Mills College Announces Plans to End Degree Programs and Transition to an Academic Institute

In 2017, the board of trustees of Mills College, the liberal arts educational institution for women in Oakland, California, declared a financial emergency and called for a reduction in force of staff and faculty. A hiring freeze was put in place, contributions to faculty retirement plans were eliminated, faculty raises were deferred, and several academic programs were discontinued.

Later that year, the board cut the sticker price for admission by 36 percent. Tuition for the 2018-19 academic year was set at $28,765. In 2017, tuition was listed at $44,765, but the vast majority of students paid a discounted price.

But, these measures have failed to solve the college’s financial difficulties. Recently, the college announced that after fall 2021, Mills will no longer enroll new first-year undergraduate students.

In a letter to the campus community, Elizabeth Hillman, president of Mills College, said that “we will focus our resources on building degree pathways for our continuing students, and supporting the new first-year undergraduate, transfer, and graduate students who will join us this fall. Mills will most likely confer its final degrees in 2023.”

President Hillman cited the economic burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic, structural changes across higher education, and Mills’ declining enrollment and budget deficits as factors that forced the decision made by the board.

While the college may no longer award degrees, the board plans to continue to foster women’s leadership and student success, advance gender and racial equity, and cultivate innovative pedagogy, research, and critical thinking by creating a Mills Institute housed on campus. “Over the next few months, Mills faculty, trustees, staff, students, alumnae, and other stakeholders across our community will consider potential structures and programming for a Mills Institute. We will provide regular updates as the design of the Mills Institute evolves,” President Hillman said.

Mills College, founded in 1852, enrolls about 700 undergraduate students and nearly 400 graduate students according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Education.

Filed Under: NewsWomen's Colleges


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