Award for Excellence in Faculty Service
Professor of Education
During his 33-year career at PSU, Robert Miller has been an educator, chair of the psychology department, associate dean for academic affairs, interim chair of the education department, a member of countless committees, and much more. But for Miller, it isn’t who or what you are, but what you do.
“I have a strong sense of duty,” he says. “When there are things that need to be done, I feel a responsibility to do something.”
While many of Miller’s service endeavors have been inspired by his sense of duty, the ones that are closest to his heart have been inspired by his belief that service, scholarship, and teaching are parts of a whole, and complement one another.
Miller was still a new faculty member in the Department of Psychology when he was recruited to help create an academic advising center. That early effort laid the foundation for advising at PSU and sparked a deep and enduring interest in Miller, who, for many years afterwards, was a member of the University’s advising committee. He has also presented workshops on academic advising to his colleagues. These experiences, says Miller, have enhanced his ability to guide students through their educational careers.
Another service endeavor especially meaningful to Miller is his long-time involvement with Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC). Long before the movement was embraced by American schools in the early 1980s, Miller used writing in the classroom to stimulate learning, not just to measure it. When Mary-Lou Hinman, a former English professor and founding coordinator of Plymouth State’s WAC program, stepped down as coordinator in 1994, Miller stepped into the role—a move that, he says, “changed my life.”
Not only did his involvement in WAC inspire him to shift his scholarship focus to writing-based topics, it also led him to learn something about himself. “When I became coordinator of the WAC program, I wanted to learn how we at PSU teach writing to students,” Miller explains. To do this, he volunteered at the English department’s Reading and Writing Center, and took a first-year composition course with Meg Petersen, which awakened in him an interest in writing fiction, specifically plays. It also led to Miller’s teaching courses in English, including Writing and the Creative Process and Composition, which he will teach in fall 2009.
Perhaps the greatest impact Miller’s service has had at PSU is in the development and implementation of PSU’s current general education program. As a member of the General Education Task Force, he played a critical role in revising the proposal for the new program, and assisted departments across campus in implementing it.
Miller’s service to the University and students will continue with his newest endeavor, as assistant chair of the Department of Education. It’s a role that will get him back to his roots in advising. Miller also plans to get back to his roots in another area—volunteering for the University’s Writing Center.
While Miller is planning to retire when his tenure as assistant chair ends, he appreciates the long and rewarding career he has enjoyed at Plymouth State. He says, “The University has given me the flexibility to try new things and to redefine myself.”