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Mills College Strategic Plan

Office of the President


Mills has been a place of education, aspiration, and transformation for 165 years. Its motto, Una destinatio, viae diversae (one destination, many paths), has set the tone for generations of students, from daughters of the Gold Rush era seeking a classical education to 21st-century students seeking careers and lives of impact.[1] MillsNext sets the stage for the next iteration of Mills, a version that will provide an accelerated, mentored educational journey that’s accessible, affordable, and life-changing for every Mills student.

Today, we find ourselves at a pivotal moment in our history, one that requires Mills to transform to address its financial challenges and chart a course for a sustainable future. Like so many colleges and universities across the country today—particularly small independent liberal arts colleges—Mills has faced financial challenges in recent years. Despite having worked diligently to control costs and diversify revenues, Mills has been unable to correct a very large imbalance in our finances. This has left us spending more than we earn each year, resulting in annual structural deficits. This document describes the MillsNext vision and the path to implementing it.

MillsNext: A Blueprint for Restructuring

MillsNext articulates the scope and goals of a Mills education. Mills will set a new standard for accessible, transformative paths through the liberal arts and into careers that change lives. MillsNext focuses on three priorities:

  • Academic excellence in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences, and technology,
  • Applied learning, global understanding, and real-world skills development, and
  • Gender and racial justice in academic programs and community engagement.

These priorities will allow Mills to revitalize its historic strength in the liberal arts and reorganize academic programs and co-curricular activities, bolster revenue streams and alliances, and plan and implement a set of initiatives to bring this vision to life.

MillsNext will serve as the basis for:

  • Re-drafting Mills’ mission statement
  • Building a “bridge” strategic plan
  • Refining academic and co-curricular programs
  • Pursuing institutional alliances
  • Growing alternative revenue streams
  • Investing in philanthropic outreach

A key component of MillsNext will be the creation and implementation of a bold new education experience that will bring additional women and gender-nonbinary undergraduate students to Mills. This signature experience will provide a life-changing education opportunity that is affordable and accessible for all students. Every learning pathway—whether it includes a major or double major, minor, or accelerated master's program—will provide students with the tools and confidence to solve complex problems, communicate across differences, and take action aimed at transforming their communities and the world.

The Path Forward

Taking into consideration the College’s projected $9.1 million deficit for next year, and the past and looming future financial deficits, the Mills College Board of Trustees has made a declaration of a financial emergency. That action authorizes adoption of a plan that will enable Mills to reduce its growing deficit and more quickly reorganize the college to meet the needs and interests of students. By declaring a financial emergency, the Board widens the options available to Mills as we work to stabilize our financial situation and move onto a path of forward momentum.

MillsNext will revitalize Mills’ historic strengths in the liberal arts through new emphases on science and technology, leadership and career development, and gender and racial justice. It will promote research, scholarly activity, and artistic creation within the context of students’ education and development. In order to bring this plan to life and achieve the goal of effecting financial stability in the near term, we are taking the following strategic steps:

  1. Implement a Financial Stabilization Plan (FSP) that will require a reduction in force (RIF) of approximately 30 to 35 staff and faculty positions. The FSP will establish a sustainable, equitable level of spending, drive efficiencies across the programs, and encourage cross-disciplinary and cross-department engagement of faculty and staff. We recognize and regret the potential impact of such reductions on the Mills community.
  2. Roll out a signature undergraduate experience now under development by the Provost team in partnership with faculty. It combines ongoing efforts—recent faculty innovations in the core curriculum, alignment of learning goals, development of the first-year experience, and integration of high impact practices—with proposed new initiatives, such as a universal study-away experience for sophomores, and enhanced technology education for all students. We are also studying the possibility of a tuition re-set that will help students and their families better understand the value and cost of a Mills education.
  3. Build institutional alliances with public and private partners in the arts, business and technology communities that allow Mills to leverage its superb location and campus to advance the academic excellence, career preparation, and values at the heart of MillsNext.
  4. Broaden our engagement across Mills’ constituencies—students, faculty, staff, trustees, graduates, community partners—in the planning of other key elements of MillsNext

Advancing the Legacy of Mills

This is an important turning point for Mills. The changes we make today will have a profound impact on our sustainability and growth. Mills has an enviable legacy of educating and graduating generations of bright, motivated and successful leaders who are leaving their mark in innumerable ways. Our remarkable accolades and achievements as an institution of higher education demonstrate that Mills has a vital place in the academic landscape. MillsNext will help us maintain our standing as a top choice for students, and a powerful launching pad for our graduates into their careers with the knowledge and leadership skills necessary to effect meaningful changes in a global society. We ask you to stand with Mills. Have faith in our future, and invest in the MillsNext vision.


[1] Rosalind A. Keep, Fourscore and Ten Years: A History of Mills College (Mills College: 1946); George Hedley, Aurelia Henry Reinhardt: Portrait of a Whole Woman (Mills College: 1961); Mills College 2016 web site.


Mills Commons meetings and relevant information

"Mills Commons" are a series of regular meetings held to bring staff and faculty together for an hour's discussion on topics relevant to the Mills community. The following materials, presented for discussion among Mills faculty and staff members over the last fiscal year, provide supporting data for the FSP and MillsNext. Please do not distribute these materials.

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Last Updated: 11/28/17