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Young Ladies Seminary

Founded in 1852 as the Young Ladies' Seminary in Benicia, California, Mills College boasts a rich history as a leader in women's education. Mills was founded two years after California was admitted to statehood and the same year the city of Oakland was established. The University of California and Stanford had yet to exist, and miners, farmers, and merchants wanted to educate their daughters without sending them on the perilous journey to East Coast schools.

A group of residents decided on an innovative solution by establishing the Young Ladies' Seminary in their own town. For two and a half years, the institutions' trustees managed the school until 1855, when management passed to Oberlin graduate Mary Atkins. Under Atkins' tenure, the school gained a strong reputation. With a vision of equal education and opportunity for women, missionaries Cyrus and Susan Mills bought the Seminary in 1865 for $5,000, renamed it Mills College, and moved it in 1871 to its current 135-acre oasis. At the time, Oakland was a bustling metropolis of about 10,000.

Presidents of Mills College

Mary Atkins

Mary Atkins
1855–1865
Principal, Young Ladies' Seminary

Homer Baxter Sprague

2. Homer Baxter Sprague
1885–1887

Susan Tolman Mills

4. Susan Tolman Mills
1890–1909

Aurelia Henry Reinhardt

6. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt
1916–1943

C. Easton Rothwell

8. C. Easton Rothwell
1959–1967

Barbara McClure White

10. Barbara McClure White
1976–1980

Janet L. Holmgren

12. Janet L. Holmgren
1991–2011

Cyrus Mills

1. Cyrus Taggart Mills
1865–1884

Charles Carroll Stratton

3. Charles Carroll Stratton
1887–1890

Luella Carson

5. Luella Clay Carson
1909–1914

Lynn Townsend White Jr.

7. Lynn Townsend White Jr.
1943–1958

Robert Joseph Wert

9. Robert Joseph Wert
1967–1976

Mary Metz

11. Mary S. Metz
1981–1990

 Alecia A. DeCoudreaux

13. Alecia A. DeCoudreaux
2011–





Last Updated: 8/19/11