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Work of Arts – Milligan College opens Elizabeth Gregory Center

By Rex Barber
Press Staff Writer

rbarber@johnsoncitypress.com

MILLIGAN COLLEGE — After several years of development and construction, Milligan College opened the doors to its new liberal arts center last week.

The 30,410-square-foot Elizabeth Leitner Gregory Center for the Liberal Arts replaces the old Walker Auditorium, which was housed in Derthick Hall and was removed during that building’s renovation in 2001.

“It certainly provides us with a lot of quality facilities for our drama department, our photography department, our whole liberal arts curriculum,” Milligan President Donald R. Jeanes said. “The auditorium here seats about 294 people and it is equipped with electronics and sound stuff and all that will make it a good venue for lecture, drama, whatever we need to use it for.”

The building will become the permanent home of the college’s theater department and its humanities program, both of which are extremely important to Milligan.

Milligan’s Seeger Chapel is often used for productions and meetings, but the Gregory Center will be able to handle those kinds of activities in a much more efficient manner, Jeanes said.

“It gives us another venue,” he said. “Seeger will seat 1,200 people. And it’s not designed for drama. It’s great for the symphony and some choral things if you’ve got a big enough ensemble to fill it up. (The Gregory Center) gives us a different venue, like I said, right at 300 seats. So it will take some of the load off of that. It takes humanities out of the science building. It gives us some flexibility in some of our other rooms, so yes it will help.”

Richard Major, the school’s professor of theater and chairman for the Area of Performing, Visual and Communicative Arts, was involved in the facility’s design phase.

“Of course, it’s been a long process,” he said of how the building came to be. “I was invited into the process pretty early in the whole thing.

“You know, really, just about on every front the administration was very willing to listen to the kinds of things we needed to make this a functional theater.”

With Major’s input the auditorium stage now has a fly space, four staging areas, a scene shop, a costume shop and storage facilities.

After nearly seven years without a central location, Major said the Gregory Center will make life much easier by “primarily really just having everything under one roof instead of having it scattered all over campus.”

In addition to supporting a quality theater and photography department, the building will allow Milligan to have its humanities program centered in one facility.

“And the space also then serves very well the college as a whole,” Major said. “The auditorium offers a nice place for the large lectures to take place. Also it has a full complimentary audio visual components. Very nice.”

Students heard a presentation in the Gregory Center for the first time on Thursday, when speakers came to lecture on the importance of humanities.

Afterward, freshman Kara Patterson, an English major, said the new building was impressive and makes for a better campus.

“I think it makes it more, I guess more professional, than having other productions at the chapel over there,” she said. “I think it makes it a whole lot better.”

The public is invited to view the Gregory Center at 2 p.m. on Feb. 1.

Tickets can be purchased for a special presentation of “The Witnesses,” a professional musical written by Milligan alumnus Gary Richardson. Performances will be held Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person and go on sale to the public Monday at the Milligan College Bookstore.

For more information about the Gregory Center and opening weekend activities, visitwww.milligan.edu/gregorycenter or call 461-8756.

Johnson City Press Article

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MILLIGAN COLLEGE is a Christian liberal arts college in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The college 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 College, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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