August 15, 2016 at 2:30pm

Millikin University Evolving

Millikin University is set to begin its 2016-17 academic year with the first day of classes on Aug. 22. Among the changes on campus include 23 new faculty members, a new dean and new academic majors.

In terms of updates around campus, construction on the 87,000-square-foot University Commons is in full swing and is scheduled to be complete prior to the start of the fall 2017 semester. The $27 million University Commons including the Staley Library will be created through a blending of both old and new as the original Staley Library structure, completed in 1976, is completely renovated and a large addition is constructed on the south side of the building. The new University Commons is one of three building projects under Millikin University's $85 million "Transform MU" capital campaign (TMU).

Shilling Hall

"We are working extra, in the evenings and on weekends, to get ahead," said Ruby James, vice president of finance and business affairs at Millikin. "The building will likely be ready in early July, then we need to move in and get settled."

Millikin is welcoming several new faculty members to campus including Dr. Najiba Benabess as the new dean of the Tabor School of Business. Dr. Benabess replaces Dr. J. Mark Munoz who served as interim dean during the search process.

Dr. Benabess was previously the director of the School of Business and Management within the College of Professional Schools at Norwich University in Northfield, Vt. She came to Norwich University in 2007 as an assistant professor teaching a variety of courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics and quantitative methods.

Najiba Benabess

Her areas of expertise include industrial organization and international economics. She is a strong proponent of service learning, entrepreneurship and global engagement, and she strives to create partnerships across the academic and business communities.

"Millikin is a community where educators rise beyond expectations and students are the priority," said Dr. Benabess. "My vision for the Tabor School of Business is to produce graduates who are ready to work and lead."

As for the new academic majors at Millikin, three are from the School of Education within the College of Professional Studies. The majors are early childhood developmental therapy, instructional development and Spanish education. The Spanish education major is pending approval from the Illinois State Board of Education.

School of Education

"Foreign language education and English as a second language instruction has been a high need area in Illinois since the 1990s," said Dr. Christie Magoulias, director of the School of Education.

The other new majors are environmental studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and arts technology in the College of Fine Arts.

Millikin's Environmental Studies Program is an interdisciplinary program that enhances knowledge of the complex and dynamic relationship between humans and the natural world. Students will develop a deeper understanding of the complex connections between environmental issues and their social, political, economic, scientific and ethical underpinnings.

Arts Technology consists of a core of foundational courses in a range of arts-related technologies along with courses in arts entrepreneurship. Students will choose an area of concentration from the following: Live Performance Technologies, Audio Production and Visual Media Production. Course work is practice and project based, incorporating Performance Learning opportunities throughout.

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