Westminster is a huge fan of the flipped classroom approach to teaching, and sent a few of us out to Colorado Springs to attend the POGIL Southwest Regional Conference this past week. In addition to three days of discussing classics such as "teamwork", "oral and written communication", "management", "information processing", "critical thinking", "problem solving" and "assessment", I also learned an incredible amount of additional jargon as well. Ridiculous buzzwords aside, however, the conference was actually quite informative and I'm really looking forward to implementing some new ideas into my classroom for this fall!
This past Wednesday, it was publicly announced that Mills has officially declared a state of financial emergency with a reported budget deficit of over $9 million, and has made the decision to terminate the contracts of 11 tenured faculty members, many, if not all, of whom have devoted decades of their lives to the College and, more importantly, to their students. In addition to the tenured faculty, Mills will also be cutting numerous staff, full-time and non-tenure-track (NTT) positions as well, and is furthermore eliminating the entire Philosophy Department and merging many of the remaining departments in hopes of cutting costs.
While I am now two years removed from Mills and thus am unaffected, professionally, by these decisions, I am nonetheless personally overwhelmed by this news. As a passionate and dedicated educator, it positively kills me to know that Mills will undoubtedly suffer a huge loss in parting with some of their most well-respected and established faculty and staff members, individuals whose contributions throughout campus, within the classroom and impact on the lives of students cannot be equated to their paychecks, however large or small.
I have the utmost confidence that the Board, current College President and all those in positions of leverage have not taken this decision lightly; I cannot even begin to understand the difficulty with which they must have made their final decisions, and I fully respect the unenviable position in which they too currently find themselves. Given the advanced state of decline in the College, frankly doing absolutely nothing at this point is simply not feasible. This said, however, I am utterly devastated over this proposed "solution", not only because I have dear friends and former colleagues who were selected for termination, but because I know and have personally experienced what a tight-knit and supportive community Mills encompasses.
The most positive outcome at this point, of course, would presumably be the recovery of financial stability and the avoidance of full closure of the College, but I worry that the negative impacts of these decisions, priceless as they are, cannot be ignored. My broken heart is with you, Mills College.
Words cannot express how humbled I was by this note. I take an enormous amount of pride in my teaching, and there's nothing more rewarding than knowing that all of my efforts, all of my advance planning and organization, all of my hard work with students and all of my time spent constantly trying to be a better instructor have paid off even in the eyes of one single individual.
One year down, hopefully many more to go.