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DBA Program Director and Family Establish DEI Scholarship to Honor Father

Mullarkey scholarship reception group photo

By Elizabeth L. Brown

TAMPA (January 28, 2022) – Throughout his life, USF faculty member Matt Mullarkey had a front-row seat to his father’s grit and perseverance.

At age 8, Jerome E. Mullarkey contracted polio. The debilitating disease left him paralyzed for a time. But through sheer will and persistence, Jerome Mullarkey largely recovered but faced continued physical challenges through his life. The USF alumnus didn’t let adversity stop him; he became an aerospace engineer working on missile and Apollo mission guidance systems.

“He taught and lives a life of compassion and caring for all,” said Matt Mullarkey, director of the Doctor of Business Administration program at the USF Muma College of Business.

To honor his father’s determination in overcoming obstacles and commitment to education, Mullarkey recently established the Jerome E. Mullarkey DEI Annual Student Scholarship through the USF Foundation.

During a Jan. 28 ceremony announcing the scholarship, Mullarkey thanked his dad for being the inspiration for the scholarship.

"The hardest times in my life…I thought about all the things you overcame, physically, and the drive and persistence and grit that you have, and it made it easy for me,” Mullarkey told his dad.

mullarkey scholarshiop reception

The endowed diversity, equity and inclusion scholarship would award up to five individual $1,000 scholarships each fall to a USF Muma College of Business student who is disadvantaged by any number of circumstances, including social, economic, physical, mental, or racial barriers.

Mullarkey hopes the scholarship will be a “hand-up” to deserving students who need a modest financial boost to close the gap for school and life expenses while attending the university. Mullarkey’s experience as the former chair of an Urban League affiliate in Ohio gave him a firsthand view that every gift to a vulnerable individual matters. This is where a $1,000 grant to a student might make the biggest difference, he said.

“We know that the most deserving students will come with many diverse sets of challenges. Our family, with our dad’s inspiration, is honored to make a small difference in the lives of this vulnerable student population so critical to the diversity, equity and inclusion values of the USF Muma College of Business,” said Mullarkey, who is also an associate professor of instruction in the School of Information Systems and Management.

Mullarkey said his father, who graduated with a master’s degree in management from USF, has always valued education. Even in retirement, his dad volunteered to teach and mentor young college students struggling with math at St. Petersburg College.

Mullarkey, who is an Airborne Ranger-qualified veteran of the U.S. Army, said his dad’s example inspired him to overcome physical obstacles he has faced throughout his life, including his recovery from a devastating bicycle crash just four years ago.

mullarkey scholarship reception

And he hopes, through this scholarship, students will also find that same inspiration.

“Maybe it’s just a start, but it’s a small start for a great cause with a great example to follow,” Mullarkey said.