Millikin University Awarded $5.6 Million Grant from Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE)

The grant was part of $400 million awarded to private institutions of higher education in Illinois.

DECATUR, Ill. – Millikin University was recently awarded a $5.6 million dollar grant from the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) through the Independent Colleges Capital Investment Grant Program. 

Millikin campus

The award was part of $400 million dollars in grants to 45 institutions of higher education in Illinois in partnership with the Illinois Capital Development Board, which oversees the construction of new state facilities, such as prisons, state parks, mental health institutions, and college and university projects.

The grant program's goal is to provide financial assistance to private, not-for-profit colleges and universities in Illinois for the construction, repair and renovation of infrastructure on campuses to provide equitable learning experiences to students across the state.

"Adequate campus facilities and infrastructure are important in ensuring our students have equitable learning experiences,” said IBHE Executive Director Ginger Ostro. “Private institutions are a valuable part of Illinois’ higher education ecosystem, and these funds will help institutions complement the work to close equity gaps outlined in each institution’s equity plan.”

Millikin was awarded $5,619,825, and most of the funds are planned to go toward the completion of the David J. and Debra C. Rathje Athletic Center. The estimated $11.7 million, 16,675 square-foot facility will be located immediately south of Frank M. Lindsay Field and west of Griswold Physical Education Center and is expected to be completed by early 2025. 

Rathje Athletic Center Groundbreaking
The groundbreaking ceremony for the David J. and Debra C. Rathje Athletic Center in September.

"We're grateful to the IBHE for approving our request for funds to help complete the Rathje Athletic Center. This award will be used as part of our financial commitment to building a space where our student-athletes can thrive in practicing their sport but also gather together to build connections that will last a lifetime,” Millikin President Dr. Jim Reynolds said. “It's of great significance that the IBHE continues to help institutions like Millikin to provide funding for the facilities which contribute to the excellent education students receive at independent colleges and universities in Illinois." 

Rathje Athletic Center plans
An artist's rendering of the new David J. and Debra C. Rathje Athletic Center. 

The Rathje Athletic Center will benefit Big Blue student-athletes, and the building floor plan includes: 

• A weight room named in honor of former Big Blue Football Coach Carl Poelker ’68 and Jim Perryman ’83, a former NFL player.  

• Locker rooms to accommodate football and men's and women's track and field. 

• A training room, conference and recruiting room, and team meeting room for multi-purpose use. 

• Football Hall of Fame, retired jersey, and team recognition area. 

• Offices for Head and Assistant Coaches and the Athletic Director.

As a part of the grant application process, which was aligned with the IBHE’s goal to close equity gaps, institutions submitted equity plans to describe their strategies for closing gaps in enrollment, persistence, completion, and student loan repayment for historically underrepresented students – including students from low-income households, students of color, working adults and students from rural areas.

The funds were distributed to institutions using a two-part formula outlined in the state statute. The formula provided each qualifying institution 1) a base grant based on the Fall 2017 student enrollment numbers as reported to IBHE and 2) an FTE grant based on the Fall 2022 student enrollment numbers as reported to IBHE.