Like many private colleges, Mills is suffering in a flagging economy as well as adapting to new student demands and needs. It’s clear that with a deficit of $2 million, some layoffs and cutbacks are necessary.
When the college finds itself in hard times, ridding itself of departments that demonstrate the diversity of curricula offered at Mills compromises the school’s reputation-substituting haste for tradition.
Consequently, our status as a liberal arts college suffers when departments such as dramatic arts and modern languages are eliminated or diminished.
Our fiscal situation forces us to make decisions that will determine which valued programs and teachers are lost.
While targeting vulnerable departments like dramatic arts and modern languages makes sense from a financial standpoint, it is unfortunate, and telling, that we are willing to part with programs that have long been established at Mills.
These programs are examples of the commitment Mills has had to a liberal arts education.
Although the term ‘liberal arts’ does not necessarily mandate a track in drama or a degree in German, we, as students, regard them as integral to the well-rounded education sought at private liberal arts schools.
In these difficult times when unpopular choices must be made, it is even more important that the cutbacks not affect the stated mission of Mills.
In efforts to adapt to changing demands, the college creates new majors while old departments are disregarded.
Inevitably, these changes set new priorities. The “academic re-structuring” at Mills is not simply a shift in the distribution of funds or the termination of short-term contract teachers; it is a process of redefining the college’s image that, devoid of dramatic arts and languages, takes away from what we still presume to call a liberal arts experience.