Mills College Officers

Chinyere Oparah
Chinyere Oparah, PhD
Provost and Dean of the Faculty

Chinyere Oparah began her tenure as Provost and Dean of the Faculty on January 1, 2017, after serving for almost twenty years on the Mills faculty.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, raised in the South of England and with roots in SE Nigeria, Oparah’s educational background includes the study of languages, literature, philosophy, sociology, ethnic studies and community development. She received her BA and MA in modern and medieval languages from Cambridge University, Postgraduate Diploma in community practice from Luton University, MA in race and ethnic studies from Warwick University, and PhD in sociology with a focus on black women’s civic engagement from Warwick University.

Oparah joined the Ethnic Studies Department at Mills in 1997, after a career in non-profit administration, which culminated in the directorship of Sia, a national development agency for black non-profit organizations based in London, England. For the past two decades, Oparah has provided leadership around social justice, inclusive excellence, retention, racial equity and trans inclusion at Mills. She has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching, student organization advising, and research. Oparah chaired the Ethnic Studies department for over a decade, co-created the Public Health and Health Equity program at Mills, and co-lead successful efforts to establish a Queer Studies program. Oparah has also served as Canada Research Chair in Social Justice at the University of Toronto, and has taught within the University of California system.

Prior to her appointment as Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Oparah served as Associate Provost at Mills. In this capacity, she oversaw curriculum, advising, student academic success and new faculty support programs, established a new retention committee, and helped to steer students and faculty through significant changes including credit conversion, the revision of a large segment of the curriculum and the introduction of a new core curriculum.

Oparah has edited and written numerous books, book chapters and journal articles. Her most recent co-edited book Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy and Childbirth is rapidly becoming a seminal text in university midwifery, reproductive health and women’s studies classrooms.

In her spare time, Oparah practices mindfulness meditation, hikes in the redwoods, participates in her faith community, and spends quality time with her partner and elementary school-aged daughter.