Law students should 'remember who they are and what they represent,' Mills College's new president says

By Karen Kidd | Aug 16, 2016

OAKLAND – The new president at Mills College recalled the words of her predecessor when offering advice to young women entering their new careers, especially those aspiring to the legal profession.

"Women who study law and public policy learn to recognize, assess, and recreate systems of power, access and opportunity," Elizabeth L. Hillman, who will be inaugurated next month, said during a Northern California Record email interview. "They have the opportunity to shape how we address the biggest problems that face us, since every issue - climate change, racial justice, violence, gender inequality, poverty - has legal dimensions in both government and the private sector. I'd advise students of law to 'remember who they are and what they represent', as Mills College's own Dean Hettie Belle Ege counseled Mills women a century ago, as they contemplate the practice of law."

Mills College President Elizabeth L. Hillman   Photo courtesy Mills College

Hillman, whose selection by Mills College's board of trustees was announced in March, assumed the office July 1. "Hillman was chosen from a large and varied pool of exceptional candidates in a comprehensive national search," said the March announcement.

Her inauguration as Mills College's 14th president is scheduled Sept. 23, part of the 164-year-old women's college's convocation ceremony to celebrate the beginning of the new academic year.

Hillman succeeds Alecia A. DeCoudreaux, who stepped down in June after five years in office.

“I am extremely honored and excited to work with President Hillman and the entire Mills community to support the resurgence in women’s education," recently elected Mills College board of trustees Chair Katie Sanborn was quoted in the inauguration announcement. "The world needs a place like Mills that empowers women to make their mark in every possible way and place."

Hillman previously was provost and academic dean and professor of law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. She also was professor and director of faculty development at Rutgers University School of Law and taught at Yale University and the U.S. Air Force Academy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Duke University, a master’s degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania, a law degree from Yale Law School, and a doctorate in history with a focus on women’s history from Yale University.

Founded in 1852, Mills College is located in Oakland, in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, and is known as an independent liberal arts college for women that also has graduate programs for women and men. Mills College is ranked as one of the top-tier regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report and as one of The Best 379 Colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review.

Hillman told the Northern California Record that she has certain hopes and goals for her time as president of Mills College.

"I hope to bring the Mills experience to more people, here in the Bay Area and around the world, and to sustain Mills College as a place where students can find both their voices and ways to change the world," she said.

Hillman added that Mills College, as a women's college, has an important job to do in the world.

"To empower women - born and self-identified - to understand and create our world," she said. "To succeed in the arts, sciences, education, and business; to stay engaged in our communities and contribute to the public good."

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