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Enriching education

REX BARBER
Johnson City Press

MILLIGAN COLLEGE (March 23, 2008) — Things are coming together at Milligan College. Changes are most visible in the center of campus now that the school has completed one of the most important steps in its master plan to enhance the campus with the recent opening of the Elizabeth Lietner Gregory Center for the Liberal Arts.

“It’s kind of a signature building here that helped us reach near completion of a plan that we have to redo the whole commons,” Milligan President Donald Jeanes said. “We renovated Derthick (Hall) right after 2000, did the commons, we relocated the tennis courts, did this. There is still a companion building whenever I’m able to raise the money, and it’s a student center.”

Several years in the making, the new building, dubbed the Gregory Center, is intended to influence the lives of Milligan students as they attend required humanities classes. The facility is home also to the photography and theater programs.

“Downstairs, we have darkrooms for our photography department,” Jeanes said.

Students will not be the only ones to benefit from the building.

“We’ve got to get the bugs ironed out, but we’ve already had several places contact us about using it,” Jeanes said. “We certainly have a tradition of making Seeger Chapel available to (organizations) in the community, especially other not-for-profit groups, so I’m sure that’s going to come, probably not this year. We kind of need to get people trained in operating the system and everything.”

The building is named in honor of the grandmother of the Gregorys, formerly of King Pharmaceuticals in Bristol.

“She is the grandmother of Joe and John Gregory,” Jeanes said of the building’s namesake. “Joe and John Gregory and their wives have been very generous with us and helped to underwrite a lot of the costs of this building.”

The new building has an auditorium that seats 294 people, has classrooms, a fly space for the theater, four staging areas, a scene shop, a costume shop and storage facilities.

Richard Major, the school’s theater professor and chairman of performing, visual and communicative arts, said the new center will allow the theater department to realize its full potential.

“We’ve never really been able to fly things before, so we’ll be able to do that now, and that’s exciting,” Major said.

The school has had a theater program for years but no venue comparable to the one it has now.

The Gregory Center has yet to see a full semester, but students already have been using the building, and every Milligan student will spend quite a bit of time in its halls. That seems fine with nearly everyone.

“It’s all still kind of brand new to everybody and will be for quite a while, but the initial reaction has been very enthusiastic to say the least,” Major said.

Milligan freshman Ellyn Sapp said the building emphasizes the administration’s commitment to its students.

“I think they’re thinking about the long-term,” she said. “Getting a big auditorium will help (accommodate) more people (in) the freshman humanities classes.”

Every freshman and sophomore at Milligan must take courses in the humanities.

“It’s a lot of work,” Sapp said. “It’s a lot of reading, but it covers everything pretty much — art and history and literature and everything — and I think that it’s really good for your general education.”

Bailey Buckner, a freshman in psychology, said the humanities emphasis at Milligan is a good thing for her.

“I know in the first semester, they try their best to integrate all literature and art and history, and they do it in such a way that it all goes together instead of learning all these things separately,” she said. “It makes sure you learn everything about one period of time and how it relates to us now.

“I think it really helps us to see what’s so important about getting through school and being a person.”

Milligan hopes to graduate more students who learn and experience what Sapp and Buckner did, if Jeanes’ plans come to fruition.

“Well, I hope in the next five to 10 years we will be closer to 1,500 in enrollment,” Jeanes said. “We’re over 1,000 this year, and we’ve had solid incremental growth in the last 10 years, but we have a plan that in the next three to four years we’ll be around 1,200.”

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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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