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An update from Millikin

Millikin psychology professor James St. James recently made national headlines, and our office felt it was important to update alumni and friends on the status of his employment. The university’s senior leadership learned of Dr. St. James’ history last month and has reaffirmed he will teach this fall as he has done the past 27 years. Many alumni and current students, especially those who had Dr. St. James as a professor, have voiced their strong support of this decision, while others have asked for his removal from the classroom.

Millikin University stands by Dr. St. James in recognition of his record of educating Millikin students for 27 years. Given the traumatic experiences of his childhood, his efforts to rebuild his life and obtain a successful professional career are remarkable. After being found not guilty by reason of insanity, he complied with the court's ruling and received help for his mental health, after which he rebuilt his life. Dr. St. James has made a positive difference in the lives of hundreds of students since coming to Millikin in 1986.

Differing opinions about his future employment have been expressed, and we respect and understand that not all will support the university’s decision. We affirm that we remain, as always, steadfastly committed to ensuring our campus community is a safe and productive educational environment, always attentive first to what is in the best interest of great teaching and learning and to our shared imagination of Millikin at its best. We realize that we are a university, not a uniformity; we bring people together but do not demand everyone think alike. The Millikin family is a community of thinkers and leaders with strong voices and diverse views. We are a community of care and respect-- it is part of our excellence. Should you have questions or concerns, please call Deb Kirchner, senior director of communications, in the Alumni and Development Office at 217-424-6383 or send an email to alumnews@millikin.edu.

Young Alumni Spotlight: Jaron Lancaster '11
Jaron Lancaster

Current job position (or additional field of study) and where:
I play bass for the band Northridge along with Tyler Tarquini (Millikin student), Travis Leonard and Steven Hopkins. I am also a receiving lead at Bed, Bath and Beyond in Encino, Calif., in my spare time.

Class year:

Why did you choose MU, and what did you study?
I chose Millikin University based on a former professor, Mark Rubel, and the commercial music program.

What is your most memorable MU experience?
The countless nights stowed away in Millitrax [recording studio] working on sessions. The real world experience I gained from the sessions there has mentally prepared me for the professional studio culture.

What activities did you participate in as a student?
Throughout my four years at Millikin, I was involved in MUCC, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and the Guitar Ensemble. Through my junior and senior years, I was employed as a studio manager in Millitrax and as stage manager at Kirkland Fine Arts Center.

What is one concept you learned at Millikin that you use in your work regularly?
The biggest thing I learned while attending Millikin was how to communicate in a professional manner. It is my responsibility with Northridge to forward our shows on tour and to solve all logistical and technical issues with promoters and tour road managers.

What's the best advice you ever received?
Ronnie Dean, the technical director of the commercial music program, told me to use the tools I had in front of me — there was no need to complain and worry about what I didn’t have.

Who was your most memorable MU professor and why?
Dr. Dave Burdick, without a doubt in my mind. He was full of anecdotes that seemingly never ended, yet they were entirely applicable to the topic in a roundabout way. I learned a lot from that guy.

Where do you hope to be five years from now?
I hope to be making music and still performing.

When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I probably wanted to be an astronaut.

What do you enjoy most about your current job?
I am able to work with the people around me every day at something we feel passionate about. Most of the time, it doesn’t seem much like work.

What have you done that you are most proud of since graduating from MU?
Taking the leap of faith, moving to Los Angeles, and giving my dream of performing music a chance.

What is a short piece of advice you'd give to current Millikin students about preparing for life after graduation?
You must not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Take advantage of every opportunity set in front of you.


Want to be spotlighted as the "Young Alum of the Month?" We are seeking recommendations and self-nominations for outstanding young alumni who have demonstrated innovative and responsible professional leadership and have the potential for future success. Email Jaclyn Weisenborn '09, associate director of alumni engagement, with a short write-up of why you or your nominee should be considered for this profile. Please include a list of successes and achievements in your nomination, and attach a portrait or headshot (if available). One alum will be featured each month in MY Times.

What's new on campus: The Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement

New this fall at MU is the Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement (ISE). Seeking to have more emphasis on each student's identity and what it means to be an inclusive campus community, this office was formed from a merger of the Office of Student Programs and the Center for Multicultural Student Affairs. The staff is composed of new and familiar faces that you would recognize from other areas on campus. Quantrell Willis is assistant dean of the new office, Molly Berry is director, Alicia Gilbert is associate director, Tonya Hines is coordinator and Tammy Morrison is administrative assistant.

ISE is the hub of campus life, connecting students to leadership opportunities and assisting with personal development. ISE is a place where students can come and be themselves, hanging out in comfortable seating and getting to know the staff.

No programs or events were lost when these former offices merged; in fact ISE plans to bring more educational opportunities to campus this year in addition to involvement with campus-wide signature programming, such as First Week, Homecoming and celebrations like the MLK vigil and Conversation on Race. Among the new programs are celebrations of Native American History Month in November and Asian-American History Month in May.

All alumni are invited to visit the Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement in Lower RTUC. We are happy to welcome you home.

Career Corner: Summer Tips

As summer winds down, take time to consider your transition from student to professional. Think about how you can continue to move toward your personal and professional goals. Even though you are no longer gearing up for a semester of classes and activities at MU, this time of year can still offer you that moment of mental transition to plan for a new season of success.

