Another California college has succumbed to financial pressures exacerbated by the pandemic. Mills College in Oakland announced Wednesday that it will stop admitting new students after fall 2021 and shut down entirely by 2023.
The 169-year-old college is now the second college in California after speculations about Notre Dame de Namur University closing down started circulating last year.
The decision comes after years of revenue shortfalls coupled with a massive decline in enrollment, factors made worse by the pandemic.
The news of Mills College's closing is upsetting on so many levels. I hold their music programs in the highest esteem, and I'm thinking about their extraordinary faculty and the students I've met from there past and present. The history of the place boggles the mind. Crushing. pic.twitter.com/TL61kifYWM
— David Grubbs (@blackfaurest) March 17, 2021
The college will no longer award four-year degrees but plans to “continue to foster women’s leadership and student success” by converting to an institute. There is speculation that Mills could become a think tank or otherwise run programs for the larger community.
For students entering the school in the fall or those who remain over the next two years, Mills will ensure their smooth transition to other academic institutions.
“Our goal is to deliver an exceptional academic and co-curricular experience to our students for at least the next two academic years, with Mills faculty and staff at the heart of that experience,” Mills President Elizabeth L. Hillman wrote.
Colleges Feeling the Pinch
Mills is the latest in a series of colleges calling it quits due to bankruptcy and a decline in student enrollment since the coronavirus hit higher education institutions. Several colleges, steeped in history, that survived the Great Depression and the two world wars were not able to survive COVID-19. One of them, central Illinois liberal arts school MacMurray College, met with a similar fate.
MacMurray President Beverly Rodgers said the college initially had a survival plan, but it failed once “COVID had gotten serious, and the banks tightened up money.”
Last year, New York University Professor Scott Galloway conducted an analysis that predicted how perhaps 90 US colleges could perish due to the ongoing pandemic. Galloway, a marketing professor, listed schools expected to “perish, struggle, survive, or thrive” in a quadrant breakdown based on their existing value compared with tuition costs and vulnerability to the pandemic.
To survive the throes of the pandemic, Galloway called for federal government support and remote classes across America.