Wrapping Up Academic Loose Ends

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When we spoke with Associate Provost Beth Kochly in early May to get a report on the academic teach-out, she was ecstatic. “As of yesterday, we’ve finalized the list of courses that we’re going to teach in the fall, which is a huge win!” she said.

It took painstaking, thoughtful work to compile the offerings for returning Mills students; the Northeastern provost’s office reverse-engineered the slate by identifying which courses each one still needs to graduate. By the time of our interview, the bulk of the work to match counselors with returning students and create degree paths had been completed—though a few had just recently decided to stay on with Mills College at Northeastern University and were beginning the process.

Between courses for Mills students finishing their degrees and new ones for Northeastern first-years on campus this fall, continuing Mills faculty members are now being plugged into an extensive class schedule. “We’re filling up our current faculty’s loads first. Anything our faculty has the expertise to teach, they get to teach it,” Kochly said. However, some of those new Northeastern courses include subjects new to Mills: “We’re offering four to five classes in architecture, and we don’t have anyone who can teach that!” Kochly added. “In cases like that where we do need to hire, we’re working with Northeastern on how to do that.” Any additional faculty members will be brought on board after the merger is finalized, starting July 1.

It promises to be a fascinating year for the faculty members—adjunct and tenured. The vast majority of professors who finished out the 2021-22 academic year at Mills will stay through the Northeastern merger. “Our department heads and our Center for Faculty Excellence have been working on professional development opportunities for all of our faculty, and creating spaces to promote scholarly work—we don’t want to forget that,” Kochly said.

Making that room for creative thought will benefit reconstructing the curriculum during this interstitial year in which several of the College’s most characteristic programs will be put on pause while Northeastern seeks reaccreditation. “The things we do really well—those are the exact things that have to be put on hold for one year,” she said. “We can’t do them because Northeastern doesn’t already do them, but they’re ultimately why Northeastern is interested in us.”

All faculty and staff members will also see an uptick in their benefits package after the merger. After several years of no retirement matching, Mills employees making the transition to Northeastern will see that reinstated, and the vacation-day baseline starts at 15 days for the newest employees rather than 10.