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College president: an advocate for women’s education and leadership

In order to best select the new president of Mills College, the search committee must understand the range of responsibilities our new leader will undertake.

According to the Mills Web site, “the President of the College … is the executive and educational head of the College and the chief executive officer of the faculty.”

A College president is in charge of managing both the inner workings of the College as well as the image the institution portrays to the outside community. She or he recommends hiring and firing decisions to the Board of Trustees and works closely with the Board to ensure the College is heading in the right direction.

According to Board Chair Kathleen Burke, specific presidential responsibilities include working with the Board to create the College’s strategic plan and maintaining fiscal management and academic excellence.

“The responsibilities really vary – they are very broad and deep,” Burke said.

A strategic plan maps out the goals of the College and informs the community of the direction the administration is heading. Current President Janet Holmgren’s most recent strategic plan highlights the College’s commitment to leadership education, diversity and sustainability. It was last revised in the 2007-2008 academic year to reflect changes officials hope to make by the 2012-2013 year.

In it both the Board of Trustees and Holmgren emphasize the importance of providing learning opportunities outside of the classroom in order to increase the academic rigor of the College. The plan also discusses strengthening the ties between the Alumnae Association and the College by using “alumnae expertise to enrich the educational experience at Mills and provide models of leadership.”

The College’s fiscal policy is also drawn out in the strategic plan. It stipulates that the College should maintain a policy of sustainability “by achieving balanced budgets, decreasing reliance on the quasi-endowment and adhering to the endowment pay-out structure.”

The plan also outlined a method of determining “the priority and/or advisability of major facilities projects.” It outlines the Board’s plan to use two percent of the operating budget each year on a list of maintenance projects that are currently on hold.

While the president performs many important tasks within the College administration, it is also her job to educate the rest of the community about Mills. Board members The Campanil spoke with said they feel Holmgren has succeeded in this task.

“She has been an incredible spokesperson and advocate in advancing women’s education and Mills’ role in women’s education,” Burke said.

Campanil reporters were unable to contact Holmgren in time for this article.