Mills College dorms, classrooms will be filled with UC Berkeley students in fall pilot program

(CREDIT: PHIL BOND/MILLS COLLEGE)

Mills College, which is preparing to close in two years, has plenty of excess room in its dorms and classroom. UC Berkeley, nine miles away, always has a shortage of space in its residential and lecture halls. So a deal has been struck between the two nearby schools that is expected to bring 200 UC Berkeley freshmen onto the Mills campus next fall.

UC Berkeley has announced that it will offer those freshman a chance to participate in a yearlong program in which they will live on Mills’ Oakland campus and take many of their introductory classes there. They will be part of an educational cohort aimed at building group identity and easing the transition to a big university.

Mills’ president Elizabeth Hillman said in a letter to the campus community that the agreement will “provide a new source of revenue that will help support services for Mills students during our transition period.” UC students, she said, would benefit from being immersed in “the Mills mission of advancing gender and racial equity.”

Financial details of the arrangement were not publicly announced. Also not revealed was whether this might be a first step for UC to possibly rent more parts of Mills in the future or to buy its property.

Mills College, an historic institution for the education of undergraduate women, announced last week that it would enroll its final group of new undergraduates this upcoming fall and close by 2023.  Mills, which enrolls women only in its undergraduate programs but is open to men in its graduate courses, long has struggled financially. Its total enrollment dropped 14% from 1,122 in fall 2019 to 961 fall 2020.

Mills College began as a religious school in 1852 and moved in 1871 to its current location on 135 lushly landscaped acres in Oakland. Plans call for it to become an institute focusing on issues of women’s leadership and social equity.

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