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Building the future: First phase of Milligan Village will offer college students a suite lifestyle

By Rebekah Wilson
Elizabethton Star

Milligan College anticipates completion of the first phase of its Milligan Village student housing project in fall 2013.

College President Bill Greer says it’s part of the school’s plan to put its resources into the campus to enhance the educational experience.

“We are committed to being the very best residential Christian liberal arts college we can be,” said Greer, who said Milligan is a very close-knit campus community that shares in its Christian and educational values.

Milligan Village will allow an increase in the student population, which is around 1,200 students. Of the approximately 900 traditional undergraduate students, 80 percent live on campus.

“We’re not building them just to grow,” Greer said. “We build and improve and enhance the campus constantly because we want the quality of the student experience here to be the best it could possibly be. That helps keep Milligan attractive; it helps keep students coming to Milligan.”

The first phase includes five two-story buildings, which will accommodate 90 students in suite-style residence halls next to Hart Hall and Milligan Student Apartments.

The new Village will be primarily for upperclassmen at the college, where all students are encouraged to live on campus.

“An advantage of being on campus is that you are truly living in community with your peers, with your fellow students,” he said. “Our residence halls are the location of study groups, evening activities and runs to the grocery store.”

He said many students do indorm Bible studies.

Greer said the school also works hard to serve its commuting population, encouraging students to participate in campus activities.

The Milligan Village buildings have four suites and are designed to house 20 students. Each suite has three bathrooms, five private furnished bedrooms, a furnished kitchen and an open living room.

Greer said the school chose not to furnish the living rooms because students expressed interest in bringing their own futons, bean-bags and other furniture. Kitchen amenities include a table, chairs, refrigerator, range and pantry.

“The most incredible amenity of all is the view,” said Greer. The site overlooks Buffalo Mountain and the campus.

Each building has a common study room over the rear entrance and a balcony over the front entrance.

Each of the existing residence halls have adjoining bathrooms, even in the oldest dorms; Greer said Webb and Sutton are more traditional dorms, but that even in these, no one has to walk down the hall to use the bathroom.

“Our suites are sweet,” he said with a laugh.

Three of the buildings have two handicap-accessible rooms, and two of the residence halls will have only three suites.

The resident director’s apartment and a campus laundry facility will be in the space of the fourth suite in one building, and the area will be used for a community room in the other building.

Greer said this will be a multipurpose space for breakfasts, parties, meetings or other events.

The new village, like Milligan’s other residence halls, will not be co-ed.

“Another reason we went with the style of buildings that we are building, rather than one large building that might have 150 students in it — we went with the smaller residence halls that have 20 — is so that we can have more flexibility of assigning women to this building, men to this building,” said Greer. “As our student population shifts, it’s easier to shift the assignments around.”

When completed, the village will have 12 buildings and a common area for outdoor recreation.

“I absolutely expect it to be a busy, active place,” said Greer.

Milligan will proceed to the second phase as student population increases and when financing becomes available.

Greer said this project will be funded primarily by gifts.

“We are the beneficiary of a lot of people’s generosity,” he said. “We don’t get tax dollars from the state like a state university does to build. We rely on tuition income and gifts to operate Milligan, to provide scholarships, to build a new theater, the wellness center that we built, the residence halls that we built. So because we don’t get the tax dollars, we have to rely on the generosity of alumni and our donors.”

He said the school is blessed with a very supportive alumni base. He said it shows that those students were happy at Milligan and that they went on to get jobs which provide for them well enough that they can give back to Milligan.

U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 “America’s Best Colleges” ranked Milligan sixth in the South. Of the top 25 schools, Milligan had the most alumni donations.

“So this is why we invest so much in our campus to make it the best learning environment and living environment that we can,” he said.

Milligan received its largest single gift ever, from Richard and Leslie Gilliam of Charlottesville, Va., to pay for site preparation for the village. This includes parking, roads, retaining walls and utilities for all 12 locations.

“The reason we went with this style of site preparation is so that we can accommodate future growth,” said Greer.

The first phase is being paid for by donations as well as with bond issues. Greer said that although a portion of tuition goes to campus maintenance, it primarily pays for education and that capital projects are not funded by tuition.

A recent donation from Bill Greene honors the life and work of Don and Clarinda Jeanes by naming one of the buildings “Don and Clarinda Jeanes Hall.” He had the building named after the former president and first lady to honor their commitment to the school and to complete Don’s dream of expanding student housing.

According to Greer, buildings are typically named to recognize a lifetime, personal commitment to Milligan.

This commitment can be financial or honorary, as in the case of Greene naming the building after the Jeanes.

Names for remaining buildings are yet to be determined.

Grading and excavation was done by Thomas Construction Co. of Johnson City.

The general contractor is Burleson Construction Co. of Johnson City, and Beeson, Lusk and Street Inc. of Johnson City is the architect.

Brent Nipper, director of property and risk management, said that construction is “in the dry,” meaning work can continue despite any inclement weather.


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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