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Chancellor Gary Miller: "An Educated Society is a Society that Contributes"

UNCW Chancellor Gary Miller

UNCW has announced that Chancellor Gary Miller will be stepping down July 31st to take the top position at University of Wisconsin – Green Bay after current Green Bay Chancellor Tom Harden retires. 

The announcement comes after weeks of a very public job search and reports of a rift between Miller and the Board of Trustees. 

There’s no word yet on the naming of an interim Chancellor at UNCW or the timeline for appointing a new person.  But as the Millers prepare to leave Wilmington after three years, the Chancellor spoke with WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn.  Here is Part 2 of that interview.


RLH:  You’ve talked about the creation of CIE, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and MARBIONC as a couple of the accomplishments that you’re particularly proud of.  During your time at UNCW, you really did seem to embrace the notion that the University is a critical part of the larger Cape Fear region… It appears to have been an important theme for you…

GM:  Thank you for recognizing that.  I think it’s very important for UNCW and other comprehensive universities to see themselves as full partners in their communities.   And that was one of the themes of our vision and we set up an office of community partnerships just to make sure that we could do that.  And we, I think, were pretty successful.  I hope the University will continue down that path because more and more, it’s important for universities to demonstrate clearly that they add value to the commonwealth. 

RLH:  You’ve been such an important part of a lot of the community conversations regarding economic development.  If you could get one message across to local government leaders, what would that be?

GM:  We all need to work together with a very diversified portfolio of economic development strategies.  I think the recent study that we did – that I co-chaired with Ted Spring down at Cape Fear -- showed clearly that we need to organize ourselves a little better in the community and we need to work across the entire spectrum of economic development opportunities – from big industry to helping existing businesses to starting new high-impact, high-growth industries.  And we need to be cognizant of the sectors that are real important to us and that we have some strengths in. 

RLH:  Where do you think education in North Carolina is headed?  Should we be concerned?

GM:  I’m certainly concerned.   I think there is a difference in philosophy about both higher education and K-12.  I think there’s no question, at least in my mind, that we’ve got to support public K-12 education and K-through-college education.   I think that has proven to be the engine of prosperity for North Carolina.  And, frankly, an educated society is a society that contributes.  We’ve just got to keep our eye on the ball.  Those are my opinions, but I think that they’re important right now across the country. 

RLH:  Is there a disconnect in Raleigh?

GM:  You know, I think of the agenda for the Board of Governors to the State Legislature over the last couple of years has been very clear about where we believe the legislature could go to really improve education at all levels.  And I’ve supported the President and the Board of Governors legislative agenda which, I think, does draw some pretty sharp distinctions between philosophies there.

RLH:  George Scheibner wanted to be sure that I asked you if you accepted this job because they included Packers tickets in your package. 


GM:  [laughing]  I have been led to believe that there’ll be some access to Packers tickets.

RLH:  Okay.  [laughter]  He’ll be happy to hear that. 

GM:  Actually, the Packers are very, very supportive of the University there and a big partner in the community.

RLH:  Is there anything else, Chancellor Miller, that you’d like to say to this community as you prepare to leave?

GM:  Yes.  Georgia and I love Wilmington.  You have a great University here.  Support it.  Do whatever you can to watch what’s going on and support it, because it’s worth it. 

RLH:  Chancellor Miller thank you very much.

GM:  Thank you, Rachel.

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.