Dr. Mike Salisbury has spent almost his entire adult life at Angelo State, and throughout that time his focus has remained firmly on positively influencing his students.
A native of Monahans, Salisbury first came to ASU as a student after being recruited during a 4-H livestock judging trip that stopped at the ASU Ranch to practice on the way to a state contest.
“Dave Cleavinger was the instructor, and he and I visited for a bit,” Salisbury said. “Then, he judged a show in my county during my senior year in high school. We reconnected and I came to ASU for a visit. He and some other faculty took me under their wing and showed me around. I ended up with a scholarship, and here I went.”
After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal science, Salisbury spent his only brief time away from ASU while he earned his Ph.D. at New Mexico State and then worked for a year at the University of Tennessee. But ASU soon lured him back in 2001 to join the faculty in the Agriculture Department.
“ASU felt like home from the beginning,” Salisbury said. “And the chance to have direct interaction with students and see them succeed through graduation and into careers, that’s what brought me back to ASU and got me to stay here for so long.”
After 18 years in the Agriculture Department, including seven as department chair, Salisbury became dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research. But a stint as interim dean of the Freshman College made him realize he missed the student interaction, so he transitioned to become the permanent dean and help every new freshman have a successful first year at ASU.
“I feel like we did some good things in the graduate school and made some changes to modernize some of the processes,” Salisbury said. “But you spend a lot of time reading proposals and working on programs, and there is not a lot of student interaction. Now, I get to rub elbows with about 2,500 students a semester, so that’s pretty cool.”
“You think you’re just doing your job and you don’t expect anything like this.”
Additionally, Salisbury also still teaches a class every semester, and he has been the faculty athletics representative since 2017, acting as a liaison between faculty and student-athletes.
For his long-standing and ongoing positive influence on generations of ASU students, the Alumni Association has honored Salisbury with its 2023 Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award.
“You think you’re just doing your job and you don’t expect anything like this,” he said. “It’s really humbling when you realize that other people may see you in a different light.”
Being in the Ram Family has also become a tradition for Salisbury’s family. His wife, Tara, has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ASU. Their son, Matthew, and his wife both graduated from ASU in 2021, and Mike and Tara’s twin daughters, Kimberly and Kelly, are ASU juniors this fall.