Inside the Millikin Magazine: Putting the MU in Community

Millikin is Invigorating Community Partnerships through Engagement, Service

Millikin Volunteers

This issue of Millikin Magazine is one in a series of four dedicated to spotlighting the University’s four strategic initiatives. These initiatives are part of the University’s Strategic Plan, “The Millikin Difference, 2023-2027.” 

In these pages, we focus on how Millikin invigorates — and is invigorated by — community partnerships. From our role as “Decatur’s University,” to the global connections forged every day by our extraordinary students, faculty and alumni, we see the life-changing benefits of building communities wherever we go.

  • Students VolunteeringWhen we partner with businesses and nonprofits, members of the Big Blue gain real-world experiences and one-on-one mentorship while contributing to the success of those partners. When we engage with PK-12 students and their families, we provide fresh perspectives and innovative tools for envisioning their future, while also learning a thing or two from them. When we connect with local audiences through our arts and athletics programming, we give them access to championship Division III athletics and world-class entertainment — and give us all a reason to root for the outstanding talent in our community. All while strengthening our community and its economy.

    But the value of these partnerships isn’t just expressed in dollars and cents — their true value is expressed in the commitment to service that they instill in each of us. When our graduates leave the Big Blue and embark on the next chapter of their lives, they carry these values with them, enriching the next community with what they’ve learned on Millikin’s campus.

    For Millikin students, this experience starts with the annual Day of Service each August. Junior Elementary Education major Isaiah Watson distinctly remembers his first Day of Service.

  • Volunteers planting a tree
    • For the Day of Service my first year, we were out at the James Millikin Homestead volunteering. That moment made me feel like I was really a part of the community.
    — Isaiah Watson, Junior Elementary Education major
  • “I moved here from three hours away, and I didn’t know what the community was like. Allowing us to come and beautify Decatur and make it our own made you feel like it was a place you wanted to be.”

    For this year’s ADM/Millikin Day of Service event held in August, Isaiah served as a Student Experience Ambassador and led a group of first-year students to their service location. 

    “This year, I had the chance to be at the Salvation Army, where we were packaging up clothes, food and things for the community,” he said. 

    “Now, being a student leader and seeing these new students take part in the Day of Service, it is full circle for me and it just keeps going. Decatur and Millikin are one and one; they are the same.”

    This year’s Day of Service was a collaboration between ADM and Millikin, thanks to a grant from the ADM Cares charitable organization, which sustains and strengthens ADM communities by funding organizations that drive meaningful social, economic and environmental change. 

    • The Day of Service brings Millikin and ADM together to collaborate and give back to the community. It also helps the new students that are coming in and shows the opportunities that are there for them in Decatur and ADM.
    — ADM Vice President and Corporate Controller Molly Strader Fruit, MBA ’14
  • “It is an amazing opportunity for ADM, and I’m proud that ADM is a part of it. I’m a two-time graduate from Millikin and so it is really great to see the collaboration.”

    Student volunteers


    More than 350 Millikin students, staff and ADM employees, many of whom were Millikin alumni, participated in service projects around Decatur. Volunteer locations included Decatur Public Schools, Children’s Museum of Illinois, Good Samaritan Inn & Mercy Gardens, Northeast Community Fund, Salvation Army, Beautify Decatur and the James Millikin Homestead. 

    “When I was a little kid, my mom would say to me, ‘The gift is in the giving.’ You gave us a gift today and you gave the City of Decatur a gift today,” Millikin President Jim Reynolds said, addressing the students at a lunch get-together at Fairview Park. 

    “I’m proud of that and I appreciate all your good work. It is the first of many opportunities this academic year to connect with Decatur and I want to thank ADM and the ADM Cares Foundation for their support.”