Mills College’s Proposed Merger With Northeastern University Hits a Roadblock

In March 2021, Mills College, a liberal arts educational institution for women in Oakland, California, that was founded in 1852, announced plans to end degree programs and transition to an academic institute. (See WIAReport post.) The college has faced financial difficulties for several years, had cut several academic programs, and deferred faculty salary increases. In 2018, the college cut tuition in half.

This past June, Northeastern Univerity in Boston stepped in with a new proposal that would maintain Mills College as a degree-granting institution under the global umbrella of Northeastern University. Under the proposal, the granting of degrees on the Mills campus under the name Mills College at Northeastern University would be maintained. Under the proposal, all students currently enrolled at Mills College would have the option to continue and graduate from Mills or apply to transfer to Northeastern at no additional cost. All existing financial aid commitments made to current Mills’ students would be honored by Northeastern. Northeastern also stated that it would establish the  Mills Institute, a hub for research and advocacy that would advance women’s leadership, equity, inclusion, and social justice. The undergraduate college would admit both men and women.

Tara Singh, a former member of the school’s board of trustees, and Viji Nakka-Cammauf, a current trustee and president of the Alumnae Association of Mills College, filed a motion in Alameda County Superior Court, seeking access to information regarding the true financial situation at the college. Nakka-Cammauf, alleges that she had not been given a full financial disclosure that would have enabled her to make an informed decision about the merger. A judge has now issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting any action on the merger until a hearing can be held on August 16.

The Save Mills College Coalition, a group of students, faculty, alumnae, and other friends of the college contends that the college has the resources to continue operations without the merger.

Filed Under: NewsWomen's Colleges


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