Milligan College

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Milligan College
Milligan College Logo
Motto Ago Deo Fideo Et Amore "Go with God in Faith and Love"
Type Private
Established 1866
Affiliation Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, churches of Christ (a cappella) and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Endowment $23,385,144 (2014)
President Dr. William B. Greer
Administrative staff
Students 1194
Undergraduates 892
Postgraduates 211
Location Milligan College, Tennessee, United States
Campus Suburban
Colors Black & Orange
Nickname Buffaloes

Milligan College is a selective Christian liberal arts college founded in 1866 and located in the mountains of Upper East Tennessee and the Tri-Cities region of the state. The school has a student population of 1,200 students as well as a 195-acre (0.79 km2) campus that is located several miles from downtown Johnson City. The school is consistently ranked as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country and well known for its core humanities program. Milligan was named a "College of Distinction" in 2011.[1] In 2016, the college was named the number two institution of higher education in the state of Tennessee, second only to Vanderbilt University[2] and was ranked one of the best colleges in the nation by the 2017 edition of The Princeton Review[3]

Milligan College is historically related to the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the a cappella Churches of Christ, with about 35 percent of the student body coming from these religious groups. While the college maintains close ties with the churches which founded it, the school welcomes students from all backgrounds. The college offers over 30 undergraduate programs of study and four graduate programs. As part of its focus on faith, Milligan strives to develop authentic Christian community, deep Christian spirituality, and a passion for Christian service among its students. The college works to prepare students to join God's work of redemption and reconciliation in the larger world.


The school began as an endeavor of the Rev. Wilson G. Barker, a Disciples of Christ minister, and the Buffalo Creek Christian Church, a congregation of the Disciples of Christ located on Buffalo Creek in Carter County, Tennessee. While it began as a private secondary school known as the Buffalo Male and Female Institute, the institution was elevated to the collegiate level in 1881 with the arrival of the Rev. Dr. Josephus Hopwood and his wife Sarah LaRue Hopwood. Hopwood, a Disciples of Christ minister and educator, came to the school with the understanding that it would become a liberal arts college to train leaders for Disciples of Christ churches and the communities of Appalachia. The name was changed to Milligan College in 1881 in honor of the Professor Robert Milligan, president and professor of Biblical Studies at the College of the Bible, Kentucky University (now Lexington Theological Seminary). Hopwood continued to serve the school as president until 1903 when he left to found Virginia Christian College (now Lynchburg College) in Lynchburg, Virginia. He returned for an interim presidency in 1915–1917.

Dr. Henry Derthick's presidency is perhaps the most defining administration in early the history of the college. He served from 1917 to 1940 and during this tenure the college grew and gained a reputation for excellence in the region. Derthick succeeded in bringing the college through the Great Depression.

In 1943, Milligan became the only college in the nation to completely turn its facilities over to the Naval training programs. The V-12 Navy College Training Program utilized the college's campus from 1943 to 1945.[4]

The school resumed its civilian education programs in 1945, though facing a significant financial crisis. The board of trustees called Dr. Dean E. Walker, a Disciples of Christ minister and educator, then professor at the seminary of Butler University (now Christian Theological Seminary), to become the college's president. Walker's administration was marked by rapid growth, securing financial stability for the college, and the realization of regional accreditation for the college's academic programs through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.[citation needed] During Walker's tenure he also led the way in establishing Emmanuel Christian Seminary, a graduate theological seminary now located adjacent to the college's campus near Johnson City, which became one of the graduate schools of the college in 2014.

Since the 1960s Milligan has grown in stature in the region and has become one of the premiere private, church-related liberal arts colleges in the South.[5] The school was named a "College of Distinction" in 2011.[1] The college's education programs are among its most popular and well respected in the region. The business and communications programs are also popular with students.

Donald Jeanes (Milligan Class of 1968), a minister and educator of the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, became the fourteenth president of the college in 1997. He is a graduate of the college, holds a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from neighboring Emmanuel School of Religion, and was granted an honorary doctoral degree by Milligan College. Jeanes announced his retirement effective July 15, 2011. On March 18, 2011, the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Bill Greer (Milligan Class of 1985) as the 15th president; Dr. Greer assumed leadership of the college on July 15, 2011.[6] Greer's appointment marks the first time in the college's existence that anyone other than a minister will have served as president. Greer is an economist, scholar, and business leader who holds a Ph.D. in Business and Economics from the University of Tennessee and has taught at the college for more than 20 years.

In 2014, the college announced a complete reorganization of its academic programs into five schools of research and study: a school of arts and humanities, the William B. Green School of Business and Technology, a school of science and allied health, a school of social sciences and education, and a school of Bible and ministry, which includes Emmanuel Christian Seminary. The reorganization and expansion of the college's academic programs included not only the addition of a new engineering program and three new masters programs through the integration of the seminary, but also the college's first doctoral program with the addition of the Doctor of Ministry degree through Emmanuel. With the addition of a degree in engineering in 2016, Milligan became one of a select number of small liberal arts colleges to offer education in the field of engineering. The college announced the addition of a second doctoral degree, the doctor of education (Ed.D.) in the fall of 2016. By the summer of 2017, the school will offer over 100 academic programs leading to bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees.


The Elizabeth Leitner Gregory Center for the Liberal Arts, a center for performing arts, opened in January 2008.[citation needed] It features a 300-seat theater, photography labs, and classrooms for use by the fine arts programs at the college.

In recent years, the college has made a commitment to better stewardship of the environment, focusing on reduced consumption of non-renewable products, recycling, and renewable sources of energy.[citation needed] The new fitness center was the first green building in Carter County, Tennessee.

Student life[edit]

As a church-related liberal arts college, Milligan remains closely aligned with the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, a capella churches of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the three religious bodies that have traditionally supported the school. A campus ministry program and culture of service exist on campus. Alcohol and tobacco use are prohibited on campus.


Milligan College athletic teams, nicknamed athletically as the Buffaloes, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, cycling, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, cycling, dance, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track & field and volleyball.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ a b [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3].
  4. ^ "Milligan College once Navy training center during World War II". Johnson City Press. 2011. Retrieved September 29, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Best Colleges - College Rankings - US News Education - US News". 
  6. ^ "Milligan College". "Greer Named 15th President of Milligan". Retrieved May 1, 2011. 
  7. ^ Falk, Peter Hastings, Who was Who in American Art, 1564-1975, Vol I, Sounds View Press, Madison CT, 1999, p. 421
  8. ^ Frank Knight
  9. ^ "History of the Presidency - Radford University". 

External links[edit]