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Diversity at Milligan

Commitment to All People

“As members of the Milligan University community and in faithfulness to the teaching of Scripture, we commit ourselves to honoring and broadening the diversity of our community and to treating every person with respect, dignity, and love. By reflecting the diversity of God’s kingdom, the University bears witness to that kingdom and equips students to serve in a diverse and interdependent world.” 1

Diversity at Milligan

Milligan University believes that diversity in our student body, faculty, and staff, whether by race, color, ethnicity, disability, multicultural background, sex, or age, is important for us to fulfill our primary mission: to provide a quality education where men and women are prepared as servant-leaders. We believe that:

  • Diversity enriches the educational experience.

    We learn from those whose experiences, beliefs, and perspectives are different from our own, and these lessons can be taught best in a richly diverse intellectual and social environment.

  • Diversity strengthens communities and the workplace.

    Education within a diverse setting prepares students to become good citizens in an increasingly complex, pluralistic society; it fosters mutual respect and teamwork; and it helps build communities whose members are judged by the quality of their character and their contributions.2

  • Diversity promotes personal growth and a healthy society.

    Diversity challenges stereotyped preconceptions; it encourages critical thinking; and it helps students learn to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds.

  • Diversity reflects God’s kingdom.

    The University’s view on diversity is shaped by its Christian faith. The Gospel’s call is always to move beyond our culture-imposed, self-imposed boundaries and to understand that people whom we may have previously labeled “others” are created in God’s image.3


  • foster a commitment to diversity
  • create a welcoming University environment
  • provide curricular and co‐curricular strategies that help all students develop intercultural competencies
  • recruit and retain a diverse student body and workforce


Because of these beliefs and goals, Milligan University desires to reach out and make a concerted effort to build a healthy and diverse learning environment appropriate to our mission. The University relies on academic programs, educational services, and scholarships to recruit and retain a diverse student body. Current initiatives include:

  • The Betty Goah Scholars Program
  • Multicultural Engagement Office
  • Multicultural Appreciation Month
  • Multicultural Affairs Student Organization
    • The mission of the Multicultural Affairs Student Organization is to make Milligan a genuinely multicultural Christian community. To be such a community is to affirm the worth of all human beings and to affirm the value and significance of the human cultures and communities which have developed over the centuries. It is to affirm a biblical version of the Kingdom of God, in which people from “every tribe and language and people and nation” are gathered (Rev. 5:9). It is also to acknowledge the extent to which racism, intolerance, and other sins have contributed, and continue to contribute to the failure of this endeavor — even within our own Milligan community.
  • Ethnic Studies requirement (see the General Education Requirements)
  • Diversity Advisory Committee
    • This is a group of community and civic leaders who advise and share insight on the direction, process, and efforts to bring diversity to Milligan University.

For more information about these initiatives, please contact 423.461.8492.

Milligan University Notice of Nondiscrimination

As members of the Milligan University community and in faithfulness to the teaching of Scripture, we commit ourselves to honoring and broadening the diversity of our community and to treating every person with respect, dignity, and love. By reflecting the diversity of God’s kingdom, the University bears witness to that kingdom and equips students to serve in a diverse and interdependent world.  In accordance with the Age Discrimination Act, Title IX, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Milligan University admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at Milligan. Milligan does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school administered programs.

Concerns relating to sex discrimination should be addressed to the University’s Title IX Coordinator:

Brent Nipper, Director of Property and Risk Management
PO Box 750
Little Hartland Welcome Center
Milligan, TN 37682

Questions about disability services and ADA compliance issues should be addressed to:

Heather Jackson, Director of Disability Services
P.O. Box 500
McMahan Student Center
Milligan, TN 37682


1 Milligan University Commitment to Non-Discrimination, Milligan University Catalog.
2 “On the importance of diversity in higher education.” Farleigh Dickinson University.
3 Higgins, Susan, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and Missions, Milligan University.


In 2007, ethnic minority students made up only 5% of the Milligan University student body.  By 2010, ethnic minority students made up 14% of the student body. This dramatic increase was no accident. It began in prayer and was energized by a deep commitment to the idea that diversity is God’s intention and desire, that Milligan University needed to take a proactive role in bringing about diversity, and that a multi-pronged approach would be necessary.

“We will be a strong, vibrant, and diverse Christian collegiate community” was part of the Long Range Plan approved by the Milligan University Board of Trustees. Strategic goals included creating a welcoming and diverse environment, increasing the level of cultural competency of all students, increasing multicultural classroom experiences, and increasing multicultural social and co-curricular experiences.

These goals translated into specific actions, under the direction of Vice President for Enrollment Management, Dr. Lee (Fierbaugh) Harrison. The president appointed a Multi-Ethnic Resource Team, including faculty, administrators, staff, and students. The University hired a Director of Diversity and established an Office of Diversity Services in 2007.

Milligan’s first Director of Diversity Services, Nathaniel Moultrie, had the vision and the ability to generate a great deal of local interest in Milligan’s diversity initiatives, and both he and then-president Don Jeanes met with local ministers and other community leaders from the African American community to seek their advice about how the University could best live out its commitment to diversity.

Milligan’s second director was Ernesto Villarreal, who served from 2010 to 2013. Dr. Pat Magness served at interim director from 2013 to 2014. Dr. Jeff Smith became director in the fall of 2014. In 2015, his title changed to Director of Multicultural Engagement and he worked with Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean, Dr. Garland Young, to help the University realize its goals more fully. Faculty development, curricular development, increasing diversity of the faculty, facilitating greater multicultural understanding—all these remain important goals as the University continues to pursue a diverse community that provides a living picture of the Kingdom of God.

Rachel Owens served as Director of Multicultural Engagement for 2016-2019.

Gwen Ellis was named the Director of Multicultural Engagement in Summer 2019 and the office transitioned back to the area of Enrollment & Marketing under Dr. Lee Harrison, Vice President.