MILLIGAN COLLEGE –– A record number of students have been attending Milligan College this fall semester, with 1,210 students registered for classes, the school announced Thursday.
“We’re excited about crossing the 1,200-student threshold,” Milligan College President Bill Greer said. “We hit 1,000 (students) four or five years ago and since then we’ve continued to increase every year.”
There are 914 traditional undergraduate students and 296 graduate and adult students at Milligan, the school said.
“One of our main goals is to always provide the very, very best education that we can and very best student experience that we can,” Greer said. “And that means that we don’t necessarily have a vision or a desire to be the largest school that we possible can be. We want to just be the best school that we can be.”
One way to do that is by adding students through managed growth, Greer said. He said the school wants to have good students and this year’s freshman class an average ACT score of 24 is higher than the state and national averages.
“That’s a very good sign that we’re not just growing in numbers but we continue to grow and increase in quality,” Greer said.
Milligan is a Christian liberal arts college established in 1866. Greer said the mission to train servant leaders in Christ is strong at the school.
“That is very important to us that our students are coming here not just for career preperation, although that is very, very important, but they’re also seeking ways they can serve in the world as they continue their lives,” Greer said.
One reason for the continued increase in Milligan’s enrollment is from recruitment and retention efforts by the college, but it is also the economy, Greer said.
“It’s important to keep in mind that, for example, the unemployment rate among college graduates is only four or five percent, whereas for non-college graduates its into the teens or beyond.”
More students means the campus is getting crowded. Greer, who only recently became the school’s 15th president, said he considered campus housing a priority.
“We’re continuing to work on those plans and work on some funding initiatives to make that happen,” Greer said of new housing at Milligan, adding he hoped to have news about that in the near future.
As students are added to campus, more than new beds must be added. Programs of study must be revamped or added. Greer said the college is constantly evaluating programs and determining what best fits Milligan and the students who attend.
“In recent years our health care programs –– nursing, occupational therapy –– have continued to grow,” he said. “And I think that’s in response to the demographics of the world and the economy that we live in. And we just always need to be sensitive to those changes.”
Saziye Ozhayta, a Milligan freshman from Sidney, Ill., is one of the 308 students who enrolled this fall. That is the largest number of new students to ever enter the college.
Ozhayta, who is majoring in digital media communication, said her mother enrolled her in a youth conference at Milligan about three years ago. She loved it an felt God had called her to attend Milligan.
“I worked three years on getting into here and God has just been good, getting me into here,” she said. “When I first came here I just felt at home, just through everything I was doing.”