Why it may not be the end for Mills College after all

Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Mills College may not have reached its end of life after all.

In a statement Thursday, Mills College President Elizabeth Hillman announced the college has begun formal discussions to consolidate with Northeastern University.

Per a pending agreement, the private women’s college would become gender inclusive at the undergraduate level.

The statement read in part:

Our goal is to combine our two institutions so that, together, we can expand Mills’ core strengths, including advancing student access, women’s leadership, equity, and social justice. This new alliance would allow for continued conferral of degrees on the Mills campus with the Mills name as part of those degrees; enhanced support for Mills’ current students, faculty, and staff; and the future development of new educational programs.

Mills College announced back in March it would stop accepting first-year students after fall 2021 and would most likely confer its final degrees in 2023, pending further consideration and action by the Board of Trustees.

As part of the anticipated alliance, Mills and Northeastern expect to complete the following, subject to continuing discussions and development of a finalized agreement:

  • Mills would become Mills College at Northeastern University. Though Mills would not be an independent, standalone institution, undergraduate and graduate degrees would be offered through a Mills College at Northeastern University. Mills would become gender inclusive at the undergraduate level.
  • Current Mills students will be able to complete their degrees at Mills or at Mills College at Northeastern University, depending on a student’s degree path and timing of the alliance. Prior to finalization of the alliance, Mills students would also have the possible option to transfer to Northeastern at no additional cost, based on individual degree paths, or to transfer to other universities with which Mills has negotiated transfer agreements. More information is expected to be available this fall regarding specific pathways.
  • Scholarship and financial aid commitments that Mills has made to current Mills College students would be honored by Mills College at Northeastern University. 
  • Subject to the results of collaborative efforts on academic program development that will be part of formal discussions, a significant number of Mills faculty and staff would be offered opportunities for continued employment either on the Mills campus at Northeastern University or at other Northeastern University campuses where their skills and experience would be aligned.
  • Northeastern understands the importance of Mills receiving financial support to cover its operating expenses and to enable Mills to offer compensation increases for staff and faculty members.
  • Northeastern would extend its tuition remission program, which covers tuition for employees and their eligible dependents who are admitted to Northeastern degree programs, to Mills employees.
  • In addition to Mills College at Northeastern University, Northeastern would support the launch of a Mills Institute or Center as a hub for research and advocacy to advance women’s leadership, educational access, social justice, and other causes embedded in the Mills mission and legacy.
  • Mills College alumnae could continue to participate in Mills College reunions and maintain access to the College’s Reinhardt Alumnae House on the Mills campus. They would be eligible to participate in an array of Northeastern alumni programs, such as reduced cost access to educational programs across Northeastern’s global network. 

“I look forward to realizing this opportunity in collaboration with the Mills community, and I deeply appreciate the support of everyone whose hard work has helped to make it possible,” Hillman said.

Founded in 1852 as the Young Ladies Seminary in Benicia, Mills was relocated to Oakland in 1871 and became the first women’s college west of the Rockies. The school provides undergraduate degrees for women and gender non-binary students as well as graduate programs for all genders.

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