In keeping with our forward-thinking mission, we were the first to provide financial support to Mills College’s when it began its MBA program in 2000, with the establishment of the Elfenworks Lectureship on Leadership, Ethics and Entrepreneurship. In addition, our CEO served on the external advisory board of the Graduate School of Business through three successive changes of administration. In 2008, we were pleased to announce leadership support for a new Center  for Socially Responsible Business at the Graduate School of Business, with a mission to advance the study and practice and values of SRB, reaching out to Bay area firms to form alliances and fostering innovations in graduate business education. The Center’s philosophical roots are based on the attitudes of thinkers and businesspersons such as Dave Packard, co-founder of H-P, who said a company exists not simply to make money, but to make a contribution to society. The Center focuses on examining how businesses can improve social conditions in practical ways that do not harm, and may even help, their bottom line; that is, how businesses can do well financially by doing good socially. Toward this end, the Center promotes the integration of ethical principles of justice and fairness into business decision-making. It also advances the study of how business activities affect human welfare and the natural environment, and vice versa. Finally, the Center aims to align business interests with broader social goals. For example, the Center promotes the discovery and implementation of business policies and practices that reduce disease, hunger, malnutrition, and poverty, that improve human and civil rights, and that sustain the natural environment.  The Center also sponsors an Annual Conference and Lecture Series to bring together scholars, practitioners, policy makers, and students to share the latest developments in socially responsible business practice. This conference will also disseminate new knowledge through the media to the public and the wider business community. The Center will also sponsor a public lecture series, to provide a platform for visionaries and leaders in the field to inspire and educate a broader public about socially responsible business.

Results

Elfenworks support was sufficient to establish and sustain the Center for at least its first three years, but the thrifty Dean was able to stretch the funds out even further while seeking additional funding to ensure the Center can continue its core mission of developing future generations of socially responsible business leaders. Below is the feedback we received from President Janet Holmgren and Dean Nancy Thornborrow, regarding the CSRB:

“You have made Mills’ Center for Socially Responsible Business possible. The entire Mills community is fortunate that you recognize and nurture the abilities of talented women and value the positive effects of education in improving people’s lives and our world.” —Janet Holmgren President, May 8, 2008

“We are especially grateful for your vision and generosity in establishing the Center for Socially Responsible Business (CSRB). The CSRB strengthens our MBA program’s foci on the integration of ethical principles into business decision-making and understanding how business activities impact human welfare and the natural environment. With your partnership, Mills is preparing entrepreneurial women to become tomorrow’s leaders of business and non-profit organizations around the world. Thanks to you, Mills will educate more women to be collaborative leaders who understand how important diversity, ethical leadership, social responsibility, and sustainability are to business success.” —Janet Holmgren President, May 27 2010

“In 2001, the very first year of the Mills MBA program, this was our first major gift, endowing one of our required core courses, Ethics, Leadership and Entrepreneurship. An endowed gift means that the Mills Graduate School of Business will always have as a requirement that all of its students study ethical behavior in business and make it a priority in their professional lives. As you may recall, 2001 was a time of great national concern over corporate scandal and corruption. (Elfenworks) saw the significance of an ethics requirement and made this gift when our program had only 12 students and many MBA programs were not even requiring that their students take a course in ethics. This foresight and generosity were extraordinarily important to those of us undertaking the establishment of a new professional degree program focused on creating more women business leaders. The confidence demonstrated in our ability to achieve this goal was extremely significant in the first year of our program as it helped to validate what we were doing and inspired others to become involved. I will forever be grateful.” —Nancy Thornborrow, Dean (via email), February 22, 2007

 

Elisabeth Siekhaus / Elfenworks Scholarship 

We originally endowed an interdisciplinary course, co-taught by Mills faculty from the German and Music departments, entitled “An Die Musik: German Poetry & Music” to give students a deep understanding of the connection between classical music and its roots in German culture. It includes materials from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, highlighting the 19th century when dramatic and lyric poems by Goethe, his contemporaries and followers were set to music by composers such as Schubert, Schumann and many others. The resulting new [chamber music] genre of “Lied” is flourishing still in today’s concert halls the world over.  After the retirement of Dr. Elisabeth Siekhaus, the endowment was modified as a scholarship.

Other Support Provided

  • Underwrote the Law School feasibility study, wondering: should the college endeavor to offer legal studies? Could Mills differentiate itself as a law school with a social conscience? How attractive would a law school be, based on Mills’ historic strengths as a top-rated liberal arts school, offering strategic leadership, vision, and openness to experimentation and change in an atmosphere conducive to leadership and the advancement of women? Could a law school at Mills incorporate practical experience in public interest / pro bono law as well? How would this fit within the school’s strategic plan? We underwrote the feasibility study to get some answers. The results from the study were positive, but this initiative has been set aside while the college rededicates itself to its historic areas of strength including science and liberal arts and the existing graduate schools, a wise and well-considered decision.
  • Established the Elfenworks – Aaron Rosand Music Lesson Scholarship Fund.
  • Brought American Music Center career resources on campus, free of charge to Mills students.
  • Provided funds for needed repairs to electronic equipment.
  • Provided two-year residency for the Grammy-Quartet San Francisco to work and perform with students and faculty.
  • Permanently endowed the Mills Performing Group and expanded its charter beyond modern music.

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About Mills College of California
For over one hundred and fifty years Mills College has served as a pioneer in teaching women to be socially responsible, innovative, and creative leaders in society. Mills undergraduate women are well known for their commitment to justice, their interest in international affairs, their activism on behalf of others, etc.  The Center for Socially Responsible Business examines how businesses can improve social conditions in practical ways, ways that do not harm—and may even help—their bottom lines. Businesses can flourish financially by doing good, socially. Contact:  www.mills.edu & http://www.mills.edu/mba/
5000 MacArthur Blvd.,  Oakland, CA 94613 ~ 510.430.2255.

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