Judge Approves $1.25M Settlement for Former Mills College Students

Mills College merged with Northeastern University in 2022. Some of its former students claimed that Mills misrepresented the college's closure and caused them significant hardship.
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Published on November 15, 2023
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  • Mills College in Oakland, California, merged with Northeastern University on July 1, 2022.
  • Mills College alums fought to keep the women's college independent from Northeastern.
  • More than 400 former students claimed that Mills misrepresented the merger with Northeastern University after 170 years as an independent women's college.
  • Despite settling, Mills College and Northeastern still deny all allegations.

Mills College in Oakland, California, has settled a lawsuit filed by former students alleging that the institution misrepresented its July 2022 merger with Northeastern University after 170 years as an independent women's college.

Law firms representing 408 former students announced that an Alameda County Superior Court judge preliminarily approved the $1.25 million settlement despite Mills College and Northeastern University denying the allegations.

Mills College merged with Northeastern University on July 1, 2022, following financial difficulties caused by budget deficits, declining enrollment, and a high tuition-discount rate. It is now known as Mills College at Northeastern University.

The plaintiffs claimed they faced significant hardships due to the sudden merger and could not finish their degrees before the college closed, according to law firms Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. and Nichols Kaster, LLP. In contrast, Mills and Northeastern claimed they worked with every student to reach the best result through a difficult situation.

The plaintiffs hope they can remedy the increased educational costs caused by the merger while Mills College at Northeastern University can continue peaceably without the distractions of claims and lawsuit allegations, the law firms said in a press release.

"We are glad that we are able to get some relief for students who came to us for help after so much unexpected turmoil, to help them move on with the next chapters of their promising educational trajectories and careers," said one of the plaintiffs' lawyers, Bryan Schwartz, in the release.

The Alumnae Association of Mills College, the UC Mills Campaign, and the Save Mills College Coalition all fought to preserve Mills as an independent college. The UC Mills Campaign proposed the University of California system adopt Mills College in a "Hail Mary" attempt.

Viji Nakka-Cammauf, then a college board of trustees member and Mills Alumnae Association president, pursued legal action to reveal financial information Nakka-Cammauf claimed Mills withheld and requested a 60-day restraining order on the merger until a records review.

The restraining order lasted from Aug. 16-Sept. 3, 2021. Later that September, the two institutions finalized the merger.

Students who finished their studies before June 30, 2022, graduated with a Mills College degree; any completion after that date would be a degree from Mills College at Northeastern University.