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Mills sees another departure in the administration

Assistant Dean of Students and director of the student diversity
programs, Lisa S. McRipley, resigned from her position on Sept. 8,
causing students to reflect on where diversity stands at Mills.

In a post to student-news on Sept. 17, McRipley, who also held
the position of assistant director of Summer Academic Workshop,
informed students about her decision to leave Mills. She said her
decision is “due to the fact that I must complete my doctoral
degree requirements at the Univ. of Michigan.”

“I was told by my dissertation chair that he came upon the news
which let him know I need to finish by August of next year,”
McRipley said. “And so he said I need to make a change in my
schedule or in my life in order for that to happen. With careful
consideration I realized that in order for me to finish that goal,
which is a goal that I set for myself since 1996, that I needed to
take that step, so I will be a full time doctorate student.”

McRipley feels that she needs to obtain her PhD in order to hold
a position where her voice is heard.

“I want to use my voice in a senior position,” she said.

Senior Claudia Mercado feels that McRipley’s ability to help
students was limited in her position at Mills.

“Lisa was held back by the system and couldn’t take direct
action,” Mercado said. “There was the feeling of not wanting to
disturb the peace.”

At Mills, she said she was able to “help students use their
voices and [make] the campus their own, and form coalitions with
other students of color.”

“My wish for the women of color at Mills is for them not to put
barriers or obstacles on themselves, and to shoot for the stars,”
McRipley said.

After completing her PhD, McRipley plans to go back to a college
or university that has the same multicultural and diversity
emphasis as Mills.

Although students will miss her, many feel that what she is
doing will have a larger impact on students of color in the long

“I’m going to miss her, because she’s one of the only people
that care about diversity,” said sophomore Daisy Gonzales. “But at
the same time I feel like getting her dissertation is more
important then anything else. Not only is she doing this for
herself, but she’s also doing it for all women of color.”

McRipley ended her post on student-news, saying, “Always
remember race/class/sex/heterosex/ and able…ism exist but there’s
strength in unity…in solidarity.”

Many students are now reflecting on what the administration has
not addressed.

“We lack diversity, and there’s still racism,” Mercado said. “We
should take a look on how white supremacy exists at Mills, and we
should realize the social structure outside this gated

Senior Riana Shaw believes Mills tries to approach issues of
diversity but said, “the campus does the lip service to

“I want them to be very clear about the administration’s
commitment to diversity on campus and supporting the needs of women
of color,” said senior Ebony Cain. “It’s important for the college
to give [McRipley’s replacement] the financial support needed. They
also need to make sure there isn’t a high turnover rate. There
needs to be racial sensitivity for faculty and that is yet to

According to Senior Advisor to the President Hilda Hernández-Gravelle, “Diversity is
not just numerical factors, a part of it is, but in addition is
multicultural climate.”

Hernández-Gravelle who was recently appointed as Senior
Advisor to the President of the College and Acting Vice President
for Student Affairs, will offer the Office of Student Life

“I want to immediately have a person that the administration and
the students of color can work and engage with-it’s a top
priority,” Hernández-Gravelle said. “We haven’t put together
the requirements for the position, but we will ensure that the
person has the background of student life, [and] understands
diversity theoretically and operationally.”