December 5, 2013


Greg Millican: NACC Instructor Shares His Insights and Passion for Teaching

Instructors at Northeast Alabama Community College focus on helping students find the keys to their own successes. They are at Northeast because they want to be there and because they deeply love the subjects they instruct. Simply put, they teach because they love to teach. They thrive on knowing that they can make a difference in a student’s life both in and out of the classroom. And, college classrooms are dynamic work environments. Stimulating the minds of students and helping them learn is a challenging task that constantly requires new ideas and a fresh outlook.

One such instructor is Greg Millican who has been employed at Northeast since 1992. He said, “Going to work each day is really not a chore or a dread. I love what I do. I believe the best teaching assumes there is something very right about the student. It is exciting for me to invest my life’s work in helping others achieve goals and dreams for their own lives.”

Greg Millican

Millican considers teaching a very rewarding and satisfying profession. In planning the next calculus, statistics, or algebra lesson he likes the challenge of drawing from past experiences in teaching that particular topic and drawing out a guide map for how he can take the student along the road to understanding. Each lesson presents a unique challenge. He loves the interaction with the students. “Some I have the privilege of teaching for several semesters as they work through their precalculus, calculus, and differential equations courses,” he added. “I believe we become friends somewhere along the way, and I miss each class as they graduate and move on to their senior college.”

Millican believes he has learned something from every student he has taught. “I can think of several students I taught at Northeast and Fort Payne High School who have gone on to be what society considers a success – teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, pharmacists, and so on, but I really feel my most successful students are the ones who did their homework,” he stated. “They are the ones who left the class with something they did not arrive with – knowledge.” The students Millican has had the opportunity to know best have been those who have served the college as Mu Alpha Theta (mathematics honor society) officers. As a co-sponsor of the Northeast chapter of Mu Alpha Theta for 19 years, he feels blessed to have worked with what he considers the best students in northeast Alabama. There are still several former officers and math tutors who stay in touch with him although they have been away from the college for many years now.

The excitement level among NACC math and science faculty is quite high right now. “As we see the new Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Technology Center construction nearing completion we know this is going to be great for our student body,” offered Millican. “Rodney Land and I were given the opportunity to work with the architects and help design the building based on student needs. We toured Emory University in Atlanta to gather ideas when we were in the early planning stages for the new building. We have gathered input from mathematics and science instructors and believe this is going to be a special addition to the campus. The highlights of the building, I feel, are the student learning zones. Other than the many classrooms and labs, there are several areas for students to congregate and study either in groups or individually. Also, there will be new spaces and opportunities for faculty to use technology with their students.” This, as well as simply having more instructional space, will be a great benefit for all. With the many opportunities for employment in north Alabama in the field of engineering, the new building will make obtaining an education in these areas even more accessible for students in the college’s corner of the world.

As Division Director of Mathematics Millican is responsible for the curriculum, textbooks, and scheduling for the twenty-two mathematics instructors and three physics instructors employed by Northeast. He writes the semester schedule for day and evening on campus, online, and selected off campus courses. He also serves on eight committees at the college, including the Curriculum Committee and the Educational Programs Committee for SACSCOC Compliance.

Millican is an honors graduate of Northeast, Athens State University, and the University of Alabama. He received an academic scholarship to Athens State University, and upon graduation with his bachelor’s degree in secondary education mathematics, received an award for the Highest Scholastic Achievement in the Division of Education. He was elected Mr. Athens State College in 1988 and 1989. He also received the Northeast Founder’s Chair Award as the Most Outstanding Faculty Member for 1999-2000. As division director of mathematics, the college received the award for the top developmental education program in the state of Alabama during the November 2012 Alabama Association for Developmental Education Conference.

Millican has two younger brothers, Chris and Jonathan, who are both graduates of NACC. Chris is a pharmacy manager and pharmacist in Rainsville and Jonathan is a financial planner in Birmingham. Millican’s wife Lesa is also a graduate of Northeast and is a teacher. His daughter, Lauren, graduated with honors from Northeast this past May. She was awarded the President’s Cup, among many other honors and scholarships at Awards Day and is currently enrolled at Athens State University. Millican considers his parents, David and Linda, his role models in life. His greatest accomplishment would have to be outside the realm of his career. “I feel that my family and faith are most important, and my career is a reflection of these areas of my life.”

“I would suggest that if someone wants to become a teacher who will really make a difference in their students’ lives, then they need to be prepared to work,” he said. “Effective teaching, as with any profession, will require a strong work ethic. We teach nineteen different courses within the Division of Mathematics, and the planning time along with assignment creation and grading of papers is a time intensive pursuit. Patience is important as well.”

If you are interested in becoming a teacher, go to the college’s website at or download the college’s free App from the Apple App Store or by going to Spring semester registration is January 3 & 6, 2014.

Article written by and photo taken by Debra A. Barrentine, Director of Promotions and Marketing at NACC.