New Dean of Students Chicora Martin has big plans for Mills and hopes to connect and work with students to meet their campus needs.
Martin, who uses the preferred gender pronouns “they/them,” felt inspired as they met with students to get to know the campus on Feb. 23.
Martin was formerly the assistant dean of student and director of LGBT education and support services at the University of Oregon before coming to Mills. Martin also holds a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Colorado State University and a master’s in higher education from Florida State University.
The Campanil: What do you hope for or plan to accomplish at Mills?
Chicora Martin: I think that Mills is an exciting place to be right now … I came to campus, and I met some of the students, and I was just inspired. I love a campus where the students inspire each other, where they have such amazing ideas and where they really feel like they are here for a purpose and a reason. That was why I chose to come. What I hope to accomplish? I think that when it comes to students, my hope is to do our part to make sure that they can follow those dreams, that they can get that degree, that they can accomplish what they are looking to accomplish … to make sure that they have the experience, skills and tools to grow.
TC: Are you confident in what you plan to achieve?
CM: Do I think that we can help students find their goals? Yes, I do. Do I know exactly what that looks like? No. I still have a lot to learn about Mills, about students’ needs, about the way we can work together and how that will look like and how that partnership might progress.
TC: How do you plan to connect with Mills students and their experiences?
CM: One of the things is really taking the time to go out and meet students. [An] advantage of being on campus is going out to the dining halls and student meetings and really taking the time to meet individual students, student leaders, student in organizations. That for me, is really getting to know them [and also] … being available to students when they want to meet with me or talk with me more about what’s going on with them.
TC: Are you ready for what Mills has to offer?
CM: [Yes, in a sense that] I wouldn’t have come here if I wasn’t fully committed to being at Mills. I know Mills has its own unique culture and experience. I think my work at the University of Oregon, also a campus that prides themselves on being activist students and being engaged with the world and standing for what they believe in. … I think that’s giving a good foundation, and I’m looking forward to continuing that work.
TC: What lessons from your experiences at the University of Oregon will you take to Mills?
CM: There [are] definitely a couple of good lessons I think that work. The work we do needs to be very collaborative with students. You really have to create strong partnerships with students to ensure that the campus is meeting their needs, and I really try to do that with an open mind and a lot of passion and energy. It truly is what I love about my work. Students who come to schools like Mills, I believe, are exceptionally skilled and bring a lot of strengths. Our job is to make sure they can fulfill the things that they want to do. Part of it is being open to ideas, being willing to be creative. I think I would bring all of that with me from the University of Oregon to Mills.
TC: What would you like for students to know about you at this time?
CM: Number one is if you see me on campus, please say hello, sit down, introduce yourself, introduce me to the folks you’re sitting with. I really do have an open door policy, and if I’m around on campus, I want to meet and interact with students. Also, I don’t shy away from the hard things. … [Our] job is to make sure that hard questions get answers.