Due to budgetary cuts, the Women’s Leadership Institute has been cancelled, effective 2009, and it is likely that Director Daphne Muse will also leave the College.
After the Institute for Civic Leadership was abruptly cancelled in April 2008, and then quickly reinstated for the remainder of the school year, its sister program WLI will now become a part of the curriculum, according to an e-mail sent by Muse to WLI applicants.
Provost Sandra Greer said that Muse has been “absolutely wonderful. and cooperative” throughout the Provost’s discussion to transition the program, and that Muse “has made great contributions to Mills.” Still, Greer added that the transition makes it “not likely that Daphne [Muse] will be at Mills” after the end of this school year. She refused to comment further.
On Nov. 13, Muse notified students that submitted WLI applications, which included resumes, letters of recommendations and a personal statement, that “WLI will not be able to seat a 2008-2010 cohort.”
Muse was out of the office due to the death of her husband and was unavailable for comment.
The deadline to announce the cohort was delayed three times and applicants received no indication that WLI was in jeopardy or that there was the possibility that it would be transitioned.
Junior Tracy Rodriguez who applied to the program said, “An e-mail like this would be most appropriate to send to potential applicants before they submitted their applications, not after they are expecting [a] decision.”
Rodriguez, a transfer student, said she was mainly attracted to Mills by the WLI program, and that she is now “feeling misled and very disappointed and let down.”
As of the publication date last Thursday, there was no official College-wide announcement about the decision to cut WLI. Some who have been told recognize the benefits that may come from the transition, but others like WLI Fellow Cecilia Aguilera are skeptical that the Mills administration will keep its promise to grow the Institute into a curricular program.
“I see this attempt to cut the WLI as the first step in the process which will inevitably dissolve it for good,” Aguilera said.
Program Coordinator for ICL, Michaela Daystar, said she recognizes the financial situation of Mills, but believes that the College will need to reestablish ICL and WLI once Mills is more financially stable.
“Every department is taking financial hits,” Daystar said. “Every department. We are not being picked on, but ICL and WLI are too important to let go.”
According to the Mills Strategic Plan, the number one goal of the college is “Academic excellence and education for leadership,” which includes strengthening initiatives to “facilitate the development of leaders” through enhancing “opportunities for learning outside of the classroom.”
Students like Aguilera feel there is a schism between Mills’ policy and its actions. “In my opinion the school really ought to take off its website and pamphlets any mention of ‘women’s leadership’ despite its so-called mission statement for building stronger women leaders,” said Aguilera. “Because in reality, it doesn’t exist on this campus. And I think you will find I am not alone in this opinion.”