Oakland City Council Votes to Urge Investigation Into Mills College Closure

Date Posted: July 19th, 2022 @ 4:57 PM
Last Updated: July 19th, 2022 @ 5:05 PM
Council President Pro tem Sheng Thao stands with Save Mills Coalition and Vice Mayr Kaplan's office in support of having Mills College




Press Contact:
Brandon Harami, Council Aide

Oakland, California - Today the Oakland City Council passed a resolution introduced by Council President Pro Tempore Sheng Thao and Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan celebrating Mills College and calling for an investigation into its merger with Northeastern University– a process that was sudden and had very little transparency.

Just before the meeting, Council President Pro Tempore Sheng Thao, Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, Claudia L. Mercado and Kieran Turan from the Save Mills Coalition held a press conference calling for the passage of this resolution. At this conference they discussed the efforts of current and former Mills students and faculty to save the school from closure and the lack of transparency and suddenness of its merger with Northeastern University. They also shared their deep concerns with the closure of this 170-year-old institution which primarily serves women and the LGBTQ+ community.

Council President Pro Tempore Sheng Thao States: “As a Mills Alumni, I was deeply troubled when the university declared it was closing after 170 years of service. With women and the LGBTQ+ community under attack across the country, it is incredibly important that institutions like Mills be preserved.

“This merger was sudden, confusing, and done with very little transparency. Many faculty members lost their jobs while students from around the world suddenly found out the programs they were in were cut. This process has been incredibly disruptive to the lives of thousands of people and we need answers.”

Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan States: “I am proud to stand alongside the Oakland community in calling for an independent investigation of the merger between Mills College and Northeastern University. Since its opening in 1852, Mills College has empowered women and removed barriers to women’s advancement and opportunity. At a time when BIPOC, LGBTQ, and women’s rights are under attack, from perpetrators ranging from the “Proud Boys,” to the Supreme Court, it is vital that we protect and celebrate institutions like Mills College.

I am greatly concerned with the allegations of misconduct and misinformation which led to the merger. Thank you to my council colleagues for passing my and Council Pro Tempore Sheng Thao’s resolution urging the State to conduct an independent investigation of the merger between Mills College and Northeastern University.”

Claudia L. Mercado, Mills Alumnae and Advisor for Save Mills College Coalition States:

“This historic women’s college and Hispanic Serving Institution was intended to serve women’s education for generations to come, not traded on the open market for pennies. We must hold the Mills administration leadership accountable who were responsible for actively undermining a viable California higher-ed ecosystem and safe space for women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students. Bad higher-ed leaders should not be allowed to fail forward and monetize on the hardships of students and community members. Queremos justicia para Mills!” said Claudia L. Mercado, Advisor to the SMCC and Mills’ Alumnae class of 2006 and 2007.

Kieran Turan, Vice President of Save Mills College Coalition States: “It’s deeply troubling how little oversight there is in California for non-profit small colleges, even those with the historic importance of Mills. We’re grateful for this resolution President Pro Tempore Sheng Thao and Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan which will help us take this issue up to the State and Federal level. Mills College deserves justice. Women’s colleges are particularly at risk, and Mills is one of only 3 women’s colleges left in California. The irony is that proposed legislation to support women’s colleges with federal funding was on the way, but this administration rushed the acquisition of Mills through before this proposed funding would have a chance to kick in. The Coalition and its allies will continue to fight for Mills, to overturn this destructive acquisition and see that small colleges, especially women’s colleges, get the oversight and accountability they deserve.”