Kay Mueller, Senior Lecturer In Sociology: faculty profile

July 17, 2002

Books and class projects spill from shelves and chairs. Artifacts and artwork from exotic lands spread across the walls. Kay Mueller's office, a veritable hodgepodge of belongings, is a place she wants students to feel comfortable visiting. Apparently, they do. 
Truth be told, there are so many students who want to visit with Mueller that she jokingly compares her office to a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store: Take a number and wait in line. 
Mueller, a Baylor alumna and senior lecturer in sociology who has been teaching here since 1977, is a whirlwind of warmth and activity. Her passions are family and teaching, but it's her love of students that drives how she spends much of her time and energy. 
"We are encouraged to provide unique opportunities for faculty-student exchange, to develop relationships with our students, not only academically, but professionally," says Mueller, who teaches more than 200 students each semester. "Some of the extras that I offer are a way to personally reach some of those goals."
These "extras" include flexible office hours, which Mueller continually adapts to make it easier for students to visit. Last fall, she added late afternoon appointments for students to walk and talk with her on campus. Perhaps most popular, however, are her "Midnight Madness" office hours. At least three times a semester, she gives her students the opportunity to schedule time with her well into the night, with midnight as the last appointment. She never lacks company.
"The record has been set -- 3:30 a.m.," she says of one student visit. "Fortunately for me, I don't need a lot of sleep, and I'm married to a wonderful man who doesn't need a lot of sleep."
In approximately 17 years of scheduling late-night office hours, Mueller says she rarely is surprised by which students choose to take her up on her offer -- except maybe once. 
One student showed up for his appointment and, to her dismay, Mueller realized she didn't recognize him, even though the semester was almost over. 
"I looked at him and said, 'I'm so sorry, but I just can't picture where you sit in my classes,'" she recalls. "And he said, 'Oh, I'm not in your class. I just needed to talk to someone.'"