During the turmoil and uncertainty of the period following the Civil War, a college was founded. That college was Milligan. Since then, we have been a beacon of truth and hope during many periods of difficulty throughout our nation’s history. In today’s time of economic uncertainty, I am increasingly grateful for those things that seem reassuringly constant. I am grateful that Milligan serves God, whose faithfulness has sustained our ministry. I am grateful that we have remained true to our mission of honoring God by educating men and women to be servant leaders. I am grateful for our students, our faculty, and our staff, who labor together to make our vision evident to a world in desperate need of leaders with character and integrity and who are grounded in a deep faith in God. I am grateful for those who support Milligan through their prayers and by giving financially. Without this support, we simply could not provide the excellent Christian education to which we are committed.
Your membership in the community that is Milligan College is all the more appreciated in the face of what has become an extremely volatile and unpredictable economic climate. The economic crisis is truly one of global proportions, being felt around the world. And we are certainly not immune to its effects here at Milligan.
We observed an early indication of the credit crisis last summer, when a few of our students faced difficulty in securing student loans. With rising unemployment on a national level, we are somewhat concerned about the ability of families to afford college at all, perhaps delaying enrollment or choosing other alternatives.
More recently, the economic turmoil has taken a toll on the college’s endowment. After several years of growth, the endowment has dropped considerably, reflecting the precipitous declines we have seen in the extremely volatile stock market. Prudent management has, however, kept our endowment from dropping at the rapid pace of the overall market. Depending on the duration of this market decline, we anticipate future challenges in funding scholarships at the same levels as in the past.
And yet there is every reason to be optimistic about Milligan’s future. We have been extremely conservative in our financial management practices over the past ten years and have enjoyed several consecutive years of balanced budgets. We offer an outstanding education, while keeping a careful eye toward budgetary restraint and prudent management. We carry very little debt and are choosing to defer any projects that might bring about the need to borrow additional funds. We have historically been and continue to be a college that has demonstrated good stewardship and high quality. Our efforts have been rewarded by recently being recognized as the 6th best baccalaureate college in the South. This remarkable achievement speaks volumes about the commitment to excellence that is demonstrated by our hard-working faculty and staff. It is proof that together we do remarkable work with the limited resources at our disposal.
We are committed to meeting the needs of our deserving students even in the face of this economic challenge. To do so, however, means that we will be relying even more heavily on our alumni, supporting churches, parents, and friends who have always been generous in their support of Milligan. And certainly, as always, we will rely on God’s provision. I have a deep faith that Milligan is in God’s plan and that He will provide the resources we need to sustain our long tradition of quality and excellence and that we will continue to succeed at fulfilling our mission.
At the same time, we recognize the importance of continued careful, deliberate management and good stewardship. Therefore, we are looking at what we can do now to prepare for what is likely to be an extended time of economic difficulty. We will be even more diligent in finding ways to monitor and control our spending and to be good stewards of our resources. It goes without saying that we must maintain the strength of our academic programs, continue the strong level of student support we offer, further enhance the sense of community that is the hallmark of Milligan College and, above all, maintain our commitment to Christian education, the hope of the world.
Rest assured that we will not sacrifice any of our core values nor compromise anything that contributes to making Milligan College the distinctive and unique institution that we are. We are currently in the quiet phase of a capital campaign that is designed to enhance the overall student experience. While economic conditions may affect the timing of the campaign, our resolve must not be shaken. We are committed to moving the college forward by continuing our plans for the capital campaign which promises to enhance scholarship, community, and wellness among our students, faculty, and staff.
The coming months will inevitably be challenging for Milligan and for the world. I want you to know that Milligan remains strong, and we continue to be committed to providing an outstanding Christian liberal arts education.
I am deeply grateful for you and the part you play in making Milligan such a unique and special place. Together, we will overcome the challenges before us.