Millikin’s Leighty-Tabor Science Center Celebrates 20th Anniversary

The 84,000-square-foot facility was dedicated on April 13, 2002.

Leighty-Tabor Science Center

DECATUR, Ill. – The 20th anniversary of the dedication of Millikin University's Leighty-Tabor Science Center was recently celebrated, with guests getting the chance to take a closer look at all the learning opportunities that the Center has to offer. 

The Leighty-Tabor Science Center has stood tall on the Millikin campus since its dedication on April 13, 2002. The 84,000-square-foot facility currently houses four Millikin departments - Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Nursing

The building's architectural focus was designed to provide students with a hands-on learning experience in scientific principles and research - the hallmark of Millikin's signature Performance Learning educational experience.

"It is exciting that it is 20 years old, but it is also exciting that it is only 20 years old," Professor and Chair of Physics & Astronomy Casey Watson said. "A lot of private universities of our size have very old facilities. It is still quite young compared to most science buildings." 

Guests could take self-guided tours of the Science Center's five floors which included museums, state-of-the-art laboratories and stargazing on the top floor.

The Dr. William Barnes Butterfly Collection is on the second floor of the Leighty-Tabor Science Center. 

On the first floor, guests could tour the William Andrew Kuhnke Museum, which showcases the Earth's biological diversity and some rare bird specimens - including the extinct Passenger Pigeon and the Kakapo, the world's only flightless parrot.

The second floor offered a closer look at the Dr. William Barnes Butterfly Collection. Barnes, the founder of Decatur Memorial Hospital, collected thousands of butterflies during his lifetime. His extensive collection was loaned to Smithsonian Museum after he died in 1930 and returned to Decatur in 2016.

Millikin Coaster
Laser-printed coasters celebrated the Leighty-Tabor Science Center's 20th anniversary.

Guests could look closer at nature's tiniest inhabitants at a microscope-viewing lab on the third floor. The fourth floor offered a window into the laboratory experience, including receiving a 3D laser-printed Millikin coaster printed right there in the lab. 

On the fifth floor, the Observatory let guests view the night sky with smaller telescopes as well as the 20-inch reflecting telescope housed in the Larry D. Haab Tower. 

The 20-inch telescope in the Leighty-Tabor Science Center is the largest publicly available in Illinois. 

"The Center has been serving us well for the past two decades. It is quite modern, and the Observatory is a great touch. For it to house a 20-inch telescope is very special," Watson said. "It is the largest in Illinois that is publicly available and is a centerpiece of the campus. We use it all the time for public observation nights and other astronomy-related events. The community can come to enjoy stargazing using some of the best equipment available in the state."

The facility is named in honor of two Millikin alumni: the late John A. Leighty, Class of 1931, a scientist who worked on the team that helped develop penicillin, and the late Mrs. Roberta "Bobbie" Morris Tabor, Class of 1936, a generous Millikin philanthropist.