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Staff Editorial: Campanil staff welcomes new president, considers potential for new era

In our March 1st issue of last year, the Campanil staff agreed that a new president should usher in a new era of leadership at Mills—something only possible if commitments to transparency and successfully managing personnel are made.

Mills College welcomes Alecia A. DeCoudreaux as the 13th president on Thursday, Jan. 21. (The Campanil)

One issue which was immediately striking to us regarding our newly appointed president, Alecia A. DeCoudreaux, is her lack of teaching experience—her leadership experience has taken place most notably in the corporate business world. She is certainly no stranger to the world of higher education—having not only earned a degree at Wellesley (another women’s college) but also a doctorate in law. Her resumee of various board leaderships spans great distances—both literal distances as well as ranges of responsibilities and duties. 

Significantly, her current position as trustee and board chair at Wellesley College demonstrates her ability to fundraise money necessary to maintain private liberal arts colleges like Mills. Although the possession of such a leadership skill is crucial and will likely benefit the school, it will take more than a good fundraiser to truly lead Mills into a new era.

One change our staff would like to see our new president make is no longer firing Mills employees with no or minimal explanation—this includes practices of tying clauses to severance packages to deter individuals from speaking out, as we mentioned in our first editorial.

Also, we would like to see a president who truly lives in the President’s House.  Living on campus will certainly foster a closeness to Mills which would not be possible if our President made elsewhere her home.  The President’s House should be used for what it is—if this happens, it will create trust within the student and faculty body—what’s the point of a building used mostly for decoration?

From what we have seen of DeCoudreaux so far, she is certainly charismatic and well-spoken, but her comments at the assembly on Thursday regarding commitment to and work in social justice seemed slightly vague.  Our staff has little doubt that her intentions are to continue Mills’ mission of social justice, but her speech mentioned no specific plans of what she was going to to do, what policies she planned on enacting, or things she wanted to see change.  However, this is understandable as she herself only found out about her new presidency very recently.

Certainly DeCoudreaux ‘s acceptance speech was warm and gracious—and it was certainly refreshing to see a face which did not look so similar to past Mills presidents, as DeCoudreaux is the first woman of color to lead Mills—and the Campanil staff looks forward to getting to know her over the period of her presidency.

Read the official article on the new Mills College president.