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Mills future looks bright

Mills College Weekly

Mills needs to be bigger and better. That was the theme behind the state of college address delivered by President Janet Holmgren last Tuesday afternoon.

The speech highlighted the school’s high enrollment, newly instated strategic planning committee and the $73 million raised for the capital campaign as accomplishments for the Mills community to be proud of.

According to Holmgren, fall 2002 has brought a record-breaking enrollment. More than 1206 students are enrolled this semester. There are 760 undergraduates and 440 graduate students. Holmgren boasted of having to cap enrollment in a number of graduate programs.

“We have a small entering graduate program due to a strong return of graduate students,” said Holmgren. “Mills is now able to be more selective.”

To many students the increase in enrollment is a positive step for Mills.

“Last year I heard about how low enrollment was and the problems we had with retention,” said ASMC president Michele Roberts. “That was a big concern. I’m really excited about the increase in enrollment. We’re on an upward swing.”

“It’s positive,” said junior Sunshine Ludder. “It’s important to have students to support campus events but at the same time under a thousand is still small.”

For Holmgren, the increase said a lot about the future of the college.

“This is really exciting,” Holmgren said. “This tells us who we are and where we are headed. Additionally enrollment for first year students is also on the rise.

According to Holmgren enrollment is the highest it has been in a very long time, with 137 freshwomen from 27 states and three countries.

To date, the college has the best retention ever in both undergrads and graduate students.

Another element that is helping mills on its way to being bigger and better is the newly launched Strategic Planning Committee.

Launched last spring, the committee’s plans out Mills’ future plans: majors to be offered and presentation of the college to the public. In addition the committee sets enrollment goals and helps decide where money should be allocated to best help the college in the future.

According to Holmgren the committees will take steps to unify Mills with a clearer and stronger focus.

A commitment to academic creativity, to multiculturalism and advancing women in society were some of the strategies the committee plans to focus on to bring Mills into the year 2007.

“These are important qualities that stand in our minds as representative of Mills past and future, to make up cutting-edge knowledge and cutting edge endeavors,” Holmgren said.

There was also good news when it came to school’s operating budget.

The budget has gone from $7.5 million to 8.2 million said Holmgren.

This increase of over $1 million dollars has helped to support financial aid for students and last Mays’ 3 percent salary increase.

Mills Capital Campaign appears to be strong with donations of close to a million from Mills’ alums and $73 million dollars raised overall. Most of the funds go toward program development, faculty salary and financial aid.