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Milligan receives $2 million Lilly grant

MILLIGAN COLLEGE, TN (Nov. 25, 2002) — Milligan College has much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving season. The college was notified late last week that it is one of 39 colleges and universities in the country to receive a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. that enhances programs that help prepare a new generation of leaders for church and society.

These four-year, church-related liberal arts colleges have devised programs that encourage their students to reflect on how their faith commitments are related to their career choices and what it means to be “called” to lives of service. The programs also provide opportunities for students to explore the rewards and demands of Christian ministry and consider a career as a minister.

Milligan will receive $1.9 million over the next five years for its program titled, “The Servant-Leader Experience.”

“This program gives Milligan the unprecedented opportunity to serve our students in a way that relates directly to the core purpose of our mission and vision,” said Milligan President Donald R. Jeanes.

The Servant-Leader Experience is a comprehensive program spanning the entire student experience at Milligan, explained Jeanes. It will provide new and expanded opportunities for student leadership development, career counseling services, internship opportunities, student scholarships, faculty development and mentoring, cooperative programs and interdisciplinary programs.

Elements of the program, which will begin in 2003, will be woven throughout a student’s four years of college. Some of the components will be required, particularly in the freshman and sophomore years, while others are voluntary.

“Most of our students are 18-22 year olds who come to Milligan with a desire to serve both God and humanity while finding direction for their lives,” said Jeanes. “Many are struggling, however, to find meaning and purpose in a skeptical world and to reconcile their faith with societal pressures and expectations. ‘Vocational calling’ is not part of the working vocabulary of many college students.”

Jeanes said that Milligan’s goal is “to provide a cohesive way for students to consider their vocational choices in light of their faith as they grow intellectually and spiritually. We want students to explore their vocational choices from the perspective of a calling to ministry — regardless of the specific field they will ultimately enter.”

Jeanes said that it is something the college is already doing in many areas and this grant funding will further enhance the college’s ability to fulfill its mission and implement the Servant-Leader Experience.

“Milligan was founded with the idea that our Christian vocation can and should be applied in every discipline of academic pursuit and career and in every facet of our lives,” said Jeanes. “This program is highly relevant to our modern mission ‘to prepare men and women to be servant-leaders.’”

Milligan’s Servant-Leader Experience will be a strong complement to the “Youth in Ministry” program that the college is already implementing in partnership with Emmanuel School of Religion, also thanks to the Endowment. That program is aimed at reaching high school students with a similar emphasis of discerning and viewing their vocational calling as ministry.

“The enhancement and further development of this program to include college students is a logical and meaningful continuum of that program,” said Todd Norris, vice president for institutional advancement at Milligan.

“We plan to explore even deeper levels of involvement with existing church and para-church partners, as well as alumni and friends. They can provide essential resources for our mentor programs and internships. And they effectively and vividly model Christian leadership in a variety of vocations.”

Norris explained that the funding and planning process for the Servant-Leader Experience program has been a year in the making. Last March, the college was one of 50 colleges selected from 300 to receive a planning grant from the Endowment to develop this project. At Milligan, a 25-member campus team, led by Norris and alumni director Theresa Garbe, spent countless hours in an intensive planning process to prepare the grant proposal and Servant-Leader Experience program.

“The Servant-Leader Experience at Milligan will better equip our students to be Christian leaders. It will benefit our church congregations by preparing a new generation of leaders for professional ministry and lay leadership. It will equip new generations to be employed in public leadership and service fields. In addition, those entering law, medicine, education, and a host of other professions will set the standard of moral leadership for society,” said Jeanes. “As such, their impact will be felt for many years to come and will multiply in the lives they touch.”

Totaling $76.8 million, the 39 grants represent the third round of the Endowment’s initiative called Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation. The first round, in 2000, awarded grants totaling $37.7 million to 20 schools. The second round, in 2001, awarded grants totaling $56.8 million to 29 schools. This third round brings the total implementation grants to $171.3 million to 88 schools across the country. The Endowment has also invested $5.5 million in helping schools develop planning grants for these awards.

The Endowment invited the colleges to reflect on their particular strengths, history and mission in designing proposals so that the programs would “fit” each institution well.

“Consequently, the result is a wonderful amalgam of creative programs that are clearly well-thought-out and have a real chance of success,” said Craig Dykstra, Endowment vice president for religion.

“Colleges that received grants in the earlier rounds are reporting very successful implementation of their plans—their students are eager to engage in theological reflection as they make choices about their future, and many students are seriously considering the ministry as a career.”

“Furthermore,” he said, “people in these schools are getting together with each other to exchange ideas and tell each other about the most promising aspects of their projects, so the ‘infrastructure’ of connections keeps building. We think that will greatly enhance both their common purposes and the Endowment’s ultimate objectives of a talented new generation of ministers leading healthy and vibrant congregations.”

Founded in 1937, the Endowment is an Indianapolis-based private foundation that supports its founders’ wishes by supporting the causes of religion, community development and education.


MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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