Milligan College is a selective Christian liberal arts college founded in 1866 and located in the mountains of Northeastern Tennessee and the Tri-Cities region of the state.
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 University (now Lexington Theological Seminary). Hopwood continued to serve the school as president until 1903 when he left to found Virginia Christian College (now Lynchburg College) 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 City, 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 school was named a "College of Distinction" in 2011. The college's education programs are among its most popular and well respected in the region. The business and communications programs are also popular with 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. Jeanes announced his retirement effective July 15, 2011. On March 18, 2011, the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Bill Greer as the 15th president; Dr. Greer assumed leadership of the college on July 15, 2011. Greer's appointment marks the first time in the college's existence that anyone other than a minister will have served as president. Greer is an economist, scholar, and business leader who holds a Ph.D. in Business and Economics from the University of Tennessee and has taught at the college for almost 20 years. 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 "Ago Deo Fideo Et Amore," meaning "Go with God in faith and love." Milligan is committed to excellence in scholarship, an emphasis on community and a dependence on faith. 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 over 30 programs of study on the undergraduate level and four on the graduate level.
Milligan College provides opportunities for education in Bible, arts, and sciences which are shaped by a Christian world view in order to (1) create an environment dedicated to intellectual, spiritual, social, and physical development, (2) lead to selected professional and career possibilities, and (3) establish a community of inquiry, responsibility, and caring. Programs lead to associate, undergraduate, or graduate degrees, as well as provide for personal enrichment; they prepare men and women to participate in the necessary endeavors which will result in the accomplishment of the following objectives