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President Holmgren recognized by national award

Bonne Marie Bautista

President Janet L. Holmgren received an award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, CASE, in recognition of her achievements in the field of higher education.

According to an Oct. 15 Mills College press release to the Mills community, President Holmgren “was honored for her exceptional contributions to the College and its communities, her success in promoting public understanding of education and her significant support of Mills advancement initiatives.”

The Chief Executive Officer Leadership Award is given annually to a president, chancellor or other campus chief executive officer who is a CASE member and who has demonstrated superior efforts to fund and support education.

As president, Holmgren said that she is only as strong as the institution she leads and that the win was a result of collective efforts by the entire college. “I [am] very proud of Mills,” she said. “This is an institutional accomplishment, not an individual one. I accept this award on behalf of our whole community.”

President Holmgren, who has served for sixteen years as the eleventh president of Mills College , said that receiving theaward built her confidence and had allowed her to see just how much the College has accomplished.She feels that, as the president of an institution, receiving an award that is partially based on funding achievements reveals much about the College’s vision.

“It means that I’ve been able to articulate that vision and engage our community in supporting it,” Holmgren said.

According to an Oct. 24 article from the San Francisco Business Times, CASE focuses on fundraising achievement and Mills raised $132 million in the sesquicentennial fundraising campaign, surpassing their original goal of $1 million.

“It is difficult for us as students to know exactly how [President Holmgren] impacts our Mills experience in a positive way because we cannot follow her around for a week and experience this first hand,” said Student Body President Alexandra Widmann, a senior.

“I do think her devotion to Mills and the students is evident in how much she promotes women’s education on and off-campus,” she added.

Widmann cited several ways she has witnessed Presdient Holmgren’s dedication to students, “I know that she is very aware of the financial burdens that we as students bear in attending Mills and is concerned with lessening them,” Widmann said. “[She] is also supportive of creating a Women’s Resource Center on campus, a project that some students are trying to pilot.”

Virginia Rivera, associate vice president of the Office of Institutional Advancement, also praised Holmgren. “[Working with her] has been better than with any other president I’ve worked with,” she said. “She is interested in securing funds and philanthropic support.”

Delaine Eastin, President Holmgren’s senior advisor, credited Holmgren with playing a key role in developing the education program, as well as empowering women. “Jan has really been at the forefront of national research on women, at the forefront of promoting women to run for public office and on identifying great women to act as role models here at Mills,” Eastin said.

“She’s somebody who really has been a great, staunch supporter of women in all venues [and] she’s not afraid to speak the truth to power,” she added.

Rivera agreed that Holmgren supports women. “She believes in the importance of educating women, especially as leaders, not just nationally but globally,” she said. “She is growing a program in an era where other single-sex schools are voting to go co-ed to maintain their financial viability.”

Holmgren said that she has several overarching goals for the next era of Mills College. These goals include “reviewing and adding budget to strengthen academic reputation, enhancing resources for supporting students with financial aid, continuing to enhance an environment at Mills for learning and strengthening ties with the local community.”

“I think the [CASE] award is deserved,” Widmann said.

According to the College press release, the CASE District Conference will honor President Holmgren on Dec. 4, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. She will also be honored at the CASE International Conference in July.