Leading with humility and grace Millican uses business success to touch lives

To know him is to like him.

An overstatement? Not when it comes to Don Millican.

And to all who know him and like him – from the friend Forbes magazine ranked No. 24 on its list of the 400 Richest Americans, to the daughter who he taught to seek out her own faith and the former student who credits him with making taxation law come alive – it’s clear how much Don Millican loves Oklahoma Christian University. And he never even enrolled as a student.

Millican is chairman of the OC board of trustees, the father of two OC alumni, the philanthropist who honored his father with the JJ Millican Endowed Chair in Accounting at OC and the man who lives the words of Micah 6:8: “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Don was named to the OC board in 1996 when he was a partner with Ernst & Young and a taxation expert who worked for companies such as Wal-Mart, Exxon-Mobil, Tyson and Kaiser-Francis Oil Company.

His work with Kaiser-Francis was so impressive that George Kaiser, Tulsa oil and banking magnate, invited him to become Kaiser-Francis’ executive vice president and chief financial officer in 2002.

“Of all the people I have known and worked with closely, Don has perhaps the greatest combination of personal charm, humility, technical skill, analytical rigor and communication ability. Add to that, his very strong charitable commitment – grounded in both his religious conviction and personal sense of moral obligation,” said Kaiser, who is consistently named one of the world’s richest businessmen by Forbes and one of the world’s most generous philanthropists byBusiness Week. “Don is clearly the whole package; there is no one better to have by your side.”

Ken Kinnear, vice president and treasurer at Kaiser-Francis, says the words counselor, teacher, servant and leader are just a few that describe Don.

“Don quietly and anonymously lives out the charitable characteristics Paul describes in II Corinthians 8 and 9. In all other aspects, Don’s life is an open book. He and Donna have hosted countless interns and missionaries in their home, providing them with safety, shelter, sleep and food at no cost. Don is the same person at work and at church as he is on the golf course or at a rock concert – solid, steady and controlled, enjoying the blessings of life,” Kinnear said.

The Millicans have three children – Carrie, Eric and Kate – and five grandchildren. Eric and his wife Summer, as well as Kate and her husband Luke, are OC graduates.

“It has always amazed me how my parents have been so involved with a school that neither one went to. I know that even if we weren’t alumni, that they would still be as involved. They just believe that strongly in what OC stands for. They believe that strongly in the mission of Christian education,” Kate said.

Don is also an avid and enthusiastic traveler. His friend Philip Smith discovered that during Don’s first trip to Israel.

“Whether it was walking the streets of Jerusalem, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, standing on Scapegoat Mountain, or sitting by the Pool of Siloam, we could all watch Don’s excitement as the pieces of the Biblical narrative dropped into place,” said Smith, a private investor in Tulsa. “I believe that trip changed the Bible from a black-and-white book into a wide-screen, Technicolor movie in Don’s head.”

Don serves as an elder at Tulsa’s Park Plaza Church of Christ, where Mitch Wilburn is the pulpit minister.

“Don’s leadership at our church is leveraging the love of Jesus not only into our city, but also across the world,” Milburn said. “His influence has sparked the members of our church into igniting the gospel of Christ in their own lives, which has resulted in our entire church catching fire for Jesus.”

By Dawn Shelton (90)