June 30, 2020 at 2:30pm
Dane Lisser

"Ah, there you are Millikin"

As the time has come for Millikin University's 15th President, Dr. Patrick E. White, to hang up his iconic blue cap, we reminisce on what it has meant to have President White lead the University and be the heart of the Big Blue.

Millikin University bids farewell to Dr. White and his wife, Chris, as the University will continue to build upon their legacy and pledge to always look at the tremendous achievements of the MU family and say, "Ah, there you are, Millikin."

Dr. White was elected the 15th president of Millikin University in October 2013, having joined the University as interim president in July of that same year. Under his leadership, Millikin has been revitalized and reimagined through a commitment to Millikin's signature Performance Learning and a new energy for growth in academic and athletic programs, student body and campus facilities.

His tenure as president ends with his retirement on June 30. Dr. White and Chris are moving to South Bend, Ind., where their twin daughters both live.

"I will be retired," White said in an interview with the Herald & Review. "I will be reading an awful lot. I was an English professor and there's still a lot of books I need to read, and re-read, and re-read again. And hopefully spending a lot more time outside. We don't have any great plans to travel the world or anything like that. I like to hike the Indiana dunes and the marshlands around northern Indiana and spend a lot more time just walking around and being out in the natural world."

 

In 2015, under Dr. White's guidance, Millikin completed its "Transform MU" capital campaign 14 months early, exceeding its $85 million goal by over $10 million. This successful initiative led to the design and construction of innovative, transformative facilities on the University's campus. The Workman Family Softball Field, one of the best in the nation, was unveiled for the spring 2017 softball season. The $31 million University Commons, which serves as the "front door and main street" to campus, opened in August 2017, and the University officially opened the new on-campus home of the Big Blue Baseball program with the dedication of the new Workman Family Baseball Field on Sept. 27, 2019.

Millikin's new Center for Theatre & Dance will be completed in fall 2020. For the first time, Millikin's School of Theatre & Dance will have a facility equal in quality and potential to its national reputation. This $29 million state-of-the-art facility will feature a 260-seat flexible theatre with an orchestra pit and balcony, lighting and sound labs, a costume studio, collaboration spaces, costume and design classrooms, modern equipment and office space for current staff with room for growth.

"The softball and baseball fields were 'transformative,'" White said. "The Center for Theatre & Dance turned out to be a bigger and better project than we imagined, and the University Commons turned out to be a very different project than we imagined. I'm proud of the creativity and the ambition to make both of those buildings real game-changers for Millikin."

In a farewell video that was sent to the Millikin campus community on June 30, Dr. White looked back on his years as president summarizing how days were filled with "life and all its complexity."

"I will remember fondly the vitality of Millikin when we are alive in movement, song, dance and sport," White said. "I will remember these days of happiness and what we accomplished together. I was always proud of each of you and the work that we were doing together – the teaching and learning, the caring for one another, and the attention we paid to the great issues and ideas that have animated our time together."

White will continue to watch in the months and years ahead the growth and development of Millikin. He also shared a few words on one of his favorite sentences, "Ah, there you are Millikin."

"It's a phrase that says 'yes, this is who we are,' as we reach for our best imagination of Millikin's identity and character," he said. "It is a sentence of discovery and recognition; a perception that invites an awakening. It's also a phrase of wonder and joy as seeing you in the act of being Millikin makes us happy – because seeing the true Millikin is a wonderful thing full of great possibilities for each and every one of us, and for our whole word."

In closing, President White noted, "I will be wishing you all the best and will be working and advocating for Millikin in every way I can. As I hear of new successes and new achievements, big and little, I will be saying with pride, gratitude and love, with wonder and recognition – Ah, there you are Millikin."    

Dr. and Mrs. White, we wish you the best of luck in your newest adventure. You will never know the full extent of the impact you have made upon Millikin University. Thank you for your leadership, courage, strength and dignity. You don't know how good you are.