Dr. Scott D. Miller
President of Virginia Wesleyan College
Virginia Wesleyan College turned to one of the most experienced liberal arts college presidents in America to succeed retiring longtime president Dr. Billy Greer.
Dr. Scott D. Miller, president of four private liberal arts colleges during the past 24 years, was elected this spring to succeed Dr. Greer, who held the office for 23 years. Dr. Miller served eight years (2007-15) as President and M.M. Cochran Professor of Leadership Studies at Bethany College, a nationally ranked, classical, residential liberal arts institution and West Virginia's oldest degree-granting college or university. Previously he was president of Wesley College in Delaware (1997-2007) and Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee (1991-97).
Virginia Wesleyan is an innovative, national, residential liberal arts college founded by The United Methodist Church. Enrolling approximately 1,500 students and located on the border of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, VWC's 300-acre wooded campus is ideally positioned to be a prominent education provider in a major metropolitan area. The College prepares students for meaningful lives and careers through experiential learning and a supportive community dedicated to social responsibility, ethical conduct, higher learning, and religious freedom.
Growing up in Pennsylvania, the son of a public-school administrator, Dr. Miller has dedicated his career to the opportunities available through education. An outspoken and passionate supporter of the residential, liberal arts college environment that offers students personalized pathways to life and career success, Dr. Miller is a respected national leader on the challenges, opportunities, and viability of small, church-related colleges.
He earned his B.A. degree in communications from West Virginia Wesleyan College, worked as a journalist early in his career, and earned an M.A. from the University of Dayton, an Ed.S. from Vanderbilt University, and a Ph.D. from The Union Institute and University, becoming one of the nation’s youngest college presidents at Lincoln Memorial University. Dr. Miller, 56, brings to Virginia Wesleyan a lifetime of commitment to the values of a residential, liberal arts campus in a pluralistic society, with an emphasis on teaching, service, student-faculty engagement, and lifelong learning.
Dr. Miller brought his extensive experience as a higher-education leader to Bethany College in 2007, an institution of approximately 1,100 students located on a picturesque and historic, 1,300-acre campus 45 minutes from Pittsburgh. Founded in 1840 and chartered by the Old Dominion, the College traces its origins to the establishment of Buffalo Seminary in 1818 in what was then Bethany, Virginia.
Working from a master plan, Bethany 2020, Dr. Miller identified five key areas of opportunity for Bethany: expansion of the residential campus community through growth of enrollment (1,100 headcount); strengthening of the College’s resource base through a comprehensive $52 million capital campaign, and the signing of a long-term agreement for natural gas extraction on College-owned lands; enhancement of College facilities, student services, and co-curricular programs; enrichment of students’ global learning experiences through study-abroad initiatives; and positioning of the College for even greater academic leadership and influence nationally. Under his fundraising and financial leadership, the College’s endowment has grown to $55 million.
New classes in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012 were among the largest in over 38 years. Student diversity increased from one to 14.5 percent. An additional 300 non-traditional students enrolled in specialized programs for pastors and religious leaders of Bethany’s founding denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) through a re-established Buffalo Seminary. The College’s first graduate program, a Master of Arts in Teaching, was launched, and the curriculum was globalized to include partnerships with 18 international institutions.
Direct academic affiliations were negotiated or renewed with Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, Case Western Reserve University, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and Harlaxton College (England) as well as the Webster University network of worldwide locations. Selected online classes were developed.
Dr. Miller initiated substantial facility improvements at Bethany including the Judith R. Hurl Center for Education, reopening of historic Cochran Residence Hall, the addition of artificial turf, an 1,800-square-foot locker room, an all-weather track, and stadium lights as well as a 24-hour fitness center and other improvements including integration of the Bethany library into the Bowen Central Virtual Library of Appalachia. Dr. Miller’s commitment to student-centeredness resulted in a 2014 profile of him and Bethany in “The Chronicle of Higher Education.”
During his 10-and-a-half-year tenure as president at Wesley College, Dover, Delaware, Dr. Miller launched and led the comprehensive 10-year master plan Wesley College: From Here to 2010, resulting in the construction of $40 million worth of campus facilities including an Academic Village (student residences), an honors house, new athletic complex, tripling of enrollment, creation of a satellite campus in northern Delaware, acquisition of the historic Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, and the addition of several new graduate, undergraduate, and non-traditional academic programs.
He was named President-emeritus in 2007, and the Wesley National Alumni Association initiated the Dr. Scott D. Miller Leadership Scholarships. He was also honored with the naming of the entire sports complex as the Scott D. Miller Stadium.
Dr. Miller has been featured in several books in recent years including “The Entrepreneurial College President”; “The Small College Guide to Financial Health”; “Born, Not Made: The Entrepreneurial Personality”; and “The First 120 Days: What a New College President Must Do to Succeed.”
In February he was one of 22 presidents of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada profiled in “#FollowTheLeader: Lessons in Social Media Success from #HigherEd CEOs.” In March he was named in a national study (by Roland H. King of PhairAdvantage Communications) as one of the “Top 14 Presidents Publishing Op-eds” in 2014. Dr. Miller ranked third in the survey behind Dr. Michael Roth of Wesleyan University.
A highly sought presenter, mentor, and author on higher education topics including financial sustainability and presidential performance for national conferences and trade journals, Dr. Miller is a regular columnist for "The Huffington Post," "College Planning and Management," "Enrollment Manager," and "The State Journal." He is the author of a widely distributed e-newsletter, "The President’s Letter," a daily blog, “Dialogue,” and a campus-wide morning message, “Nota Bene.” He is the co-executive editor of "Presidential Perspectives," an online presidential thought series that has resulted in nine books, and he co-published a second volume of "President to President: Views on Technology in Higher Education."
He has written hundreds of articles and written or edited 11 books and seven monographs, most with his long-time co-author, Dr. Marylouise Fennell, a former college president and current senior counsel for the Washington, DC-based Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), of which Dr. Miller is a former board member and officer. He recently concluded 15 years as chair of the acclaimed CIC New Presidents Program. He is Chair of the Board of Directors of Washington, DC-based Academic Search, Inc., and the technology consortium, Independent College Enterprise.
Prior to becoming a college president, he served Lincoln Memorial University as executive vice president (1988-91) and vice president for development (1984-88). He also served as Director of College Relations and Alumni Affairs at Rio Grande College (now University) in Ohio.
Known as an accomplished fundraiser, Dr. Miller has raised more than $160 million in his 24 years as a college president. During his career, he has earned a number of professional accolades including three Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) "Circle of Excellence Awards" for fundraising improvement and overall performance.
Dr. Miller has been married for 32 years to Annie Cook Miller. They have two adult daughters. Dr. Katie Miller Sanders, her husband Dr. Gary Sanders, and daughter Addison live in Stephens City, Virginia. Ashlee and Justin Upp reside in Dover, Delaware. The Millers are lifetime members of the United Methodist Church.