AAMC News & Notes

A Message from the AAMC President: Fall 2020

The past summer was unusually quiet at Mills, with just a few students staying on campus to shelter in place. Among them were several international students. I had opportunities to talk with some of them about the hardships they faced, both financially and emotionally. 

In some cases, they had decided not to go home for fear that they would not be allowed to return to Mills for the fall semester due to travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic or to changes in US immigration policies. Yet paying for food, lodging, and other basic necessities in the United States was a financial struggle as they had little opportunity to work on campus after March, and their visa statuses did not allow them to work off campus. Some students were further affected by currency devaluations in their home countries or their families’ hardships when parents lost jobs due to COVID-19 or became ill themselves. 

Considering the difficult situation for these international students, the AAMC Board of Governors (BOG) organized a fundraising campaign to help cover their room and board, medical insurance, and essential needs for the summer. Find a report about this fundraising effort and others on the facing page. I am very grateful to everyone for their timely and generous participation in our effort; it has been a great source of support for each of the assisted students. 

During the summer, the BOG and its committees also worked to create pandemic-friendly events for this fall’s incoming students. Taco Tuesday had a different look this year: students picked up their tacos at the Tea Shop, and some of us governors were there to extend a socially-distanced welcome to Mills. Board meetings and other events this fall will be virtual. 

Many of us participated in President Elizabeth L. Hillman’s Zoom videoconference in June in which she shared news of the impact of COVID-19 on Mills. The pandemic compounds the financial deficits that the College has struggled with for more than a decade, despite ongoing efforts to balance the budget by making deep cuts and developing new revenue sources. It also contributes further to lower than optimal enrollment, which hurts the College’s long-term financial viability. 

In light of these difficulties, President Hillman also talked about the potential for an enhanced partnership with UC Berkeley, which could be one solution to Mills’ predicament. Following the Zoom-cast, the BOG collected questions and comments about the partnership from alumnae and hosted a virtual town hall meeting on September 17 to address these concerns. 

It is a time of great change, and this summer, Mills lost Leah Hardcastle MacNeil, MA ’51. Leah was a lifetime member of the BOG and a beloved alumna who will be missed by many. We are grateful for her many generous contributions to the AAMC.  

Finally, I want to close with my congratulations to Adrienne McMichael Foster ’74, our newly elected alumna trustee. The governors and I are happy to welcome Adrienne back to the AAMC Board of Governors, where she previously served for one term, and to wish her well in her dual role as a member of the College Board of Trustees. 

Mills has always been a place of beauty, and during these challenging times, it is also a place of tranquility. Summer is fast fading and fall is around the corner. I think these words from Laura Jaworski perfectly describe fall at Mills: 

An autumn breeze,
A string of words, 
A star-filled sky— 
All are poetry 

I wish you all good health, safety, and well-being wherever you are sheltering in place, and I look forward to seeing you back on campus when it is safe. 


Viji Nakka-Cammauf, MA ’82 
President, Alumnae Association of Mills College 

A report on the AAMC’s successful fundraising campaigns

The AAMC deeply appreciates the donors who supported two fundraising efforts by the association, its governors, and its committees this year. Contributions to these efforts support students of color and international students facing financial challenges. 

The Alumnae of Color Committee (AOCC) hosted a lively benefit concert for its endowed scholarship fund in February. It was the AOCC’s first event in the newly renovated Lisser Hall, and 100 people attended. By the end of the night, the group had raised more than $5,000! More recently, AAMC governor and AOCC cochair Gwen Jackson Foster ’67 launched another fundraising push on Facebook for the AOCC Endowed Scholarship Fund on her birthday, through which she raised an additional $1,245. The scholarship, created in honor of former Mills president Alecia DeCoudreaux, supports students of color at Mills. The AAMC commends Gwen and the entire AOCC for their efforts. 

In July, AAMC President Viji Nakka- Cammauf, MA ’82, and the Board of Governors launched a drive for an International Student Hardship Fund to aid international students who could not return home this summer because of travel restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19 yet lacked funds to cover living expenses in the United States (read more about their predicament in Viji’s letter on the facing page). The AAMC aimed to raise $7,500 from alumnae, which the association would match with a gift of $7,500. The goal was exceeded in just a matter of days! By September, donors had contributed more than $33,000; with the AAMC’s matching gift, the drive raised more than $40,500 to meet the full need of affected international students. 

Alumnae generosity is the lifeblood of the AAMC’s ability to support the College and its students. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued support during these difficult times. 

Nominate the next alumna trustee

Make your voice heard on the Mills College Board of Trustees and the AAMC Board of Governors. Nominate yourself or another willing Mills graduate as a candidate for the position of alumna trustee for the three-year term beginning July 1, 2021. Alumnae trustees serve on the boards of the College and the AAMC; they are expected to participate on committees on both boards. For more information on the responsibilities of the position and how to apply or nominate someone, click here. Nominations are due January 5, 2021, to the AAMC Nominating Committee at aamc@mills.edu or AAMC, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., MB #86, Oakland, CA 94613.

Now purchase AAMC merchandise online!

AAMC swag has officially entered the 21st century through our brand-new online store at aamcmerch.square.site!

While you can still purchase merchandise by emailing us at aamc@mills.edu, you now also have the option of browsing our inventory and making a purchase online.

You’ll find Pearl M pendants, gold and silver eucalyptus pins, eucalyptus-scented candles, scarves, T-shirts, ornaments, and more. Unless otherwise noted, all proceeds benefit the AAMC.

JUST ADDED: New limited edition Mills seal mugs! A portion of the sale of each mug supports Mills College.