Milligan University

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Milligan University
Milligan College Logo
Ago Deo Fideo Et Amore
Motto in English
Go with God in Faith and Love
TypePrivate university
Religious affiliation
Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ (a cappella), and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Endowment$32,700,000 (2017)
PresidentDr. William B. Greer
Administrative staff
Location, ,
United States

36°18′06″N 82°17′42″W / 36.3017°N 82.2951°W / 36.3017; -82.2951Coordinates: 36°18′06″N 82°17′42″W / 36.3017°N 82.2951°W / 36.3017; -82.2951
Colors    Black & Orange
NicknameMilligan Buffaloes

Milligan University is a private Christian liberal arts university in the town of Milligan College, Tennessee. Founded in 1866 as the Buffalo Male and Female Institute, and known as Milligan College from 1881 to May 2020, the school has a student population of more than 1,200 students, most of whom reside and study on its 235-acre (0.95 km2) campus. Milligan University 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. The university offers over 100 programs of study leading to both undergraduate and graduate degrees.


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 served from 1917 to 1940.

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.[1]

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.[2] 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.[3] The school was named a "College of Distinction" in 2011.[4]

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.[5] 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.

In the Spring of 2020, the university drew some scrutiny for its views of and actions related to gay and lesbian people after the university fired a professor for being in a same-sex relationship.[6] This administrative decision was founded on a document drafted in 2015 detailing the administration's views on human sexuality.[7] The statement makes contested claims about what the Bible has to say about human sexuality. Milligan President Bill Greer has stated in emails to the campus community that there will be "critical conversations" about human sexuality on campus during the Spring 2021 semester; however, Greer has also stated that these conversations will not have policy change in view as a goal.


The Elizabeth Leitner Gregory Center for the Liberal Arts, a center for performing arts, opened on January 16, 2008.[8] It features a 300-seat theater, photography labs, and classrooms for use by the fine arts programs at the university.

Student life[edit]

As a church-related liberal arts university, 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.[9][10][11] Alcohol and tobacco use are prohibited on campus. On August 1, 2019, the university changed its alcohol policy to allow students over the age of 21 to drink alcohol off campus.[12][13]

The Stampede is Milligan University's student-run newspaper. It was founded in 1925. Its staff also operate a student-run broadcast news service and news website.[14]


Milligan University 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, volleyball, 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. ^ "Milligan College once Navy training center during World War II". Johnson City Press. 2011. Retrieved September 29, 2011.
  2. ^ "Accreditation". Milligan University. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  3. ^ "Best Colleges - College Rankings - US News Education - US News".
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-01. Retrieved 2011-08-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Milligan College". "Greer Named 15th President of Milligan". Archived from the original on May 26, 2011. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  6. ^ "Forced resignation of Milligan University professor heightens calls for change, dialogue regarding LGBTQ community". WJHL | Tri-Cities News & Weather. 2020-10-02. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  7. ^ {{Cite web|date=2015|title=Milligan Administration Statement on Human Sexuality|url=
  8. ^ "Dedication set for Feb. 1; Tickets go on sale for opening weekend performance". Milligan University. 16 January 2008. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  9. ^ "About". Milligan University. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  10. ^ "Campus Ministry". Milligan University. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  11. ^ "A Christ-Centered University". Milligan University. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  12. ^ Halloran, Maggie (15 March 2019). "Greer Announces Change to Alcohol Policy at SGA Meeting". The Stampede. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  13. ^ Weber, Kennedy; Morel, Jordyn (15 March 2019). "Milligan Trustees Vote to Change Alcohol Policy". The Stampede. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  14. ^ "Info". The Stampede. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  15. ^ "Buddy Bolding Enters Milligan College Hall of Fame". Longwood University Athletics. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  16. ^ Falk, Peter Hastings, Who was Who in American Art, 1564-1975, Vol I, Sounds View Press, Madison CT, 1999, p. 421
  17. ^ "Biography". Congressman David Davis. Archived from the original on 30 October 2008. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  18. ^ "Del Harris". National Basketball Association. Archived from the original on 31 January 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  19. ^ Milligan College (1913). Milligan College New Horizon, 1909-1914. P. H. Welshimer Memorial Library Milligan College. Milligan College.
  20. ^ "History of the Presidency - Radford University". Archived from the original on 2010-05-27.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Birchfield, Jeff (18 August 2020). "Milligan legend Duard Walker dies at 95". Johnson City Press. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  23. ^ a b "Williams-Taylor House History Papers" (PDF). P.H. Welshimer Memorial Library. Retrieved 13 September 2020.

External links[edit]