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AAMC and College compromise

The annual fund for Mills is now run by the College, and the alumnae association receives its operating budget from the College while retaining its non-profit status, according to an agreement reached over the summer after a year of negotiations.

The Alumnae Association of Mills College can continue to raise funds for its own operations, to subsidize the $550,000 it will receive from the College, but they can no longer solicit for the annual fund, according to the five-year agreement effective July 1, 2005. The Office of Institutional Advancement now runs the Mills College Annual Fund.

A college’s annual fund targets alumnae for contributions, and solicits funds based on the previous year’s donations: if you donate $1500 one year, you would be targeted for an equivalent, or higher, donation in the following years.

“I am so pleased about the outcome,” President Janet Holmgren said. “It’s a tribute to Mills, to our board and to our alumnae, and I think it’s a good model for students to see you can work out hard issues.”

Negotiations started last year after some expressed concern that the annual fund operated by the AAMC was not raising enough money for the college. The College had indicated it would start its own annual fund last spring, before negotiations were completed.

The AAMC’s annual fund was used to support its own operations, alumnae programs, student scholarships and programs, and faculty salaries. The MC annual fund continues to fund faculty salaries and student scholarships and programs, and also allows for donations to be designated toward other areas, according to Ramon Torrecilha, executive vice president for the Office of Institutional Advancement.

Other details of the agreement include recognition of a 1948 agreement that gave AAMC use of Reinhardt Alumnae House while the College pays for its maintenance; a one-time “improvements” payment of $50,000 for upgrades to RAH; and a one-time “transition support” payment of $50,000 that will roll-over until depleted.

“The agreement allows the AAMC to grow and become the best it can be,” said AAMC President Thomasina Woida, “for the alumnae and for the students.”

“We’re in an extraordinary period, a cooperative and collaborative period,” Woida said. “We have a lot of healing to do – there were a lot of hurt feelings, but we have time to fix them and we want to fix them, and we at the association are looking at this positively, to move forward in support of alumnae, alumni, undergraduates and graduates.”

AAMC will be working on a new mission statement and updating its strategic plan in the near future, Woida said, and the next few meetings of the Board of Governors, the AAMC’s governing body, will be focused on a restructure, including new fund-raising opportunities.

“We’ve given them a strong financial package to support them in their work,” Holmgren said.

“The Mills College Annual Fund capitalizes on the resources that are already available in the Office of Institutional Advancement,” Torrecilha said. “We are able to materialize a gift to the college that carries a very low overhead.” He emphasized that funds will be utilized quickly; donations made now are put to use for current students.

“The better the alumnae fund is,” said Holly Stanco, director of the MCAF, “the better the programs for students.”