AAMC News & Notes

A Message from the AAMC President: Fall 2021

It is wonderful to welcome students, staff, and faculty back to the Mills campus after such a long time apart. The beauty of Mills is reflected all over the campus and I feel lucky that we are finally able to gather here on the grounds, even if in a limited capacity. 

This August, the Alumnae Student Relations Committee (in partnership with the College’s Alumnae Relations Office) welcomed students new to campus from both 2020 and 2021 with our annual Taco Tuesday, including raffle prizes and special desserts. It is always a fun and celebratory event, and students enjoy being at Reinhardt Alumnae House and engaging with alumnae. 

In addition to connecting alumnae to students, it is always such a pleasure to recognize alumnae who have made significant contributions to the AAMC, Mills, and the professional world. The Alumnae Awards Committee has announced the awardees for 2021. Congratulations to Carol Alcalay ’52, Outstanding Volunteer; Amanda Page Harper ’09, Recent Graduate; and Joan Millar Lincoln ’66, Distinguished Achievement. Awardees from both 2020 and 2021 will be honored at this year’s Reunion Awards Ceremony. Scroll down to read about this year’s awardees. 

The College’s closing announcement this spring was a shock, but as a result the alumnae community has been more engaged than ever. The Board of Governors (BOG) has met monthly since March, with many giving very generously of their time and resources, filling their lives with all things Mills! 

Many alumnae have been vocal and visible in their sadness, with protests and organizing to support Mills and the BOG. Two groups, the UC Mills Campaign and Save Mills College Coalition, worked with the BOG and shared their proposals for new ways to sustain or evolve Mills College with the Board of Trustees. You can read more about the organizing of these groups and other alumnae on the Mills Quarterly website. A basic timeline of events is below. 

To say this year has been unprecedented is an understatement. Those of us who relished our time at Mills, who have supported our alma mater through the years, and who want the best for all Mills constituents have had several challenges presented to us this year. 

To be on the opposing side from people I value, respect, and have worked with for these past five years has been incredibly painful and challenging. I know that Mills alumnae have strong and differing views, and I have received many emails and letters expressing those perspectives. Amidst it all, I have been sustained by your writing and phone calls in expression of support, as well as financial gifts to the AAMC to aid in its pursuit of clarity and longevity for Mills College. 

Many others have walked before us in paths of adversity amidst uncertainty, standing up for what they believed was right. They left us an example to follow: 

The time is always right to do what is right. –Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better. –Maya Angelou 

By the time you read this letter, I hope and pray that Mills students, faculty, and staff are on a sustainable path towards the future and that Mills can be saved for generations still. 

In strength, 

Viji Nakka-Cammauf, MA ’82
AAMC President

Alumnae Organizing Timeline

See the fuller picture at aamc-mills.org

June 25, 2020: In a video conference with donors, President Hillman mentions partnership discussions with UC Berkeley 

June 30, 2020: Amidst talk of the UCB partnership, Lisa Kremer ’90 and Jennifer Gallison ’97 start the Strong Proud All Mills Facebook group 

March 17, 2021: The College announces its anticipated closure as a degree-granting college 

March 17, 2021: Paige Chamblin, MBA/MPP ’21, starts the Save Mills Facebook group, from which the Save Mills College Coalition grows 

March 24, 2021: The AAMC holds a town hall to discuss the future of Mills and the AAMC; more than 600 alumnae participate 

April 2, 2021: The AAMC BOG issues a position statement in an email to alumnae, outlining their demands for the trustees to consider 

April 2, 2021: The campaign to create a standalone UC Mills emerges on Facebook and ucmills.com 

April 23, 2021: The Coalition’s lawyers send a memo to the California attorney general asking for an investigation into the decision to close Mills 

May 3, 2021: Mills faculty announce a 73% vote of no confidence in the Mills College administration 

