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Looking to the Future | Q&A with Elizabeth Hillman


(Courtesy of Mills College)
(Courtesy of Mills College)

On March 2, Mills College’s new president, Elizabeth Hillman, was selected as Mills’ president with a unanimous vote from the Presidential Search Committee.  Currently a professor of law and the Academic Provost and Academic Dean at UC Hastings, Hillman begins her term at Mills on July 1, 2016.

Hillman has served as an officer in the Air Force. She also holds four degrees: a BSEE in electrical engineering from Duke University, an MA in history from the University of Pennsylvania, a JD from Yale Law School and a PhD in history with a focus on women’s history from Yale University.

Q: What is your entry plan coming to Mills College as our president?

A: To learn as much and as fast as possible about Mills so that I can hit the ground running. Our transition team is keeping me on track, and I’ve already learned so much from Mills’ trustees, faculty, administration, students and alumnae.

Q: Are you ready for what Mills has to offer? 

A: Well, I try to be ready for most things, so I hope so […] Answering that question is one of the goals of our transition.

Q: How will you share information with students and staff? How would you connect with students and staff?

A: As often and in as many ways as possible: formally and informally; in one-on-one meetings and in groups; in words and actions…having open dialogue and meaningful communication with students, faculty and staff is critical to our mission, and I’ve been asking for ideas about how best to reach people.

Q: Are there any classes that you are excited to sit in on for next semester? If so, what are they?

A: Yes! Too many to list, alas…I very much look forward to seeing Mills’ faculty and students in action — and to getting back into the classroom myself before long. Next week is the final exam in my constitutional law class, which was great fun this semester, in part, because of the compelling elections underway and the changes in, and issues before, the Supreme Court.

Q: What lessons from your experiences from UC Hastings do you plan to take to Mills?

A: I’m bringing everything I’ve learned to Mills — including what I’ve learned about through working with UC Hastings’ terrific faculty, boards, students, staff and alumni.

Q:  What would you like for us to know about you at this time?
A: That I’m thrilled at the opportunity to lead an institution as historic and relevant as Mills College — and that I need your help to learn about Mills and chart a course for the future. It’s especially exciting to arrive at a time when there’s so much demand — in Oakland, in California, across the United States, and around the world — for the kind of creativity and independent thought that Mills has long inspired in its students.