This impending “deal” with Northeastern isn’t what Hillman has claimed. For one, this is not a merger. Mills College is being ABSORBED by Northeastern, which is described in the merger agreement as the “surviving entity.”
THE DESTRUCTIVE NORTHEASTERN DEAL
The End of the Majority of Mills' Liberal Arts Programs and Degrees
Hillman's Northeastern deal would mean a huge list of cancelled Mills’ degrees, including almost all of the liberal arts programs which put Mills on the global stage. Northeastern lacks accreditation in the liberal arts, and Mills would be giving up its accreditation in favor of Northeastern's, which is primarily a tech and business school.
Northeastern's takeover means these Mills degrees will be cancelled -
Global Humanities and Critical Thought,
Biochemical and Molecular Biology,
And Mills' renowned Master’s programs in the Arts, will be lumped under a generic “Art” diploma – essentially destroying them.(2)
The deal gets even worse as the closing date approaches. Mills' Faculty were told in March that Mills can’t have ANY majors - or even departments - that compete with anything offered on the Northeastern-Boston campus. This means for example, that there won’t be a Business Administration or Biology major – or even department - at Mills location.
In addition, Northeastern’s prior acquisition of a liberal arts college in London gutted the adjunct faculty and stripped the college entirely of its liberal arts focus.
Mills will just be buildings and land for Northeastern.
People assume that just because Northeastern's Boston campus is successful, that that is the "deal" Mills will get. But many of Northeastern "campuses" are merely office spaces in WeWork coworking office buildings, and offer limited degrees. The San Francisco office (in a WeWork space) offers 6 degrees, all graduate programs, and all are in Computer Science.
The two programs Northeastern wants to implement at Mills College are NU-In and NU-Bound. NU-In is a short term international exchange program of 1-2 semesters, and NU-Bound is for students who failed to get into Northeastern, giving them an additional year of coursework to get them up to speed. This is not exactly the visionary and inspiring academic partnership that some expect.
Hillman's deal means that Mills will become a shell campus - a location alone - and no longer a college, similar to Northeastern's WeWork "campuses," only with Mills precious assets and buildings.
Northeastern would acquire all of Mills’ assets - worth billions of dollars - simply for paying off Mills’ very small level of debt and liabilities of approximately $30M.
What President Hillman is giving away in this sell-out of Mills College includes Mills’ 135-acre campus in Oakland. The land alone is worth billions as it is prime Bay Area real estate. Mills also has an incredible art collection valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, not to mention the value of its historic buildings and other assets and collections. There are also 25 developable acres on the Mills campus which would go to out-of-state Northeastern’s control.
Many of these assets are unknown, not valued at their true worth, or not publicly assessed at the county or state level, so there is no clarity on what is being lost. For instance, Mills 135-acre property is only valued on Mills’ balance sheet at $291,687. Plaintiffs in the Alumnae Association’s lawsuit against the College asked for - and were denied - a catalog and valuation of the art, rare books and manuscripts, Center for Contemporary Music and SF Tape Music Center archives, and other assets of the College. This was only valued on the Balance Sheet as $3.4 million in 2020.
The Board of Trustees’ plan, if implemented, will place the College in a death spiral.
(1) “After Mills merges with Northeastern, some students’ majors will no longer exist” Oaklandside, 2/11/22 https://bit.ly/3Kmuozb (2) Press Release: “Mills College MFA Collective Demands Accountability for Misrepresentations of Mills College’s Future to Students, Faculty, and Staff” https://bit.ly/3CjUjof