently that some students have been describing and criticizing his tweets.
In a Nov. 10, 2018, opinion piece for the student newspaper, The Technician, one student wrote that Mullen had recently tweeted: “Sitting in the Renaissance lounge, working, listening to three redneck businessmen discussing democratic mobs and violence. Lots of coded language. #bloodboiling”
That student, Jacob Trubey, wrote that many N.C. State students come from rural areas and may take the dismissal of rednecks as a personal affront — especially given the school’s focus on farming and other agricultural pursuits.
“When university administrators use terms such as ‘redneck,’ it undermines not only NC State’s student population, but the very history of our institution,” he wrote.
The day the Technician article ran, Mullen tweeted: “Yesterday I tweeted a message that has, rightfully, resulted in many pushing back. I believe my track record on respect for others speaks for itself, but unfortunately, I did not live up to that record yesterday.”
In a written statement, a university spokesman said Mullen’s last day as dean will be Friday and that an interim replacement will be announced soon. Classes at NC State start next Wednesday, Aug. 21.