by Jackson Rioux
Central Connecticut State University President Jack Miller retired on Sept. 19 after a memorable 11-year run with the university. Miller, who announced his retirement earlier this year, has received praise from administrators and students.
“I think he leaves an exceptional legacy on a number of fronts,” said CCSU Director of Athletics Paul Schlickmann. “I think he’s done as much as anybody to advance the profile and quality of the institution.”
Schlickmann also called Miller a “tremendous fan and supporter.”
“Our athletic complex is the best in our league, and he was a big mover in engineering that,” said Schlickmann. “He’s helped us increase our status in the NEC and our scholarship offerings.”
Miller’s stamp on CCSU goes well beyond athletics. During his tenure, CCSU has seen growth on multiple fronts. The university’s endowment has tripled to $63 million. Renovations, new residence halls and academic buildings have further advanced the image of CCSU.
“I thought he was a very good president,” said senior Vinnie Rosa. “He always had a smile on his face and supported the school.”
CCSU Travelers EDGE Program Manager Kate Wall believes Miller’s legacy will be one that kept students’ interests in mind. “I think when people look back on the legacy of Jack Miller, they’ll think of somebody who was first and foremost for the students,” said Wall. “There are a lot of new buildings that he was instrumental in getting the financing for.”
Miller, however, is most proud of the massive increase in graduation rates that took place during his time at the university. CCSU had a graduation rate approximately 40 percent when Miller first took over. It has since risen to 57 percent. He hopes it will be one of the lasting images of his presidency.
“I want the 230 students a year to graduate now that wouldn’t have graduated under our old graduation rate to remember that some things happened and a lot of people put in effort to have them succeed,” said Miller.
Before arriving at CCSU, Miller served as the chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He spent time at Florida State University as the Dean of the College of Education and was also an administrator at Georgia Southern University and Wichita State University.
Miller had never spent more than “six or seven years” at a university before his time at CCSU. His 11-year stay in New Britain gave him a perspective his past positions had not.
“If I had left here after six years, we wouldn’t have gotten half done,” he said. “I look back now and say, ‘Well, maybe I should’ve stayed longer at some of these other places because it takes longer to do some of this stuff then you would hope and think.’”
Miller has not played an active role in finding his replacement. “That’s not for the people that leave, that’s for the people that are here to think about,” he said. He is willing to answer any questions, but wants to give the next president “plenty of room.”
He did offer some advice: “If they get ready to ask me what the single biggest problem is, I’ll say, get ready to deal with some really tough budget times.”
Miller’s life in retirement will feature a move to Florida. His house in Connecticut has already been sold and he plans to be on his way to the Sunshine State by the end of the week. Despite the far move, he will be coming back to visit CCSU for events and games sometime in the next six to nine months.
The retired president gave a few humble words when asked how he would like to be remembered by students.
“Well, I hope they think a little bit about their success, the only thing I do and represent is the students’ success,” said Miller. “If the students aren’t successful, then I’m not successful.”