Milligan prepares to inaugurate new president
Inauguration week is fast approaching for Milligan College and their 15th president, Dr. William Greer. Greer, who has been serving in his new capacity since July, says it is a huge honor and privilege to be selected to lead the college of 1,200 students.
“It’s a little overwhelming to be named president of an institution that is as old and as established as Milligan. It’s a huge honor. I feel very humbled to be following Don Jeanes, who was an exceptional leader of Milligan College.” The school announced Greer’s selection as the new president in March, after Jeanes’ retirement.
Greer is a lifelong resident of East Tennessee. He is a graduate of Johnson County High School. In 1985, he completed his undergraduate work at Milligan, receiving a degree in business and accounting.
Prior to his educational career, Greer worked in the private sector for almost a decade, including positions with Pet/Land-O-Sun Dairies and Morrill Motors.
At the same time that he was working in the private work force, Greer made the decision to go back to school for a Master’s of Business Administration degree from East Tennessee State University. He was awarded the degree in 1991.
“Once I did that, they invited me to join the faculty at Milligan College as an adjunct professor. I started my career in higher education teaching one class, one night per week,” Greer says.
In 1994, Greer says he came to the realization that he wanted to make teaching more than just a night job. “When Milligan approached me to join the faculty full time, I jumped at the chance.”
Dr. Greer received his Ph.D in Economics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1999.
Among the highlights of his educational career, Greer cites his 12 years of teaching experience and his hand in the foundation of Milligan’s M.B.A. program.
Greer recalls that he was approached in 2006 by President Jeanes to fill the post of vice president for institutional advancement. Greer says he was responsible for Milligan’s fundraising efforts and activities.
The Milligan president says he has intentionally avoided setting concrete goals for the school, “but there are three areas within the college that I think are hallmarks of Milligan that I want to continue to strengthen and build upon. Those areas are scholarship, community and our commitment to being a faith-based institution.”
Greer says Milligan’s faculty and staff have shown their dedication to creating programs and curriculum that will prepare students for the 21st century economy. “We need to continue to work hard to provide curriculum that is relevant in today’s workplace,” Greer says.
Beyond the requirements for earning a degree, Greer believes Milligan provides students with an environment where they can find ways to integrate their faith and their daily lives. “One of the things we believe deeply in is that people can integrate their faith and their work. We are unapologetically a Christian liberal arts institution. We have been for almost 150 years.”
Since he first assumed presidential duties, Greer says he has traveled across the country to meet with Milligan alumni and trustees. He recently visited with trustees in Kentucky and Indiana to determine their vision for the future. “I want to get a sense of what dreams and hopes they have for Milligan. I was already able to glean a lot of insight from them about what direction they want to go,” Greer says. He will travel as far as California to confer with Milligan Trustees.
Greer will also meet with faculty and staff members over the coming months to develop common goals for the development of curriculum programs.
Students will also be included in the process. Greer believes they can be important contributors to the overall discussion. “They have a lot of wisdom in sharing with us what courses of study and what types of curriculum are important to them,” says Greer.
A majority of the 1,200 students at Milligan live in dorms and residence halls on the campus. Greer believes this contributes to the school’s tight-knit community. “That’s something I want to protect and I want to continue to enhance it.” Greer stated that he will support programs and infrastructure within the school that are designed to enhance Milligan’s community.
Greer says one of the areas of emphasis must be on student housing. He notes that he has been soliciting financial support for the project.
As the school prepares to inaugurate a new president, Greer believes that Milligan needs to set long-term goals. He acknowledges that any future vision must be developed by the school as a whole.
“I can’t pretend to fully know what Milligan should be like 20 years down the road, nor should I try to pretend. This is very much a collective community. I look forward to pulling in a lot of different viewpoints and perspectives as we shape a plan for the future of Milligan,” says Greer. Dr. Greer says Milligan is a special place to him and to anyone who is associated with the school. He believes faculty, students and alumni have a genuine care for one another. “We stay in touch with each other. We reach out to each other. We try to help each other. We know we are stronger together than we are apart. It’s wonderful that our alumni look back at their time here and are able to see how much it shaped their lives,” says Greer.
Inauguration week ceremonies begin Sunday, Oct. 24, at 8:30 p.m. A student vespers service is scheduled at Mary Swords Commons. There are many other activities during the week, including lectures and prayer services. An inaugural dinner is set for Thursday, Oct. 27, at 6:30 p.m. at the Millennium Center in Johnson City.
The inauguration ceremony will be Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. at Seeger Chapel. U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander will be the keynote speaker. Greer says he has always had a deep admiration and respect for the former UT chancellor, governor and education secretary. “I have always been impressed with his impact and his dedication to education,” says Greer.
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.