Millikin University


Welcome to Millikin University!

Millikin is an independent, four-year university that is privately funded and has an enrollment of approximately 2,200 students in traditional and non-traditional undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Located in Decatur, Illinois, you will quickly discover that the signature of a Millikin education is a unique experience we like to call Performance Learning. Since its founding more than 110 years ago, Millikin has operated under the philosophy of providing an education that combines theory with practice. While this was a radical idea at the time, we know today that practice is not enough. Today's students must perform their knowledge in order to be truly prepared for a successful career after college. Through immersive experiences such as internships, co-teaching, running a business, presenting research to experts, and performing in front of audiences – students find new ways to live out their learning and reap the rewards of their hard work.

The Result:

Millikin students graduate with the experience and confidence to succeed. In 2014, 96% of graduates gained employment or entry to graduate or professional schools within six months of graduation.


To deliver on the promise of education Millikin University has been true to its founding vision for 100 years. Our students learn through real-world projects that reinforce classroom experiences, help develop practical skills, and express the University's responsibility to the community. They learn to see connections with other academic disciplines to demonstrate the diversity of human experience, the interactions between technology and society...And they learn about themselves and others, developing a respect for differences and for the dignity of all. At Millikin, we prepare students for:

  • Professional success
  • Democratic citizenship in a global environment
  • A personal life of meaning and value

Our vision

Millikin University is the national leader in Performance Learning

Our values

At Millikin University, we value:

  • Commitment to the discovery of knowledge
  • Civil debate
  • Passion and enthusiasm
  • Dignity and respect for individuals
  • A diverse and inclusive community
  • Integrity and responsibility
  • Advancement of the greater good

Who was James Millikin?

James Millikin was born in Ten Mile, Washington County, Pennsylvania, August 2, 1827, according to Dr. Albert Reynolds Taylor's research, which found considerable uncertainty as to exact dates. He was the son of Abel and Nancy (Van Dyke) Millikin, a moderately wealthy farmer in Western Pennsylvania. His grandfather came from Ireland as a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian in 1771. His mother was of Dutch origin, whose ancestors came to America in the seventeenth century. James Millikin would later name Van Dyke Street in northwest Decatur in her honor around 1880. Little is really known about his childhood. As a farm boy, James helped drive herds of steers to New York City. In the fall of 1846, he matriculated at Washington College (now Washington and Jefferson College), Washington, Pennsylvania. It was while attending Washington that he made the vow to found an institution of learning, if ever he were able, to fit youth for occupations. The lure of the west called James, and in 1849 he accompanied his father on a sheep drive into Indiana and again in 1850 to Danville, Illinois. During the winter of 1850, he was at Wabash College, although records are unclear as to what he studied, or how long. Returning to Pennsylvania in 1851 for more sheep, he again drove them to Danville with a partner named McFarland. During the 1850's, James continued to increase his flocks and herds. He rented many farms for grazing and was called "the cattle king of the Prairie State." He also started purchasing real estate, most of it from the public domain. In 1856, James Millikin arrived in Decatur, where he continued in his livestock and real estate dealings. On January 1, 1857, he married Anna Bernice Aston, daughter of the Rev. Samuel M. Aston, pastor of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Mount Zion since 1855. Mr. Aston was pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Ten Mile, Pennsylvania when James was in his early teens, and Anna and her sister Nancy had been educated in Washington Female Seminary in Washington. James Millikin entered the banking business in 1860, placing his board J. Millikin & Co. in front of the building that was formerly home to the Railroad Bank, which had recently failed. He gradually reduced his livestock holdings and devoted his interests to real estate and banking, with some investments in the local industry. He assisted in the organization of the Union Iron Works, serving as its president, as well as the Decatur Coal Company. His bank became the largest banking institution in Illinois outside of Chicago. In 1897, he reorganized his bank as the Millikin National Bank of Decatur. He served on various boards in the city, including a member of the Board of Supervisors and as an Alderman. While he ran for State Senator, a distrust of banks that was prominent in the Middle West defeated him. In 1876, he built a house at Pine and West Main Streets in Decatur. Following the founding of the university, Mr. Millikin continued in his banking business until his death on March 2, 1909, in Orlando, Florida. Mrs. Millikin died on July 29, 1913. To the city of Decatur, she left her early benefaction, the Anna B. Millikin Home for aged women, which had been organized in 1879 as the Girls' Industrial School of Old Ladies' Home. In her will, she bequeathed her home and lot to be the home of the Decatur Art Institute, owned by the university and managed jointly by the university and the citizens of Decatur. She had participated in the selection of the university colors and served as chairman of the Women's Hall section of the Building Committee after July 7, 1908. A faculty committee and the Board of Managers would later name this dormitory Aston Hall for her family. The Millikins died without issue, besides the philanthropic gifts to the city of Decatur.

Millikin's Vision

What James Millikin envisioned when he founded Millikin University in 1901 was unique: a university that would embrace the "practical" side of learning along with the "literary and classical;" and, while affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, it would not be narrowly "sectarian" and would remain open to all. The result is one of the nation's first small, comprehensive universities that, a century later, has three professional schools and one for the liberal arts and sciences; a well-rounded university where programs in classical music vie in excellence with those in accounting and the health sciences.

Commitment to Diversity

Millikin University is committed to creating a campus culture that respects and values diversity. At Millikin, diversity is seen in broad terms, including race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, disability, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and age. Through the recruitment of diverse students, staff, faculty, and administrators and by creating an environment that values diversity, Millikin seeks to provide an engaged learning community in which diversity enhances the total educational experience. Millikin University is committed to:

  • Creating a diverse campus population,
  • Fostering a campus atmosphere where diversity is valued, and
  • Generating a campus learning community that embraces diversity.

Millikin continually develops policies and procedures and allocates resources in ways consistent with these commitments. It is the policy of Millikin University to afford equal opportunity for all persons without distinction or discrimination based on race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, disability, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or age.

Millikin University. Where students thrive.

Our passions may be different, but our goals are the same: academic success, career preparation, and personal growth. Millikin University provides you with the tools needed to succeed in each of these areas. Obviously, academics are central to your college experience, but college is so much more than that. We understand that you have needs and interests that extend beyond the classroom and we are committed to providing a supportive environment that helps you focus on what's important. From housing to student organizations, and from mock interviews to intramural sports teams, Millikin has options that will make you feel at home.



1184 W. Main St.

62522 Decatur, Illinois, USA

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