Dr. Mills Outside the Classroom: A Profile

By Anne Brady

Photo by LeAnna Shanks©

Jeremy Hall

The Daemen INSIGHT is proud to bring you another installment of the faculty profile series. This week's profile is of Dr. Denise Mills. Who is she? What are her favorite books, foods, and things to do?

Dr. Denise G. Mills was born on May 7. She is an associate professor of the Spanish Language and Chair of the Department of Modern Languages. This is her twenty-first year teaching at Daemen College. The best thing about working here, according to Dr. Mills, is that "It's always new. Every semester you start fresh" and also "working with young people. I think if I worked with people my age all the time I'd be bored and boring." The things Dr. Mills doesn't like about working at the college are "minor things. I have the best job in the world," she says, but quickly adds "except I wish DS had air conditioning." I don't think it a far stretch to say that is the consensus among the general population of Daemen College.

Before Daemen, Dr. Mills' jobs included janitorial work, being a short order cook, and a hostess at a restaurant -- this job was her favorite by far, as it is where she met Richard, her husband of almost 36 years.


Dr. Mills' favorite color is purple, her favorite Spanish speaking country is Mexico (Spain is a close second). On a side note, Dr. Mills would like to encourage every student to look into study abroad opportunities. "You can take a whole semester and go and live in another culture. Once you graduate and get a job, you can't just say that you want to take four months off to visit India. However, in college, you can. Some of the greatest experiences in my life have been experiences of other cultures."

If she were stranded on a desert island, she'd want to read the literary work of Jorge Luis Borges. Dr. Mills' favorite Wick food is the chicken salad, and off campus her favorites are turkey, chocolate, and Mexican food. There is no shortage of good food for Dr. Mills -- her husband is the Chair of the Culinary Arts Department at the ECC city campus, and does 85 percent of the cooking and food shopping for the family.

Speaking of family, Dr. Mills has three children -- two daughters, Anna and Laura, and a son, Nick. Of motherhood, she says, "It's great because I have a great husband, but I do think parenting can be difficult. The thing that makes it most difficult is that you learn on the job and there's no instruction manual." The methodology she used seemed to be the right one, however, because her children are very successful. Anna lives in Washington, D.C. and works at the National Opera Company as director of public relations. Laura lives in London, working as an editor and researcher for a company that publishes law firm guides. And Nick is a snow board supervisor at Stratton Mountain Resort in Vermont.

The INSIGHT also polled Dr. Mills to gauge her opinion on a few topics -- some long-standing institutions, some current. Here is what she had to say.

On gossip:
She classifies it into three categories: Fun gossip: "talking to your friends, teasing each other"; mean gossip: "cruel and cowardly"; and celebrity gossip, which "is weird. Do people really care if Brad and Angelina are breaking up?" adding that she has a life of her own.

"I remember MTV when it first started. I loved it because there was real M in MTV. It was great because you could get exposed to new music, but I haven't watched MTV in a long time because whenever I turn on MTV, there's never any M."

On reality TV:
"The worst. I don't understand why these people are being made famous. Their lives are boring. People need to live their own life and not watch others pretend to live theirs." On Facebook: "I don't use it myself" (mostly because of protests from her children). "In some ways I think it’s goofy (people claim to have 600 friends, and they don't, really) but in other ways it's cool. You can peek into people's lives, communicate, and stay in touch."

On politics:
"Don't ask, don't tell should have been repealed ten years ago. Gay marriage should be legal because there are only equal and unequal; you can't say you stand for equality if not all people get the same equality."

In conclusion, Dr. Mills is a Spanish professor with an extreme love for the language she teaches. But she is also a unique, fun-loving person outside of class. She is a wife, mother, and a well-rounded individual who the students of Daemen College are lucky to have on campus.

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