May 14, 2021: AAMC Vice Presidents Alexa Pagonas ’91 and Dawn Cunningham ’85 ask Mills trustees to allow one year to study financially sustainable models that would keep Mills a degree-granting college or university 

June 7, 2021: Three alumna trustees and AAMC President Viji Nakka-Cammauf, MA ’82, file a legal complaint with Alameda County 

June 14, 2021: The AAMC sends a survey to alums asking for their opinions on their potential legal proceedings 

August 5, 2021: The judge issues a restraining order blocking the College from immediately partnering with Northeastern University 

August 16, 2021: The AAMC is added as plaintiff to the lawsuit; the judge grants Nakka-Cammauf until September 3 to review financial documents 

September 13-14, 2021: The judge rules that the College has complied with the court’s ruling and allows the Board of Trustees to vote on the proposed merger with Northeastern

2021 Alumnae Awards Profiles

Joan Millar Lincoln ’66, Distinguished Achievement 

Following Joan’s musical studies with Darius Milhaud and Morton Subotnick at Mills, she went on to teach music at Simon’s Rock. She and her husband, Albert Lincoln III, then immigrated to France, where she nurtured their first child and traveled and performed as a bilingual folk singer. 

Starting in 1972, the Lincolns spent 11 years in the Central African Republic, where Joan’s original musical capacity continued developing. Throughout her years there, Joan accompanied young Africans on the guitar as they performed their own music, performed in jazz and Dixieland groups, and wrote her own songs about her unique life experiences. Eventually, she earned a master’s in ethnomusicology at l’Institut National des Arts with her thesis “Chansons de Maternité Adioukrou” (Maternity Songs of the Adioukrou Tribe).

Joan has been invited to speak at conferences all around the world, eventually returning to the US in 2014. During the pandemic, she self-published a booklet of 15 original four-part a cappella choral pieces, and having written approximately 70 songs over the decades, is now compiling some of those into a second booklet. It is nearly impossible to sum up Joan’s accomplishments in just a few paragraphs, and that makes it clear that she is more than deserving of this year’s Distinguished Achievement Award. 

Carol Alcalay ’53, Outstanding Volunteer 

Carol has been volunteering with Los Angeles Mills College Alumnae (LAMCA) for more than 50 years, serving on the executive board for several decades in various leadership positions— most recently as vice president. Carol goes beyond mere leadership by hosting numerous monthly board meeting luncheons each year, engaging every guest with her personal affection for Mills. 

Carol is also an ambassador for the College. When her nominator, Julia Almanzan ’92, was a student at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, she wound up volunteering in Carol’s bilingual elementary school classroom. The two immediately discovered their Mills connection because of Carol’s swift mention of her involvement with the College. Julia has been deeply involved with LAMCA ever since. It is that sort of advocacy that has helped build Mills’ reputation and engaged alumnae to stay connected to each other and to the College. 

Carol embodies the true alumnae spirit of selflessness and commitment to our alma mater. She is an extraordinary example of how the AAMC, through its regional branch clubs, brings alumnae together across generations. We are proud to call her 2021’s Outstanding Volunteer. 

Amanda Harper ’09, Recent Graduate 

Amanda’s dedication to her work as a training instructor for the Sierra Army Depot Training Division shines through in her creation of collaborative and welcoming spaces for creativity, inclusion, and professional growth. In Amanda’s three years with the division, she has significantly developed its leadership programs with her guidance and expertise. This past February, she was awarded Training Magazine’s 2020 Emerging Training Leader Award for her efforts. Although not a supervisor, Amanda is clearly a key leader at the depot and is often part of command meetings, planning committees, and other initiatives. 

As her nominator, partner Loren Harper, puts it: “She is an advocate for leadership, in and outside of work, and strives for excellence in all that she does. She is a true representation of Mills College. I believe she deserves this award because of her dedication to selfless service.” With this much achieved already in her career, we are certain that Amanda will go on to do even greater things, and therefore we award her 2021’s Recent Graduate Award.