A native of Iowa, Mills grew up in Augusta, Georgia and graduated from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia with a B.A. degree in English. Mills went on to earn his M.A. in Literature and an Ed.D. in Curriculum Studies.
Mills serves as a faculty member in the University College as Coordinator for Core and Integrative Learning and Co-Director of the Life of the Mind Program. He has taught graduate level education, literature, writing, cultural studies and education at UNC since 2005. He previously taught writing and literature at Georgia Southern University for 16 years in the Department of Writing and Linguistics, where he also served as Coordinator for Advisement and Recruitment. In both 1998 and 2005, Mills was awarded the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) Outstanding Advising Certificate of Merit for Faculty Academic Advising and was named Georgia Southern University's 1997-1998 Advisor of the Year. At GSU, he served on the University's Strategic Planning Council, Faculty Senate Executive Committee, SACS Reaccreditation Committee, NCAA Recertification Committee, and Student Media Advisory Board. Mills also served for 10 years as faculty advisor to the university's literary magazine Miscellany.
At UNC, Mills has served on many University boards and committees, chairing the Academic Policies Committee, the Academic Integrity Task Force, and the Board of Athletic Control, as well as serving on the President's Planning Council, NCAA Recertification Committee, Sexual Harassment Task Force, among others. Mills served as a Faculty Senator from 2006-2011 and was the University’s Faculty Athletics Representative from 2007-2011. Mills presently serves as Vice-Chair of the Liberal Arts Council, and is a member of both the Honors Program Advisory Council and University Common Book Committee. At the Department level, Mills has also served on the Writer's Conference Committee and Writing Committee. Mills is presently Associate Editor for the UNC based academic print journal The CEA Critic, which is an official publication of the College English Association. From 2004-2012, Mills was Associate Editor of the academic print journal English Education, which is published by the Conference on English Education, National Council of Teachers of English. Mills also presently serves on the UNC Undergraduate Research Journal Advisory Committee.
Mills is married to Dr. Denise A. Battles, Dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences at UNC.