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A farewell and green shoots as College Principal retires

Milton Keynes College Group said farewell to Principal and CEO, Dr Julie Mills OBE on Friday, bringing an end to a thirty-two year career as a teacher and leader.

As part of the day Dr Mills planted a tree as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy project to Plant a tree for the Jubilee. In fact, seventy trees are going to be planted on the Group’s campuses in 2022 – one for each year of Her Majesty’s reign. At her farewell event, attended by large numbers of staff and students, it was also announced that the College Group would be funding a new volunteering scheme, the College in the Community Pledge. Starting in the autumn term, staff will be able to take a day per year, fully paid, helping a good cause of their choice. A number of volunteering charities were on hand to give out information and to entice new recruits to their efforts.

Dr Mills first came to the College in 1990 as a finance lecturer. After progressing to the role of the College’s deputy head of education at nearby HMP Woodhill, she led a bid for a contract to provide offender learning in multiple prisons around the country. Milton Keynes College is still one of the key contractors today looking after various institutions.

Dr Mills has overseen the transformation of the College into a group which beyond Further Education and offender learning now includes the South Central Institute of Technology at Bletchley, which provides training for a thousand people a year with the tech skills in shortest supply in the region.

Alongside her work running the College and overseeing its receipt of a “good” Ofsted grade, Dr Mills, is a highly respected thinker and doer in the areas of education, skills, social justice and diversity. She was formerly named Principal of the Year by the National Centre for Diversity (NCFD) and has also served as chair of the Helena Kennedy Foundation and of Women Leaders UK. She is a champion for all things Milton Keynes, an ardent fan of the Milton Keynes Dons and a trustee of the MK Dons Sport and Education Trust. Dr Mills was recognized with an OBE in the Queen’s 2019 Birthday Honours List.

Deputy CEO for Milton Keynes College Group, Sally Alexander, says, “Julie’s leadership has seen the College Group develop and grow to an extent nobody could have imagined when she first walked through the doors in 1990, or even when she took over as Principal in 2011. Her hard work and commitment to the institution and the people who work here, staff and students alike, cannot be overstated. She has no idea how much we’re all going to miss her, and we’re all committed to carrying on her fantastic work to build fairer futures in our communities”.

Dr Julie Mills OBE, CEO and Group Principal of Milton Keynes College Group, comments “I’m overwhelmed after such a warm farewell from colleagues, partner organisations and friends. It’s been a privilege to have spent my time here working with passionate, dedicated people who have made incredible contributions to the lives of our students and the wider Milton Keynes community. I have no doubt that under Sally’s leadership, the College Group will continue to transform lives in our city of collaboration, innovation and talent”.

Dr Mills’ tree and the sixty-nine others due to be planted will all be native British species including Hornbeam, Siler Birch, Rowan and Beech. The College will also have its own orchard for the first time comprising different varieties of apples, pears, plums, mulberries and figs.

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