Mills College is at the center of a media blitz brought on by publicity surrounding Mills’ 150 birthday.
The last five and a half weeks there have are more than thirty stories about Mills in print and broadcast media, according to Debra Dallinger, a media consultant hired by the college to help promote the sesquicentennial celebration.
Press coverage of the college has been both spontaneous and solicited. Dallinger is working to bring attention to the school, but “a lot of press has come to us and said ‘we want to know more about Mills,'” said President Jan Holmgren. She likened the interest brought about by the sesquicentennial to the sudden interest the press took in the college during the 1991 strike.
Holmgren, Edna Mitchell, and Professor Emeritus Charles Larson were featured Monday on KQED radio’s morning talk show Forum for a program about history of Mills College.
The discussion started with a focus on Mills’ history, but branched out to include talk about women’s colleges in general and the issues involved in having graduate men on a women’s campus.
Holmgren was pleased with the discussion on Forum. “A lot of positive questions were asked,” she said.
Mitchell also felt the radio program was good for the college. “I think it was an incredible opportunity for the college to have a full hour on KQED to talk about something positive,” she said.
Mitchell also praised Forum’s host. “Angie Coiro was lovely, she didn’t try to expose divisions or exploit things that might have caused people to think negatively” about the college, she said.
Both Holmgren and Mitchell said that Mills’ location sometimes hinders the college’s ability to get attention.
“We are challenged in California because there is so much emphasis on the state university system,” said Holmgren. “We are always battling for recognition.”
“We are better known outside of California, but the majority of students are from California,” said Mitchell.
Holmgren said that she and other administrators have been trying for many years to move Mills into the national spotlight, but that the results of this effort are only recently becoming evident. “We have worked hard to get our faculty and the leadership of the college recognized on the national level, and we’re just beginning to see the results,” she said.
According to Mitchell, Mills is only one of many colleges that are struggling with their image. She said Dallinger’s efforts on behalf of the college have been helpful. “I think Debra has been so successful that we need to continue to have her run with this,” she said.
“She’s very passionate about Mills. She does a very good job for us,” Holmgren said of Dallinger.
Dallinger has been collecting the recent articles and features about Mills in order to create a press kit about Mills’ sesquicentennial to send to the national news outlets.
Mills’ sesquicentennial coincides with the sesquicentennial of the city of Oakland. Holmgren plans to honor the city with an award, an act that will probably garner further attention for the college. “We’re going to honor the city of Oakland at commencement for being around for 150 years and for leadership in the civic and wider community.”