Eric Zollinger ’97 first set foot on Millikin’s campus as an eighth-grade student from Fort Wayne, Ind. Following a long van ride on a hot summer day in 1988, Eric arrived at Millikin to attend camp with Showchoir Camps of America. Reflecting on his first impression of the University, Eric recalled, “My soul just said, ‘This is a great place. There’s just something special here.’ Little did I know all that was going to mean later in my life.”
After high school, Eric returned to Millikin to complete his bachelor’s degree in musical theatre, with a minor in dance. Almost immediately upon graduation, he moved to New York City. Working part-time for an interior design company opened up a host of opportunities for him. When a former employer paid for him to get his real estate license, Eric fell in love with the new development market. It didn’t take long for Eric to realize that the entire city served as his stage. “It’s no different than putting on a show,” Eric said. “You have all the same players: the producers, the developer, the set designer, the architect. It’s really fascinating how everything fits together.” Eric credits the “pay-it-forward” attitude of his mentors with helping him get to where he is today — and Eric brings that same attitude to the table in support of his alma mater.
The first member of Millikin’s Board of Trustees who is also an alumnus of the University’s College of Fine Arts, Eric is uniquely invested in the success of the Center for Theatre & Dance. During a board workshop, a comment by President Patrick White regarding the heart and core of the Millikin experience resonated strongly with Eric: “Part of the family. Part of the tradition. Part of the legacy.” For Eric, being a part of that legacy means paying it forward and making a difference for future generations of Millikin students. “If people only knew that they could make such a big difference,” he said. “That’s how, brick-by-brick, we succeed.”