SPARTANBURG, S.C. (courtesy converse.edu) — Converse University has received a $2 million commitment from the Milliken & Company Charitable Foundation — one of the first multi-million dollar gifts of the newly-formed foundation. The commitment is the lead gift to help launch phase one of a $7 million renovation project of the Milliken Fine Arts building on Converse’s Spartanburg campus, with renovation project details shared at a later date.
“For more than six decades, Milliken & Company and their associate community have provided generous financial support to Converse that has included annual operating support, major gifts to campaigns and building projects, and the establishment of the Milliken Scholarship Program in 1978,” said Converse Interim President Boone J. Hopkins. “We are incredibly grateful for the gift from the Milliken & Company Charitable Foundation, which will enable the first phase of the renovation and help to breathe new life into the building that is used by both Converse students and the greater community.”
The award-winning Milliken Fine Arts Building houses Converse University’s Department of Art and Design and the Milliken Art Gallery. Justine V.R. “Nita” Milliken, a lifetime member of Converse’s Board of Trustees, contributed $2 million towards the construction of a 14,000-square-foot expansion that was completed in 2002. She and her husband, former Milliken & Company CEO Roger Milliken, were the principal donors of the original fine arts building, which was constructed in 1971.
Spanning three floors with a dedicated art gallery, the Milliken Fine Arts Building offers a variety of lecture studios, computer-aided design (CAD) and graphic design labs, a photography darkroom, faculty studio lofts, ceramic kiln and sculpture yards, and an additional student art gallery. Converse University offers undergraduate degree programs in Studio Art, Art History, Art Education, Art Therapy and Interior Design, as well as graduate degrees and an alternative certification in Art Education.
During much of the year, the gallery is filled with the work of a wide variety of professional artists. In addition to exhibiting, visiting artists present workshops and lectures that are often open to the public.
In April and May, the gallery displays exhibits by Converse students. The Milliken Art Gallery also houses the J. Frank Toms Permanent Collection, containing works of some of the most famous artists of the 20th century.
“The Milliken & Company Charitable Foundation is pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with Converse through this multi-year commitment,” said Milliken & Company President and CEO Halsey Cook. “Milliken’s purpose—together we strive to positively impact the world around us for generations to come—comes to life through the efforts of our foundation. This gift will help open a new chapter for the Milliken Fine Arts Building as it serves the Spartanburg community.”
The Milliken name at Converse is synonymous with vision, growth and excellence. Coming alongside the legacy of Mr. and Mrs. Milliken, Milliken & Company values higher education and is an ongoing supporter of the university. Milliken & Company Charitable Foundation’s commitment emphasizes the important tie between the global manufacturer and Converse.
The Milliken & Company Charitable Foundation harnesses the spirit of Milliken giving to serve the numerous communities where the global manufacturer operates. Positioned as a strategic partner with local reach and high impact, the foundation upholds Milliken’s purpose, values, and vision as it provides grants both large and small. Through this lens, the foundation looks to make a positive impact in our communities that will last for generations.