August 25, 2022 at 3:30pm
Kendall Trump, Class of 2013

Millikin hosts inaugural State of the University event

On the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, Millikin University welcomed more than 120 guests to campus for the first annual State of the University event. Attendees included Millikin alumni, friends and family of the University, members of the campus community and several esteemed guests who took part in the afternoon’s events. 

Some of Millikin’s friendliest and well-known faces greeted guests at Kirkland Fine Arts Center, guiding them on campus tours before returning to Kirkland’s auditorium for the State of the University address by President Dr. James M Reynolds. Following an introduction by Millikin’s Provost Mary Black, President Reynolds took the stage to speak about Millikin’s strategic plan, ongoing projects and goals for the University’s future.

President Reynolds took time to thank attendees, among which were active and emeriti members of the Board of Trustees, Board Chair John Skeffington, several academic and community partners, along with Decatur’s mayor and city manager and members of Millikin’s campus community. He then began what he called “an opportunity to reintroduce Millikin University,” to Decatur and Macon County.

“What I’ve noticed the past two years is that we’ve become a bit too inward focused as a University,” President Reynolds noted.

He attributed the focus to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The time for that to change has come.” Among the changes he said to expect, President Reynolds emphasized a promise for Millikin to work closer with the community and to be a better community partner.

In order to follow through on this vision, he cited the importance of people, place and promise and how these shape the meaningful work performed every day on Millikin’s campus. “The difference between Millikin and other institutions [...] is that this place lives these values on a daily basis. Students have intentional interactions with our values, our mission and our vision,” he remarked.

Next, President Reynolds provided an overview of Millikin, from the makeup of the student body to highlighting each of the four colleges on campus for their notable accomplishments and exceptional graduate success rates. Among his personal points of pride were the 85% placement rate for pre-professional students in the College of Arts & Sciences, the nationally ranked programs within the College of Fine Arts, the 98% NCLEX pass rate for nursing students in the College of Professional Studies and the student-run ventures developed in the Tabor School of Business.

Millikin University’s facilities, both completed and future projects were then presented. President Reynolds highlighted the Center for Theatre & Dance (CTD) for its state-of-the-art performance spaces and technology labs, and the collaborative spirit it inspires in students.

“Part of what students are looking for when they come to a university is a place they can gather, and the CTD was designed with exactly that idea in mind.”

He also praised the Exercise Science and Sport Pavilion and the Workman Family Baseball and Softball Fields before looking ahead to the new facilities planned for Millikin’s campus.

“When Griswold Physical Education Center was built in the early 1970s … It was built for six athletic teams. Now we have 22 athletic teams, both men’s and women’s. We are just absolutely out of locker room space.” President Reynolds said, explaining the vision behind the planned $6.7 million athletics facility and how it will benefit student-athletes and the University as a whole. 

The new Nursing Simulation Lab in the works at Millikin University was previewed as well. President Reynolds is confident that the $4 million project which will be located partially in West Towne Square will bring big opportunities for the School of Nursing. Both new facility projects are planned to begin this year.

“These seem like small projects, but they have such a great impact on our academic programs and the opportunities we provide for students,” President Reynolds said.

Though he was running short on time for his address, President Reynolds did not skip over the success of Millikin’s students and alumni. Recent graduate Angela Arnold’s Fulbright English Teaching Assistant award was mentioned, along with senior Jarius Ingram’s multifaceted success across campus.

During his address, President Reynolds singled out a statistic as being very important to Millikin as an institution. “Our graduates have a 99% success rate. Those students, when they graduate, have a place waiting for them. This is what I think really characterizes the work that we do here and the quality of the education that students receive at Millikin.”

The final portion of the State of the University addressed Millikin’s future and strategic plan. The plan consists of four strategic initiatives: Invigorating community stewardship; Nurturing a welcoming and inclusive environment; Advancing academic excellence; and Building a sustainable financial model. 

In the interest of stewardship, President Reynolds referred to Millikin’s changing focus going forward.

“It is time for us to reinvigorate our relationships with Decatur and Macon County, to be a better community partner and a better neighbor.”

He gave special recognition to Richland Community College and Decatur Public Schools for their roles as educational partners in the Decatur and Macon County area.

Regarding Millikin’s financial well being, President Reynolds said, “Millikin has been a strong survivor of the pandemic, but we need to do some work internally to make sure that we can continue on into the future to be the kind of institution we want for our students and the kind of partner we want for our community.”

Answering the question of where he sees Millikin going, the President’s response was: “Always moving forward, always making positive progress. I believe we can build a really strong Millikin University that will be around for another 120 years.”

President Reynolds concluded his State of the University address with the following sentiment: “We are Decatur’s University, but I also believe that the converse of that is also true. That Decatur is Millikin’s city and that we want to be a stronger community partner to all of you.” 

Following the keynote speech, attendees of the event were invited to attend a reception at the CTD Linder Veranda where refreshments and hors d’oeuvres were served. 

View the presentation

Listen to President Reynold's address, recorded by Neuhoff Media Decatur.