Mills Professor Discusses the Benefit of Being a Department of One in the Chronicle of Higher Education

Oakland, CA—July 16, 2018

As small colleges across the country are making the decision to reduce the size of various departments, faculty members are finding themselves in a department of one.

“In sociology we had gotten down to very few positions. It’s hard to have a robust department with very few people, says Margaret Hunter associate provost and professor of sociology at Mills College. “It’s nice to have more colleagues, because academe can be kind of a lonely endeavor as it is."

However, according to a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, while those faculty members might not be on the cutting edge of research in their fields, they say they enjoy—and regularly learn from—working with campus colleagues from other disciplines.

In fact, the article further notes that conversations with small college faculty members suggest that they feel anything but isolated as scholars or teachers.

In Hunter’s case, her professional network outside of Mills keeps her up to date on her own field. But when she came to Mills 11 years ago, she says, she did not expect to learn so much from colleagues in fields like physical chemistry, paleo oceanography, or African politics. "I might not have even met them at a larger university."