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JCP: Big anniversary, big celebration at Milligan

This article published on 10/11/15 in the Johnson City Press here.

By Becky Campbell, JCP reporter

It’s a big year for Milligan College, and if things fall into place just right, Cody the Buffalo could be the homecoming parade grand marshal in celebration of the school’s sesquicentennial.

“We have a student-led effort to bring a live buffalo to campus,” said Theresa Garbe, director of alumni relations and a Bible professor. “We’re hoping Cody the Buffalo will be leading our homecoming parade.”

Homecoming weekend, Oct. 23 and 24, will be the kickoff for the 150th anniversary celebration at Milligan, a four-year college with a picturesque campus where thousands of students have earned degrees and stepped into all corners of the world to work in their chosen professions. The two days are packed with activities and events, some just for students, some just for alumni and some that are open to the public.

“There will be exciting additions this year,” Garbe said. “We have Gary Powers Jr., son of (Milligan alumni) Gary Powers, on campus this year to give a lecture.”

Powers Jr.’s visit will come a week after the movie about his father’s work as a CIA spy in the agency’s U-2 program, “Bridge of Spies,” opens.

In addition to his lecture, Powers Jr. will receive on behalf of his father the Milligan College distinguished alumnus award. Powers’ lecture, Oct. 24 at 4:30 p.m. in Hyder Auditorium, is open to the public. So is a music department concert, Celebrating Our Appalachian Roots, on Oct. 24 at 3:30 p.m. in Seeger Memorial Chapel. A full schedule of events will be released prior to Homecoming.

This year’s homecoming isn’t just for the 17,000 graduates from the college. It will also include students and alumni from Emmanuel Christian Seminary, which became part of Milligan earlier this year when the two merged.

“We’ll be highlighting the integration of Emmanuel and that we’ve expanded our alumni base by bringing Emmanuel into the fold,” Garbe said.

Milligan President Dr. Bill Greer said the move to merge with Emmanuel was important to the college, and was this past week affirmed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Colleges.

Representatives were on campus last week and “we had our exit interview. … They affirmed their decision to allow the merger with Emmanuel and allow us to to begin conferring doctoral degrees,” Greer said, adding that the council said Milligan is a “stellar and excellent institution.”

“That’s pretty lofty praise coming from an accreditation body,” he said.

“An institution doesn’t survive for 150 years by accident,” Greer said. “It’s because, I think, of a commitment to mission that has ensured our longevity and our relevance and will ensure our future. We’re focused on who we are as an institution. I think God honors that.”

Greer said Milligan has carved its place in history and the region, but there are more things to do as the college moves forward.

“We have a mission that’s shaped by scripture. At the same time that scripture encourages us to be accepting of others, demonstrate the grace of Christ … that’s not to suggest an acceptance of every lifestyle, but it does suggest a love for everyone,” he said. “That’s what we try to instill in our students.”

“I think institutions like Milligan, and specifically Milligan, are important in lots of ways,” Greer said. The college “provides the world with people who care about others as much as they do about themselves, if not more so.”

”We try to instill a real sense of compassion and care for others. That’s what makes a servant leader. We want our students to integrate their faith and work so their lives are truly whole,“ he said. ”It’s not just that they have a faith life they live out on Sunday and a different professional work life, but that they’re integrated.“


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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