Progress Toward a Mills College and Northeastern University Alliance

An upward view of the clock face and bells of El Campanil clock tower on the Mills College campus in Oakland, California.Oakland, CA—July 6, 2021
A Message from Mills President Elizabeth L. Hillman

Dear all,

I write to share our progress in exploring the potential of an alliance with Northeastern University. We will begin discussions between the Mills and Northeastern communities in the weeks ahead to identify educational opportunities that will continue Mills’ legacy and expand our commitment to gender and racial justice. Our discussions will center on the topics shared in our June 17 announcement to ensure that Mills’ mission, people, and campus thrive.

In addition to determining what Mills College at Northeastern University might become in terms of a shared academic vision, we are also focused on immediate ways we can support our current students, including:

  • Degree completion pathways;
  • Transfer opportunities to Northeastern or other institutions, including California-based institutions;
  • New scholarship funding to supplement existing financial aid; and
  • Access for Mills students to Northeastern experiential learning opportunities, including co-ops.

Our faculty are already engaged in conversations with Northeastern about a potential first-year program for 200 to 300 Northeastern students that would take place on the Mills campus during this upcoming academic year. This gender-inclusive program—which would replace the previously anticipated UC Berkeley Changemaker in Oakland program—would be taught by Mills faculty and would leverage Mills’ expertise in community-engaged learning, which aligns closely with the experiential approach that is the hallmark of a Northeastern education. We will also soon share an initial vision for the Mills Institute or Center, which is expected to serve as a hub of support for transformative teaching and learning, research, and career development for women, gender nonbinary individuals, and historically marginalized racial and ethnic communities. While details of its structure are yet to be developed, we anticipate it will offer research and learning programs focused on a number of areas, including transitional moments such as 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).

Given our progress toward an alliance with Northeastern University and our Board of Trustees’ support for further development of the alliance, we now feel confident in implementing soon a staff and faculty compensation plan that will be retroactive to July 1, 2021. This plan recognizes the hard work and commitment that staff and faculty have demonstrated by providing a 3% increase in pay and a 3% match to Mills’ 403(b) retirement plan contributions. We will communicate more about this soon, and we need to meet with the unions that represent some of Mills’ workforce, since they are important parties as we undertake this first across-the-board pay increase at Mills in many years.

We also feel confident we can fulfill many of the goals that our alumnae have raised about Mills through an alliance with Northeastern, including providing continued access to the Mills campus and Reinhardt Alumnae House as well as opportunities to offer ideas and input about the future of the College. We anticipate being able to offer all graduates of Mills College the opportunity to pursue advanced degrees or lifelong learning paths throughout the Northeastern network with the generous tuition discounts offered to all graduates of Northeastern University.

To facilitate the discussions that will enable Mills to realize these opportunities with Northeastern, we are creating a cross-functional institutional transition team. It will be chaired by Renée Jadushlever, vice president for strategic communications and operations, with Beth Kochly, associate provost for curriculum and academic resources and associate professor of chemistry, as vice chair. Issue-specific teams will be formed to focus on key operational areas that impact academic programs, student services, human resources, financial sustainability, and other critical functions. The chair will work with those teams to ensure we stay on track and coordinate with our Northeastern colleagues, and our new interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, Patricia L. Hardaway, will likewise be closely involved with the transition.

Over the summer months ahead, we will:

  1. Develop transition teams to offer input into the structure of the alliance and to identify key issues;
  2. Begin planning discussions between Mills and Northeastern faculty;
  3. Review operational strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities between Mills and Northeastern; and
  4. Develop a formal agreement for consideration by our governing boards.

We will share information soon regarding how the transition teams will be formed and how community members can provide input; many thanks to those of you who have already volunteered or offered ideas. Mills will regularly communicate on progress as appropriate to keep everyone informed and involved as the process unfolds.

Thank you for your continued support of Mills. We look forward to developing new ways of delivering a Mills education and exploring the exciting possibilities of an alliance with Northeastern University.

Elizabeth L. Hillman
President, Mills College

About Mills College
Located in Oakland, California, Mills is a nationally renowned independent liberal arts college for women and gender nonbinary students, with graduate programs for all genders. Ranked one of the top-tier regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report, Mills is also recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the Best 386 Colleges in the nation. As one of the most diverse liberal arts colleges in the country, Mills has a strong record of academic success with first-generation students, students of color, Latinx students, LGBTQ+ students, and other underrepresented students. The Mills experience is distinguished by small, interactive classes, one-on-one attention from exceptional faculty, a culture of creative experimentation, and cutting-edge interdisciplinary learning opportunities which empower students to make a statement in their careers and communities.

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Tami Kelly
Phone: 925.640.9997