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Milligan College is a Christian liberal arts college founded in 1866 and located immediately outside of Elizabethtonmarker in Carter County, Tennesseemarker. The school has a student population of just over 1,000 students as well as a campus that is located just minutes from downtown Johnson City, Tennesseemarker. Like many colleges and universities, it has its own zip code, 37682.

Milligan College is historically-related to the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, the Christian Church , and the a cappella Churches of Christ, but welcomes students from all backgrounds. The College offers 23 bachelors and 3 masters degrees in various fields of study.


The school began as an endeavor of the Rev. Wilson G. Barker, a Disciples of Christ minister, and the Buffalo Creek Christian Church, a congregation of the Disciples of Christ located on Buffalo Creek in Carter County, Tennessee. While it began as a private secondary school known as the Buffalo Male and Female Institute, the institution was elevated to the collegiate level in 1881 with the arrival of the Rev. Dr. Josephus Hopwood and his wife Sarah LaRue Hopwood. Hopwood, a Disciples of Christ minister and educator, came to the school with the understanding that it would become a liberal arts college to train leaders for Disciples of Christ churches and the communities of Appalachia. The name was changed to Milligan College in 1881 in honor of the Professor Robert Milligan, president and professor of Biblical Studies at the College of the Bible,Kentucky Universitymarker (now Lexington Theological Seminary). Hopwood continued to serve the school as president until 1903 when he left to found Virginia Christian College (now Lynchburg Collegemarker) in Lynchburg, Virginia. He returned for an interim presidency in 1915-1917.

Dr. Henry Derthick's presidency is perhaps the most defining administration in early the history of the college. He served from 1917 to 1940 and during this tenure the college grew and gained a reputation for excellence in the region. Derthick succeeded in bringing the college through the Great Depression.

In 1943, Milligan became the only college in the nation to completely turn its facilities over to the Naval training programs. The V-12 Navy College Training Program program utilized the college's campus from 1943 to 1945.

The school resumed its civilian education programs in 1945, though facing a significant financial crisis. The board of trustees called Dr. Dean E. Walker, a Disciples of Christ minister and educator, then professor at the seminary of Butler University (now Christian Theological Seminary), to become the college's president. Walker's administration was marked by rapid growth, securing financial stability for the college, and the realization of regional acceditation for the college's academic programs through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. During Walker's tenure he also led the way in establishing Emmanuel School of Religion, a graduate theological seminary now located adjacent to the college's campus near Johnson Citymarker, and loosely associated with the College.

Since the 1960s Milligan has grown in stature in the region and has become one of the premiere private, church-related liberal arts colleges in the South. The college's education programs are among its most popular majors and degrees. Business and communications programs are also among the top choices of students.

Donald Jeanes (Milligan Class of 1968), a minister and educator of the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, became the fourteenth president of the college in 1997. He is a graduate of the college, holds a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from neighboring Emmanuel School of Religion, and was granted an honorary doctoral degree by Milligan College. He continues to lead the school.

The college's vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The college's motto, found on its seal, is "Age Deo Fide Et Amore," meaning "Act for God with faith and love."

The core curriculum, based on an interdisciplinary humanities program and religion courses, educates students to view and engage the world in an open and constructive way, to lead and to serve. The college offers 23 academic majors and three master's degree programs.

Student life

The college believes that a Christian liberal arts education is about more than just academic studies. The school's programs focus on developing the whole person — intellectually, spiritually, socially, and physically. There are many opportunities to do that through activities such as concerts, theatre productions, banquets, pick-up hoops and Ultimate Frisbee, intramurals and athletic events, residence hall activities, and study groups.

As a church-related liberal arts college, Milligan remains closely aligned with the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ that support it. That support often leads to strict polices governing life at the college. Alcohol and tobacco use are prohibited on campus.

Alcohol policy

Alcohol is prohibited of legal-age students. Use of alcohol is a violation of student policy and can result in a $100 fine, a one-week suspension from school, up to 50 hours of community service, and a required alcohol-awareness test before being allowed back on campus. A second offense results in expulsion from the school for at least a semester.

