What was unusual were the occasional breaks employees took to watch a livestream of the State Board of High Education (SBHE) meeting, where the group of citizens appointed by the governor to set policy for public universities discussed WSC’s need for a new president, with Dr. John Miller, who has served as acting president since June 2016, in attendance.
When the SBHE unanimously appointed Miller as WSC’s fourth president, emails went out, staff and faculty raced through the halls to share the news, and a group of employees gathered to decorate Miller’s office with balloons and streamers in celebration.
Those present on campus were quick to voice their excitement at the decision.
“Dr. Miller is supportive and understanding of the unique roles that faculty members have,” Kim Weismann, Chair of the Department of Arts and Human Sciences, stated. “I am sure [he] will continue to lead WSC in a positive manner.”
Kaylyn Bondy, WSC’s Vice-President for Student Affairs, noted that she is pleased to work alongside Miller as he steps into his new role.
And Terry Olson, Executive Director of the WSC Foundation, a nonprofit agency that manages donations made by community members and alumni to the college, had nothing but praise for the decision.
“Dr. Miller is a great fit for WSC, the region, the community and the state of North Dakota.” Said Olson.
Olson also expressed his satisfaction with what Miller has already accomplished.
“I have found Dr. Miller to be a very student focused [acting] president,” he said. “[He] has the leadership skills to be very pragmatic in dealing with difficult decisions.”
In fact, according to many employees, