Mills Institute


Building on the legacy of Mills College, the Mills Institute strives to meet changing educational needs in higher education, with particular commitment to gender and racial justice and the advancement of women, gender nonbinary individuals, and communities of color.


The Mills Institute is committed to the advancement of gender and racial justice through programs and partnerships that support transformative teaching and learning; research; and career development for women, gender nonbinary individuals, and historically marginalized racial and ethnic communities.


While in its early stages of development, the Mills Institute is expected to be led by an executive director who will collaborate with an advisory board and a leadership council including local Oakland leaders and the broader Bay Area, as well as national experts in women's leadership and gender and racial justice. In addition to generous funding to launch the Mills Institute, Northeastern University will also provide support for the infrastructure required to build and launch a successful institute.

View the job description for the executive director position

Program Types

The Mills Institute will offer a variety of program types, including, but not limited to, non-revenue-generating programs, revenue-generating programs, and certificate-bearing and licensing programs. The Institute will offer certain programs at a subsidized rate for participants. In addition, Mills and Northeastern University alumnae/i will be eligible for participation in programs at a reduced rate.


Program development will coincide with the transition process for the merger. Academic program planning for both undergraduate and graduate degrees is underway, and this work will inform the development of programming for the Institute.

The Institute is expected to offer research and learning programs focused on transitional moments: from high school to college, from college to advanced study or career, from one career to another, or into any form of leadership (community, workplace, or organizational). Programs will connect research and practice for teachers and students concerning topics such as effective pedagogies, high-impact teaching practices, community service learning, experiential learning, and internships. Programs may also be developed to support community-based participatory research in partnership with local nonprofit organizations, geared to effect policy and practice. Additional programs may be offered to support lifelong learning, with an emphasis on gender and racial justice.

On its own and in partnership with colleges, universities, and other nonprofit organizations with similar missions, the Institute may offer short- and longer-term programs such as summer camps, seminars, and courses that combine classroom experience with community engagement. In future, the Institute may organize conferences to bring together scholars, students, and other experts on topics related to the mission.

In spring 2020, Mills faculty, staff, students, alumnae, trustees, and local community members participated in idea generation sessions to provide input into the potential programming that the Mills Institute could develop:

  • A STEAM gap year (STEM fields and the arts) for students from Oakland high schools that are unable to offer college preparatory courses. Academic work along with mentoring by faculty and community leaders will help students become competitive for college admission.
  • Summer boot camps on the Mills campus for young women and nonbinary individuals to develop skills and creativity through coding, painting, photography, or community organizing.
  • Intensive courses in financial literacy or in ethics and technology for all ages.
  • A six-week intensive program for women, nonbinary, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ individuals to advance their careers in business.
  • Online and on-campus enrichment programs for alums to learn a new field or refresh their knowledge.
  • Sponsored research programs for teachers at all levels on high-impact pedagogical practices that engage students more deeply in their own learning.

While these program ideas are preliminary in nature, we will be updating this page with the latest developments for the Mills Institute as it moves forward in alignment with the transition workstream process. Please check this page for the latest information as we build a strong entity that will support the legacy of Mills College.

Mills College Quarterly

Mills Institute Featured in the Quarterly

In the winter Quarterly alumnae magazine, Professor Ajuan Mance and Trustee Marilyn Schuster ’65 discuss the work done to date on the Mills Institute and the plans for future development.

Read the Mills Quarterly article.