President White provides updates on campus, weighs in on Millikin's economic impact
Millikin University will be featured on the WEIU-TV (PBS) series "City Spotlight" beginning Wednesday, July 10 at 7 p.m. The episode, which includes a one-on-one interview with Millikin President Dr. Patrick E. White, will also air on Thursday, July 11 at 12:30 p.m., Sunday, July 14 at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. and Thursday, Aug. 15 at 12:30 p.m.
As part of this special episode on Millikin University, President White offers an overview of Millikin's facilities and academic areas, as well as a look at the impact Millikin has made on the local community and higher education.
"One of the things we are excited about at Millikin is something we call Performance Learning," said Dr. White. "We have strong majors in theatre, music and nursing, but in all our majors, our students perform. They connect to internships and opportunities, but what is more important, they perform in their classes on campus. It's not enough to know at Millikin, you have to be doing and that puts an interesting spin on how we think about our students and how we think about education."
In reference to those who have recently graduated from Millikin, Dr. White noted, "They are well-trained, happy and successful in doing the work in not just the arts but the economy for young people. They have to be nimble and flexible. We have graduates from three years ago who have had two or three positions in different companies and sometimes different industries. They are making careers, not just getting a job," he said.
Switching to facilities on campus, Dr. White was asked about Millikin University's "Transform MU" capital campaign which was officially launched in May 2010 to help revitalize Millikin's campus through significant advances in creating new student scholarships, increasing endowment and faculty development funds, and improving infrastructure. Completion of three major building projects was also a priority including the University Commons and the new Center for Theatre and Dance.
"We did the University Commons in an exciting and interesting way. We created a building that renovated our library, it created a new dining hall and it created a new university center that offers classrooms and technology," said Dr. White. "It's a space that the students own but it's also a space for the community where people can come together to have conversations and events. We are very proud of the building and it's turned out to be even better than we thought."
Another building project within the campaign was Millikin's new Exercise Science and Sport Pavilion which was completely transformed thanks to the generosity of dozens of donors and the efforts of countless faculty members, students and volunteers.
The Department of Exercise Science and Sport at Millikin has grown considerably over the years with over 200 students. With the new renovations and equipment, the students can prepare for their careers in one centralized location rather than in the previous eight individual facilities on campus.
"This new facility gives us a dedicated space where students can learn how to be professionals in athletic training and sport management," said Dr. White.
Millikin officially broke ground on its new Center for Theatre and Dance during a ceremony held on May 18, 2018. Millikin faculty and staff worked with architects to finalize the floor plans and renderings, and construction is currently in progress with a goal of completion by fall 2020.
The $29 million project will feature a 260-seat flexible theatre which includes an orchestra pit, balcony and tech gallery with a tension wire grid. The new building will also feature lighting and sound labs, a costume studio, a costume classroom, collaboration spaces, and offices and support facilities for current staff and room for growth. President White emphasized that the new Center will be critical to the future of Millikin and its success.
"We have over 300 students studying various fields of theatre and dance, and we will have a dedicated space where students can work together in areas of lighting, technology, sound and costuming," said Dr. White. "In any given year, we have scores of opportunities for our students to perform at every level."
In closing, President White says Millikin's impact on the city of Decatur, Ill., from an economic standpoint is crucial. "The artistic culture and the educational impact are also important, including athletics. We have many people who come from out of state to see performances or attend events. At Millikin, we've become more courageous in thinking about the future and investing in Millikin for the future."