Dr. Elaine Miller
Spanish Language and Literature; minor in French
Please describe some of your accomplishments after Millikin
Completed M.A. in Spanish Language, Literature and Culture at Indiana University. Year of study in Argentine Literature and Folklore on exchange fellowship at University of Buenos Aires. PhD in Spanish Language, Literature and Culture at the University of California at Los Angeles. Faculty positions at several California colleges and University of Massachusetts. Department chair and dean at State University of New York. Director of Peace Corps/College Degree Program at SUNY Brockport – trained math/science majors for Peace Corps service in Latin America and Africa. National Endowment for the Humanities seminar on "Humor in Cross-Cultural Perspective," at University of California, Berkeley.
What aspects of your Millikin education have helped you in attaining professional/personal success?
My experience majoring in Spanish, tutored and supported so kindly by Dr. Martha O'Nan. She hired, at her own expense, a Spanish-speaking member of the Decatur community who gave me the necessary native speaker interaction. She guided me toward grad school at Indiana University, which laid the foundation for my ongoing post-grad education. Dr. Dorothy McClure, chair of Phys. Ed., supported my love of sports. One year when there were no Phys. Ed. majors in the class, she appointed me as a student assistant to teach a variety of classes, which led to some funny experiences. She also got me a job as counselor at a girls’ camp in Eagle River, Wis., by persuading her friend who owned the camp to re-consider offering me a job even though my swim strokes, demonstrated in a test we were given, were unimpressive.
Did any members of Millikin's faculty and staff especially influence your educational experience? Who and how?
I was fascinated with [former professor of English] Dr. Neal Doubleday's approach in his course on American literature. In addition to emphasizing writing by racial and ethnic minorities, he taught us to explore important questions about the development of the discipline – the relative absence of women writers in the anthologies of the time. It was an early exposure to the direction my academic career would take – Women's Studies and Hispanic-American Culture. When I retired from my last teaching position (SUNY Brockport), I endowed an annual scholarship for majors in Women’s and Gender Studies and Modern Languages and Cultures.
What was your best Millikin experience – in or out of the classroom?
Hard to choose .... The above two categories identify academic experiences. On a life-on-campus level, I'd say one is freshman year in Aston Hall, with all the shenanigans that entailed, and the housemother drawing a group of us aside and telling us that we should strive to be role models for the others. On a lighthearted note, it was always thrilling to hear my code for incoming phone calls (two long, three short) emanating from the one telephone on the fourth floor, located at the center of the corridor. And, also, the Tri Delts (my sorority) always winning Greek Sing.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I do long-distance bicycling in the States and overseas, including a cross-country trip California to Florida, Venice to Pisa, and the Camino de Santiago. An essay about the cross-country trip is included in an anthology of women's travel stories called “Outside of Ordinary.”
I also publish and do presentations on political cartoons as social critique, and have two videos in distribution with Icarus Films on political cartoon portrayals of Geraldine Ferraro as VP candidate in 1984, and Hillary Clinton as First Lady. My website has more information: www.ekmillerproductions.com
Writing a memoir with a group of women who have been together for eight years is one of my most compelling projects.
I play percussion in a band called New Horizons, an international program for people of retirement age sponsored by the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. (And I tap dance once a week, to lots of laughter.)
I’m a member of the Rochester, N.Y. Women's Giving Circle, which supports girls' and women's work toward achieving economic independence.
Please offer words of advice for a high school student who is considering Millikin as a college choice.
If it has the program you're interested in, that's great. If you don't yet know what field you want to pursue, Millikin will give you good guidance toward finding it.