Millikin University mourns the death of President
Millikin University President Emeritus Dr. J. Roger Miller, who served Millikin University as president from 1971 to 1991, passed away on Oct. 14 at the age of 88. Dr. Miller was the longest serving president in Millikin's history.
Dr. J. Roger Miller came to Millikin in 1959 as head of the music education program and director of the marching band. In 1960, Miller was named dean of the School of Music, followed by a promotion to vice president for academic affairs in 1966. When President Dr. Paul McKay became ill with cancer, Miller served as executive vice president during McKay's illness. Following the death of President McKay in 1971, Miller was named Millikin's ninth president.
"Millikin University has lost a true giant in our long history – a great leader, a great friend, and a loyal son," said Dr. Patrick E. White, Millikin University president. "President Emeritus Miller was a leader whose impact on the University he served so long and well is still being felt."
As president, Miller became known for his planning and creating a strategic plan for the '70s and '80s with a goal to carry Millikin through to the 21st century. He was dedicated to providing students with a liberal arts education, as well as practical professional skills for careers, true to the Performance Learning model set by University Founder James Millikin.
Throughout his presidency, Miller regularly worked to complete items from the strategic plan. During his tenure, Staley Library was built, along with a new student center and four new residence halls, and a $6 million renovation of Shilling Hall was completed. The James Millikin Scholars and the Presidential Scholars programs were created under Miller and doubled in size during his tenure as president.
"I was convinced that when all the pieces fell together, Millikin could become a truly outstanding small university," Miller said in a 1991 summer Millikin quarterly magazine interview. "As we began to realize that dream, I think each year my commitment to Millikin grew that much more."
Miller was a very involved president, and he and his family were active on campus. His wife, Arlene, completed a second bachelor's degree at Millikin and led a life of hosting and attending events with her husband.
Upon retirement, the Millers moved to Venice, Fla., and later settled in Durham, N.C. President Emeritus Miller had been an active member of his community, serving as the chairman of the board of the Durham American Heart Association, as well as president of their retirement community. He also served on the board of directors for the Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement, where he both taught a course and completed several courses.
"I was proud to see the impact that Millikin has on people during their college years and the impact that it has on the Decatur community," Miller said. "The quality of Millikin is always growing."
President Emeritus Miller demonstrated his pride and appreciation for Millikin by creating an endowed award in his name given out at Honors Convocation each year to a deserving senior with high scholarship who is involved on campus. Additionally, his legacy lives on with the couple's creation of the Dr. and Mrs. J. Roger Miller Centennial Quad in the center of campus.
The Millers were most recently on campus in May 2013 to attend the Commencement of their granddaughter, Alexandra Miller '13.
Miller is survived by his wife Arlene, four children, Gregory '72, Deborrah '75, John, and Charles '84; and nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
In the coming days, Millikin University will hold a service in honor and memory of President Emeritus J. Roger Miller. Further information will be provided as soon as plans are finalized.