We are rapidly approaching the new year. And so, in that spirit, we have some exciting updates to share with you!
The first update is bittersweet. After a review of several options and much reflection, our Board of Trustees has voted to sell our Le Conte Avenue property and to vacate the building at the close of this academic year. Yet Starr King is not the building; it’s the people. The spirit of learning and community, of prophetic witness and deep joy that is Starr King remains ever present, and will certainly follow us to our new home.
I’m also thrilled to announce that Starr King has signed a letter of intent with Mills College in Oakland, CA to co-locate our school on the Mills campus in August 2020. Mills is a nationally renowned independent liberal arts college for women and gender non-binary students, with graduate programs for all genders. Founded as the Young Ladies’ Seminary in 1852, Mills has a long legacy of defying convention and breaking barriers to ensure that all people have access to high-quality instruction. Their educational philosophy beautifully matches our own commitment to educating to counter oppressions.
Our decision to co-locate with Mills brings with it a host of opportunities that will help us grow stronger and more fully live into our mission. Located on a sprawling 135-acre campus in East Oakland, Mills is a perfect mix of state-of-the-art facilities and the natural world. We will also be rooted in a community filled with opportunities to hone our skills in social justice and sacred social change. We are particularly excited at the likelihood of accessing traditional student housing on campus, reducing the financial burden for students who would otherwise have to find their own housing in a deeply competitive market.
Co-locating at Mills College also reconnects us to an earlier part of Starr King’s history through a common ancestor: Dr. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt. Dr. Reinhardt was a renowned educator, activist and leader within American Unitarianism. She served as the first woman moderator of the American Unitarian Association, was a member of the association’s first Commission on Appraisal, and was a member of Starr King’s Board of Trustees. In 1981, Starr King established an endowed faculty position in her name, currently held by Dr. Gabriella Lettini, to ensure a feminist voice and presence on our faculty. For 27 years, Dr. Reinhardt also served as president of Mills College, making her the longest serving president in that school’s history. Her legacy creates a beautiful synergy that now brings our two schools together in partnership.
Of course, there are terms to be negotiated and more details to come. And we must make time and space to say goodbye to the place Starr King has called home longer than any other in our history. But for now, let us celebrate this important step into our future! In the new year, we will schedule another community Q&A so that you can ask questions, share concerns and learn more about what lies before us. Please check the New Beginnings page on our website for the date and time of those meetings, as well as our usual updates as news develops.
At this turning of the year, let us embrace all that has come before, and rejoice in all that is to come. Thank you for walking this path with us. The future of Starr King is bright, and much of that brightness rests with you!
The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, President
Starr King School for the Ministry