Mills Inside & Out

Mills College
Presidential Communication
January 14, 2022

TO: Mills College Faculty and Staff
FROM: Beth Hillman
SUBJECT: Mills: Inside and Out

Dear all,

Next Monday's holiday celebrates Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I urge you to take time to reflect on the impact of our nation's civil rights leader and his call to service. The City of Oakland's MLK 40 Days of Service project honors Dr. King, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center works year-round to advance his legacy. The Freedom Center sponsors the Barbara Lee '73 and Elihu Harris Lecture Series, with an especially timely address on voting rights by the late Congressman John L. Lewis, delivered at Merritt College in 2014. Northeastern University has invited the Mills community to join a celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. King on January 18 at 3:00 pm ET that will be streamed on their Facebook page.

This week brought plenty of important news for Mills College. Our own Dr. Jenn Smith, a behavioral ecologist, was spotlighted in The New York Times. The article focuses on Dr. Smith's squirrel research, which has long been a highlight of the Jill Barrett Undergraduate Research Program in Biology, a signature Mills program that Jenn directs. It's given many young biologists an opportunity to learn, grow, and prepare for meaningful lives and careers. Kudos to Jenn and everyone who has supported her research and teaching at Mills!

This week brought more clarity to the state budget picture with respect to education, as the Governor revealed plans to send expansive new funding to California's public higher education system, made possible by a large state budget surplus. Mills and other independent non-profit colleges and universities continue to seek an increase in both state Cal Grants and federal Pell Grants, not least because the latest data from the National Student Clearinghouse reveals that student enrollment has not recovered from the toll of the pandemic. Our most vulnerable students, financially and otherwise, continue to be most at risk of being denied the opportunity to earn a degree. 

This week also closed out a painful chapter in Mills' history with the end of the lawsuit that the Alumnae Association of Mills College (AAMC) brought against the College seven months ago. I'm grateful to be moving ahead toward a successful merger of Mills College into Northeastern University and look forward to continuing to engage with Mills alums.

Please help us honor Dr. King's legacy of service by caring for yourselves and our health care workers by masking, distancing, encouraging vaccinations and boosters, and testing and isolating as appropriate. 

All best,