Millikin University Commons an asset to Decatur
The doors to the University Commons on Millikin University's campus officially opened on Aug. 21, 2017. Throughout day, guided tours of the University Commons were provided, highlighting some of the technological and conceptual innovations in the building.
The $31 million University Commons is located in the heart of Millikin's campus. With the exception of Shilling Hall, an original Millikin structure erected in 1902, the new University Commons, an 87,000 square foot building, is the largest building project in university history.
The University Commons was created through a blending of both old and new as the original Staley Library structure, completed in 1976, was completely renovated and a large addition was constructed on the south side of the building. With input from the entire campus community, the University Commons was designed for campus and community-wide events.
In a recent editorial published by the Herald & Review, the Decatur-based newspaper says the University Commons "is not only an asset to Millikin University, it's beneficial to the entire Decatur (Ill.) community."
Millikin President Dr. Patrick White and Millikin student leaders provided remarks at the opening celebration in front of the Doug and Diane Oberhelman Center for Leadership Performance, sharing words of thanks and appreciation regarding the University Commons and what it means for Millikin.
"This is an amazing building in concept and operation because it brings together the library, the dining hall, the Oberhelman Center for Leadership Performance, the Center for International Education as well as the Office of Student Development and so many other things into one University Commons," President White said.
The Herald & Review editorial further said, "It is part of the $85 million 'Transform MU' capital campaign launched in May 2010. Next up is the new Center for Theatre and Dance, which builds on Millikin's extraordinary standing as a destination for music and theatre education. In March 2017, the sleek Workman Family Softball Field, complete with artificial turf and seating for 300, opened on Oakland Avenue."
Millikin University officially broke ground on the new University Commons during a ceremony held on Nov. 6, 2015. Construction on the facility began in early 2016. Millikin officials worked for several months with Hastings + Chivetta, a St. Louis architectural firm, to finalize designs for the Commons, soliciting input and feedback from the campus community.
Retired Caterpillar Foundation and Caterpillar Inc. Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman, a 1975 Millikin graduate, and his wife, Diane, provided support to create the new Commons. Their contributions helped to fund three areas: The Oberhelman Center for Leadership Performance; a Center for International Education; and the Long-Vanderburg Scholars program which recognizes high scholastic achievement among those students who have a demonstrated commitment to diversity, leadership, and community service.
Other funding for the Commons was achieved primarily through donor gifts. Three families also made seven-figure commitments to fund construction: MU Trustee Debi Breeding Johnston '89 and her husband, Bob; the late Robert Moorehead '46 and his wife, Charlotte Beesley Moorehead '47; and David J. Rathje '58 and his wife, Debbie.
"Millikin is a vital part of our community," the Herald & Review said. "We all should take pride in the University Commons."