The board of trustees announced that Mills is currently running a $9 million yearly operating deficit. The $9 million shortfall is about 16 percent of the school’s 2017 budget of $57 million.
The budgetary crisis will cause professors and administrators to lose their jobs, trustees said. Also, there is a plan in the works to restructure the curriculum.
The bylaws at Mills contain a codicil allowing the board of trustees “to reorder the college’s financial obligations” and “restructure all of its expenses, including staff and faculty salary and other expenses” in the event that fundamental “financial stability” is at stake, according to Inside Higher Ed.
Mills College president Elizabeth L. Hillman said she expects up to 35 faculty layoffs. Tenured professors will not be spared.
All told, the small, residential liberal arts college employs about 570 full-time and part-time professors, administrators and other employees.
A single year of undergraduate tuition, fees and room and board at Mills costs $59,163.
Mills has an endowment of about $177 million.
For the 2015-2016 academic year, Mills received just 839 applications.
In August 2014, Mills College became the first women’s college in the United States to admit male students who call themselves females but fail to possess the requisite genitalia.
“Students who self-identify as female are eligible to apply for undergraduate admission,” the trailblazing admissions policy stated. “This includes students who were not assigned to the female sex at birth but live and identify as women at the time of application. It also includes students who are legally assigned to the female sex, but who identify as transgender or gender fluid.”
The policy statement added that “self-identification shall be the driving force behind the College’s eligibility decision.”
Females who have undergone surgical mutilation to become male were not allowed, however.
“Students assigned to the female sex at birth who have undergone a legal change of gender to male prior to the point of application are not eligible for admission,” the policy read.
In the wake of its announced financial crisis, Mills appears to doubling down on radical causes.
The new curriculum — “a bold new education experience” called MillsNext — “will provide students with the tools and confidence to solve complex problems, communicate across differences and take action aimed at transforming their communities and the world,” according to documents obtained by Inside Higher Ed.
Mills will focus its new curriculum on issues including “gender and racial justice.”
A handful of other women’s colleges have changed their policies to allow male students who call themselves transgender since Mills changed its policy.
In 1990, in the midst of declining enrollment and financial struggles, officials at Mills attempted to admit males of any variety. However, after over 300 angry students held a two-week strike, alumnae created a — now apparently failed — financial plan to preserve the status of Mills as a women’s college, The Associated Press reported at the time.