If a student chooses to appeal the Dean's ruling and go before the disciplinary committee, they will be subject to:

“Any student brought before the Disciplinary Committee that is found to have been consuming alcohol or to “knowingly” have had alcohol in his or her possession, will be automatically suspended from school for a minimum of one week, required to perform 20 hours of community service, fined $100, and will not be allowed to make up any of the school work missed. (This sanction shall be imposed irrespective of when the offense occurs, even if within the last week of the semester, including final exams.) During this time the student may be required to complete an Alcohol Education course, approved by the Vice President for Student Development, before being readmitted. The cost of the education program will be the responsibility of the student.”

“Any student brought before the Disciplinary Committee that is found guilty of a second offense involving the possession or use of alcohol will be automatically expelled from the school and not allowed to return.”

Newer buildings

The Elizabeth Leitner Gregory Center for the Liberal Arts, a center for performing arts, opened in January 2008. It features a 300-seat theater, photography labs, and classrooms for use by the fine arts programs at the college.

Milligan has remodeled the cafeteria to create a more informal and aesthetically pleasing atmosphere. The dining hall is open all day to accommodate diverse student schedules.

Notable alumni

Tennessee Governors and Congressmen, brothers Alf and Bob Taylor, known for their famous "War of the Roses" in which they ran against one another for Governor of Tennessee, in 1886.

Charles Buddy Bolding, Class of 1973, is Head Baseball Coach at Longwood Universitymarker in Farmville, Virginia, and currently has more than 800 career wins. Was a track star in the 440, discus, javelin, and pole vault for the legendary coach, Duard B. Walker, while a Buffalo.

U.S. Congressman David Davis, Class of 1991, of Tennessee District 1. [116469]

Del Harris, Class of 1959. Del is an NBA assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls and the former head coach of the Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Los Angeles Lakers. With more than 13-plus seasons of head coaching experience in the NBA, Harris owns a career record of 556-457 (.549) with the Houston Rockets (1979-83), Milwaukee Bucks (1987-1991) and the Los Angeles Lakers (1994-99). His 556 wins is in the coaches' top 25 of all time NBA regular season wins. Some of his coaching highlights include leading his teams to the playoffs 11 times (38-50, .432), coaching the Rockets to the 1981 NBA Finals and winning the 1995 NBA Coach of the Year Award. [116470]

Francis Gary Powers, Class of 1950,(August 17, 1929 – August 1, 1977) was an American pilot whose U-2 spy plane was shot down while over the Soviet Union, causing the U-2 Crisis of 1960.

Duard B. Walker, Class of 1948. While a student at the College, he lettered in 5 different sports, a record that still stands as of 2008. The Appalachian Athletic Conference Duard Walker All-Sports Trophy was established as a way of recognizing member institutions with the most successful all-around sports program for the year. The trophy was named the Duard Walker Trophy in 2000 in honor of Coach Walker who retired that year after 50 years of service to Milligan College as teacher, coach, and athletics director. Walker was named the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Athletics Director of the Year for 2001. He was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2008.

Sonny Smith, Class of 1958. Smith served as a basketball head coach for 22 seasons. He is credited with turning around losing programs at East Tennessee State University, Auburn University, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Smith is best remembered for his coaching years at Auburn University, where he was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year in 1984 and 1989. In 1985, he coached the Auburn Tigers to their first SEC Tournament Championship in school history. During his years at Auburn, he coached NBA Hall of Fame player, Charles Barkley and was the only coach in school history to have three consecutive winning seasons, from 1984-86. On January 3, 2007, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. After retiring from coaching, Smith joined his friend and former University of Alabama coach Wimp Sanderson on a sports talk radio show "The Sonny and Wimp Show" on WJOX-AM in Birmingham, Alabama.

Eric Blackburn, Class of 2004. Throughout his years as a Communications Student he participated in the Annual One Act Play/Short Film Festival, the 2001 Blue Ridge Academic Research Conference, and was a writer for the Milligan Stampede. Since graduating, Eric has gone on to become a television news reporter for stations throughout Southwest Florida. WWSB-ABC7 Sarasota, SNN News 6 Sarasota, and WTVT-FOX13 in Tampa. He has been nominated for various awards by the National Press Photographers Association, and the Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards.


  1. America's Best Colleges 2008

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