Yvonne Daniel was frustrated.
The dispute between her alma mater, Mills College, and its alumni association led to fierce disagreements over the college’s plan to merge with another university, and caused both parties to pay the price of money and time for this. Daniel has had enough.
“When I think about the increasing legal fees now, I see that both institutions are bankrupt,” said Daniel, a 1975 graduate of the college and a former member of the college’s board of directors. “We care about Mills. We hope Mills will survive. We are not interested in fighting to the point where neither organization can survive.”
Daniel has been serving at the Women’s College in Oakland, California for many years, first as a dance instructor and later as a member of the Alumni Association Council. She represents one aspect of the growing division between alumni who support litigation and alumni who do not support litigation.
The four alumni trustees filed a lawsuit against several university officials, including university president Elizabeth Hillman, in June. The lawsuit alleges that the trustee did not receive a large number of requested financial documents, and without this information, it would be impossible to make an informed decision about the future of the women’s college. The plaintiff asked the court to issue a restraining order against the college until the documents were provided in an accessible manner.
Soon after the complaint was filed, two alumni trustees-Deborah Wood and Adrian Foster-withdrew with little public explanation. The remaining plaintiffs Viji Nakka-Cammauf and Tara Singh continued to file lawsuits.
At the same time, the management of the college is Negotiations with Northeastern UniversityIf the university trustees vote to advance the deal, the Boston institution will acquire Mills and allow the university to remain open, despite the new name and new governance.
The lawsuit is the only thing that prevents the college from voting on this deal, and it has become a representative of a greater struggle for Mills’ future.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Stephen Prido Rule on monday Mills must electronically deliver hundreds of requested financial documents to Nakka-Cammauf, chairman of the Mills College Alumni Association. Pulido also extended a restraining order to prevent the college from voting or signing an agreement with Northeastern University as early as September 3rd.
AAMC leaders touted the Pulido ruling as a victory for the association and Mills alumni.
“Fortunately, the Alameda County High Court has intervened and issued a ruling in support of the truth and transparency of Mills College in the future, otherwise it will continue to advance a confidential merger,” said Alexa Pagonas, vice chairman of the AAMC Board of Directors, on Monday. Said in a statement. “I am grateful that the court is aware of the importance and history of this decision and will give Dr. Nakka-Cammauf time to review thousands of pages of documents and make an informed decision.”
AAMC did not respond to a request for comment, and has stated that its members support the lawsuit for several weeks. The association conducted a survey of its members in June to gauge the interest of alumni in such actions. According to the results of the survey on the AAMC website, more than four-fifths of alumni said they “hope that AAMC will stop the process of dismantling Mills as a degree-granting university.” Slightly more than half of the interviewees said they want the association to “spend as much as needed”, and only a quarter of the interviewees said they support AAMC to use up to half of its assets for this work.
AAMC has spent at least $165,000 on litigation, although this total has not been updated since May. The website stated that the June bill was “very important” because most of the legal work was completed in June. It did not mention legal fees in July or August.
Daniel criticized the survey, saying that the problem is guiding and the sample size is small. According to the AAMC website, only more than 1,200 alumni responded to the survey.
“The survey sent out has preconceived issues. It is only advancing an agenda, and it is clear that the AAMC leadership has adopted this agenda,” Daniel said.
AAMC did not receive the support of many alumni, Estrellita Redus (Estrellita Redus) said that she graduated from Mills University in 1965 and served as a university director and a member of the AAMC board of directors. Redus and Daniel recently co-written a letter to Mills alumni explaining their opposition to the lawsuit.
“We don’t think our alumni association will represent us when suing our favorite universities,” Redus said.
13 alumni trustees of the college are collectively appointed A statement The lawsuit was lambasted last week before Judge Prideau made a ruling.
“We oppose AAMC officials’ claim that their organization represents all 26,000 graduates of the college. We believe that the lawsuit filed by AAMC against the college is ill-considered, divisive, and detrimental to Mills’ future,” the trustee wrote. “Although we want Mills alumni to have strong and diverse views, we are shocked by the disregard shown by the AAMC leadership to our students, faculty, and The community is broader.”
The Color Alumni Committee, a committee within the AAMC, also opposed the lawsuit on Monday. The organization stated that the alumni association should focus on fundraising rather than spending its assets on legal fees. It also disputed the alleged efforts of AAMC leaders to remove Wood and Foster (two alumni trustees who withdrew from the lawsuit) from their positions on the association’s board of directors.
The committee wrote: “It is no good to propose the removal of Adrienne Foster and Debi Wood, the trustees of alumni, and to publicly attack them.” “The trustees Foster and Wood has provided excellent services to AOCC and AAMC during his tenure, and we support them to reconsider their right to their original role as plaintiffs in litigation based on the needs of Mills and AAMC and their own integrity.”
Daniel and Redus hope that AAMC will soon change their strategy and work with Mills officials to help determine the best path forward for students and employees of this 169-year-old institution.
“At our rate of development, we will have two financially failed institutions-Mills College and AAMC,” Daniel said. “The alumni association is usually an active organization, but its role is to support and cooperate, and to ensure that the connection between students and alumni is established.”