AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin has named Lillian Mills as the permanent dean of the McCombs School of Business. Mills has held the role of interim dean since April 2020 following the appointment of Jay Hartzell as president. Mills’ permanent appointment as dean is effective immediately.
Mills is the first woman to serve as permanent dean of McCombs in the school’s nearly 100-year history.
“I’ve seen Lil’s strengths as a leader for many years, dating back to our time as department chairs together. Most recently, we’ve all observed the incredible job she’s done as interim dean during the pandemic. After a highly competitive national search, it was clear we already had the best candidate right here at UT,” said Jay Hartzell, president of UT Austin. “Beyond her infectious energy and sense of optimism, she exemplifies the drive for excellence in teaching and research that we seek to instill across the Forty acres.”
As the interim dean, Mills has been heavily involved in leading operations and strategies to continue advancing the mission of the college amid a pandemic. Mills brings a breadth of experience, from industry to the classroom and serving as department chair.
“I am so honored to serve McCombs, especially at this time, because together we are stronger,” Mills said. “Our staff, faculty and alumni hold each student’s heart, education and careers with complete commitment, and I’m confident going forward that we’ll maintain the same dedication to our students and the university during this time of transition back to normalcy.”
Mills joined Texas McCombs in 2006, and during the past 15 years, she has been a top-ranked researcher and academic citizen, a champion for education in multiple, diverse settings, a nationally renowned and award-winning classroom educator, and a scholar with consistent dedication to instructional innovation at the university, college and department levels.
She received a Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Michigan and master’s and undergraduate degrees in accounting from the University of Florida. Prior to joining McCombs, Mills spent a year at the U.S. Treasury Department as the Stanley Surrey senior research fellow in the Office of Tax Analysis. She was also an assistant and associate professor of accounting at the University of Arizona from 1997 to 2005, and she practiced professionally with two national CPA firms from 1981 to 1989, shaping her research on earnings management.
Mills is also known for her passionate teaching and creating a successful learning environment, further proved with dozens of teaching awards since joining the faculty in 2006. In 2019, Professor Mills was the first to receive the McCombs Undergraduate Amplify Award, a student-managed award designed to recognize faculty members who foster highly inclusive classrooms and improve learning outcomes. She has also recently been nominated by McCombs for the university’s Academy of Distinguished Teaching Awards; across 10 sections of introductory taxation to undergraduate students, her average overall instructor rating was 4.8 (5.0 in four sections), well above the average for the school and the university.
Beyond her classroom performance, Mills has provided significant service to the department, school and the university. From 2011 to 2015, she served as chair of the Accounting Department, and since 2014, she has held the Beverly H. and William P. O’Hara Chair in Business, raising $500,000 to fund an initiative for underrepresented minority accounting students. Further, she brought in $1 million in MPA scholarships directed to tax scholars, and other improvements in annual giving and scholarship endowments. She has not only secured significant funding but has also championed diversity and mentored junior colleagues and doctoral students. She is also an active member of both the McCombs Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Promotion and Tenure Committee.
For media inquiries, please contact Catenya McHenry, communications director at the McCombs School, at 512-471-5218.