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Campus optimistic with selection of 14th president of Mills College

The Mills community now knows that the College’s 14th president will be Elizabeth Hillman, as announced on Mar 2. With that announcement, there were questions as to what the new president is like, and many seem to be pretty pleased with who was picked.

Hillman begins her term as Mills College President on July 1, 2016.  Currently the Provost and Academic Dean at UC Hastings, she was unanimously selected by the Presidential Search Committee (PSC), a 15 member group of faculty, administration, trustees and students.

Many staff and faculty members say they feel optimistic about the new president based on the welcoming ceremony that Hillman spoke at on Mar 2, shortly after the announcement of her presidency.

At the ceremony, she spoke on the past, present and future of Mills. Hillman also cracked a few jokes that showed her personal side when she spoke at the ceremony, such as “I want to talk about debts, not Mills debts, not yet.” At the end of the ceremony, she invited her wife and five children up on stage.

Senior Iona de la Tore was pleased with President Hillman’s address at the ceremony. She thought that Hillman had clearly done her research on Mills since she had invoked the images of both President Aurelia Reindhart, who was president almost exactly 100 years ago, and Susan Mills’ legacies at the College.

On the whiteboard in Adam’s Plaza, the question of the week asked what the Mills community thought of the President-elect. Someone wrote “cautiously optimistic,” to which many people wrote statements in agreement.

Hillman comes to Mills with 20 years of being a professor under her belt, and according to ASMC President Rachel Patterson, Hillman identifies as a professor and understands what it means to be a faculty member.

Chair of the PSC and board of trustee member Katie Sanborn is pleased that Hillman has been both a member of faculty and administration.

“I think this comes across in her conversations in us that she is very much of the faculty. She identifies very much with being a professor. You can tell from her CV that that’s been a great deal of her experience,” Sanborn said. “She is very passionate about faculty and I think she is really looking forward to working with our faculty.”

Because of Hillman’s background in teaching, she has a true passion for students and hearing back from her community. These qualities were something that was noted on the presidential profile put together by the PSC and the search firm, Isaacson Miller.

Other traits mentioned in the presidential profile was experience in shared governance, curricular reform, enrollment strategies and budgeting. Which, according to the memo sent out by chair of the board of trustees, Kathleen Burke, Hillman possesses experience in all of those sections.

Former Mills professor of law for 20 years and current UC Hastings Dean, Laurie Zimet says that she thinks that the Mills community and Hillman will work well together, based on Zimet’s experience with both Mills and Hillman.

“It sounds like where Mills is right now and where President Hillman is now is a perfect fit,” Zimet said.

According to Patterson, Hillman, who lives in Berkeley and often swims at the Mills pool, will be visiting campus every month up to the beginning of her term.

“Her biggest concern is really being able to meet the campus and experience it before she just jumps in,” Patterson said.

President Hillman’s visits to campus will be coordinated by Chief of Staff Renee Jadshlever, according to a memo sent out on Mar 7. The Mills community will be alerted before Hillman’s visits to campus.