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The Mulvaney Family

Former USD Professor’s Legacy of Service Inspires the Mulvaney Challenge

James F. Mulvaney Sr. (Nov. 2, 1922–Oct. 10, 2010) was a professor of corporations, uniform commercial code and jurisprudence in the School of Law from 1957 to 1963. But he was more than a professor, lawyer, a businessman and an officer in the Navy. He was a civic leader who dedicated his life to serving the community.

Locally, nationally and even internationally Jim Mulvaney made his mark through service. He believed in the vision of United Way and for more than 50 years was active at all levels of the organization. The United Way of San Diego County created the James F. Mulvaney Community Leadership Award in his honor in 2010.

Jim served all sectors of the San Diego community. He and his wife, Ruth, founded the San Diego chapter of the Alexis de Toqueville Society, which encourages philanthropic giving to the United Way. Some of his other community involvement included activity in:

  • COMBO, the longtime fundraising group for local arts groups
  • LEAD San Diego: President, 1985–1986
  • Mercy Hospital Foundation: Chairman of the Board, 1989–1991
  • Mingei International Museum: Chairman of the Board, 2000–2004
  • Old Globe Rebuilding Campaign: Chairman, 1978–1982
  • Rotary Club, San Diego: President, 1966–1967
  • San Diego Chamber of Commerce
  • San Diego Organizing Project: 1983–2010
  • St. Vincent DePaul: Charter Chairman of the Executive Committee, 1984–1989
  • United Way, San Diego: Chairman of the Board, 1976–1978
  • United Way, California: Chairman of the Board, 1988–1991
  • United Way, Western Region: Chairman of the Board, 1984–1993
  • United Way International: Chairman of the Board, 1991–1994
  • WorldSHARE: Director, 1986–1994


Throughout the years, Jim also continued to be a key figure at the University of San Diego. He was credited with establishing the Maudsley Fellows Society, which recognizes the School of Law’s most generous donors. He served on the College of Arts and Science’s Auxiliary Board in 1980 and on the School of Law’s Board of Visitors from 2001 to 2009.

Jim’s service on these and many other fronts didn’t go unnoticed. He received a lifetime of acheivements including:

  • Inaugural Spirit of Charity Award, Catholic Community Services
  • Brotherhood Award, National Conference of Christians and Jews
  • Morgan Award for Lifetime Achievement, LEAD San Diego
  • Citizen of the Year Award, Junior Chamber of Commerce and the City Club
  • Outstanding Service Award, San Diego Bar Association
  • Mr. San Diego, Gov. Pete Wilson

Tom and Karen Mulvaney are carrying on the legacy of Jim Mulvaney through their own committment to service and their generous matching efforts of up to $400,000 through the Mulvaney Challenge.

Several members of Jim Mulvaney's family are alumni of the School of Law, including son-in-law Jim McCabe ’71; sons Bob Mulvaney ’74 and Tom Mulvaney ’77; and daughter-in-law Jennifer Fehlman ’79. His grandson, Mason Mulvaney, earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from USD in 2009.