Milligan College is located in Carter County in East Tennessee. Its origins go back to a Buffalo Male and Female Institute (1866) chartered by a small Christian (Disciples of Christ) congregation. In 1882 Josephus Hopwood upgraded it to a college named after a revered professor at Kentucky University. Hopwood, the dominating personality in the early history of the college, served as president until 1903 and coined its enduring motto, “Christian Education–the Hope of the World.”
A new era began in 1917. The new president, Henry J. Derthick, a beloved “shepherd unto the hills,” completed the four main buildings that survived World War II, when the college converted all its facilities to a Navy V-12 program and created a competitive liberal arts college to serve youth from the nearby mountains. A temporary postwar boom led all too quickly to near disaster. A scandal in the president’s office, major faculty resignations, an overly costly sports program, and a sharp drop in enrollment (to under 300) led to near bankruptcy and a loss of regional accreditation.
The modern era began in the dark days of 1950. Dean E. Walker came from Butler University as the new president. He aligned Milligan with a conservative and independent faction (Christian Churches and Churches of Christ) within the Disciples movement. This helped win increased financial support from sympathetic individuals and congregations. The less regional and growing student body (866 in 1995-96) increasingly represented this fellowship. Milligan, with growing financial stability and a much expanded campus, regained regional accreditation in 1960.
In the 2000-2001 academic year, over 900 students were enrolled at Milligan. The college offered twenty-nine majors. Donald R. Jeanes, an alumni of the college, became the institution’s fourteenth president in 1997.