Tips for 20-somethings
Doing some things the old-fashioned way may be beneficial in the modern workplace. There is a plethora of information out there about the different generations currently working together. Keep in mind that your colleagues may have different values and workplace expectations. A recent article in Forbes magazine outlines 20 tips to give recent college grads an edge in the workplace. From taking the time to read a book cover to cover to being willing to push yourself to your professional limits, this article offers “tough love” advice to empower young professionals:

Stay Connected Through Big Blue Jobs
At CollegeCentral.com, you can register as an alum and view job listings, access career preparation content, upload resumes and create online portfolios for free. Registered alums can also participate in the online mentoring network, connect with other MU alums or sign up to serve as a mentor for alums and current students. Learn more about mentoring.

The mentoring network is a partnership between the Alumni and Development Office and the Career Center. We hope to see this resource continue to grow and be utilized for the continued professional growth of the Big Blue!

Big Blue Jobs can also benefit you as an employer. It’s easy to register and post jobs that will be shared exclusively by Millikin students and alumni. Learn how to register as an employer.

Mark Your Calendars for the Early Recruitment Career Fair
Are you in job search mode? Consider attending the Early Recruitment Career Fair on campus Sept. 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the lower level of Richards Treat University Center. It’s a great opportunity to network with recruiters from a variety of organizations. Look for more information on the Career Center’s website. You may also want to spend some time at www.iscpa.org and save the date for the ISCPA consortium’s CareerFest Career Fair set for Jan. 31, 2014, at North Central College in Naperville, Ill.

Connect with the Career Center and let us know of any ideas you have that would help us serve you better. Enjoy the remaining days of summer and take time to ponder, plan and pursue your career success!

By Kristin Nisbet-White, assistant director of the Millikin Career Center

Big Blue Love: Hugh and Alida Duff Sullivan
Hugh and Alida Sullivan

Hugh Sullivan and Alida Duff Sullivan, both '06

We were both BFA studio art majors with concentrations in photography and graphic design.

Hugh is from Chicago, and Alida is from Fillmore, Ill.

When, where, and how did you first meet at Millikin?
Alida: We were both students in Annette Russo’s Design Orientation class freshman year, but really didn't become friends until second semester of sophomore year, when we had three classes together.
Hugh: We first met as freshmen in an art class, but we didn’t really talk much. She was busy actually doing her work, while I goofed off and tried to make my classmates laugh. We talked a little bit when we helped a visiting artist build a trebuchet in the parking lot, but other than that it wasn’t until sophomore year that we became friends.

What do you remember about the first time meeting each other?
Alida: The first time I really noticed Hugh, I thought ‘who is this guy with the crazy hair making everyone laugh and creating scary artwork?’
Hugh: I don’t remember as much as Alida. She remembers not being too happy about the couple times I got away with slacking on big art projects. But the first thing I noticed when we actually had a conversation was her laugh. I liked it, and liked that I made her laugh.

What did you do on your first date?
Alida: For our first date, I joined Hugh in co-hosting his Beatles-themed radio show on WJMU. While the songs played, we studied for our photo art history midterm, which was the next day. We found that we both had a knack for creating funny pneumonic devices for remembering artists, and we instantly hit it off. Afterward, we couldn't be separated and continued to study, eat cookie dough and watch movies together.
Hugh: Our first date was pretty nerdy. I was having a really hard time in Art History, so Alida agreed to co-host my Beatles radio show at WJMU and help me study. We ended up hanging out all night, starting off watching “Snatch” at my dorm. When I walked her back to her place, we decided we didn’t want to stop hanging out and ate cookie dough out of a tube while we watched “The Princess Bride.”

Where was your favorite place to hang-out together at Millikin?
Alida: One of our favorite places has to be Pilling Chapel. Hugh is a talented pianist, so throughout our years at Millikin, we spent many hours around the grand piano.
Hugh: I think we spent the most time in Pilling Chapel. The piano in there is amazing. We would go there all the time to play music and sing together. One of my favorite wedding photos is of us at that piano.

What is your most memorable Millikin experience as a couple?
Alida: While the first three years of our relationship were built around great experiences at MU, my favorite Millikin memory is our wedding day, July 5, 2008. We were married on the Miller Quad and had the reception in Lower RTUC. When it came time to choose a place for our wedding, we both knew Millikin was the perfect location.
Hugh: While we were students, our trip to the Southwest was pretty amazing. After graduation, our wedding on the Mueller Quad would be the most memorable experience at Millikin.

Where has your relationship taken you since Millikin?
Alida: Hugh and I have been together for nine years, married for five years and are the proud parents of three cats and a box turtle.
Hugh: Since that first time helping me study for Art History, Alida has always been a constant source of encouragement. We live in Decatur doing what we trained for at Millikin, and we push each other to be creative and have fun.

What advice would you give young couples in love at Millikin?
Alida: Some of our favorite dates involved seeing performances at Kirkland, attending art receptions and watching the fireworks at Homecoming, so take advantage of all the great opportunities that campus has to offer.  

Hugh: Don’t skip class to hang out with each other. Not that I ever did that…


Want to share your story of how you found love at Millikin? Email Jaclyn Weisenborn '09, associate director of alumni engagement, with your expressed interest. One couple will be featured each month in MY Times.

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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL