August 4, 2017 at 9:45am
Dane Lisser

University Commons from Above

This August the new front door to Millikin University's campus, the University Commons, opened. The $31 million University Commons blends together the Staley Library and student center functions into one central location, reconfiguring the existing library and infusing access throughout the 87,000 square-foot building.

A space for research, innovation, and application, the University Commons encourages collaborative learning and achievement. It is home to several Millikin departments, including the Staley Library, Office of Student Development, Office of Inclusion & Student Engagement, WJMU Radio Station and the Oberhelman Center for Leadership Performance.

See an aerial view of the University Commons by clicking on the video below.

"It's right in the middle of the campus. It is our new main center of life–our main street, our commons, including classrooms, a library, banquet hall and dining hall," said Millikin President Dr. Patrick White. "It's an amazing building. We thought about ways in which we could bring a true center to the campus, bringing together the intellectual and academic side of things with the student development offices, as we emphasize Performance Learning inside and outside the classroom."

With the exception of Shilling Hall, an original Millikin structure erected in 1902, the new University Commons is the largest building project in university history in terms of square footage.

Millikin University Commons

The Caterpillar Foundation and Caterpillar Inc. Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman, a 1975 Millikin graduate, and his wife, Diane, provided support to create the new Commons. Their contributions helped fund three areas: The Oberhelman Center for Leadership Performance; a new Center for International Education which is also included in the Commons; and the Long-Vanderburg Scholars program which recognizes high scholastic achievement among those students who have a demonstrated commitment to diversity, leadership, and community service.

The Oberhelman Center for Leadership Performance will provide emerging and seasoned student leaders the opportunity to share resources and develop practical leadership skills in management, marketing and technical areas in a synergistic space featuring student organizations, student collaboration, and laboratory incubators.

Millikin University Commons

Other funding for the Commons was achieved primarily through donor gifts. Three families also made seven-figure commitments to fund construction: MU Trustee Debi Breeding Johnston '89 and her husband, Bob; the late Robert Moorehead '46 and his wife, Charlotte Beesley Moorehead '47; and David J. Rathje '58 and his wife, Debbie.   

The new University Commons is the largest of three building projects included within Millikin University's $85 million "Transform MU" capital campaign.

"The University Commons is a building that transforms Millikin University as it becomes the focus of so much learning and conversation for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and Millikin supporters and friends in the community," said President White. "The Commons is our gathering place, the main street of our lives together, as our students grow as leaders and democratic citizens in a global environment."

For more information about the University Commons, visit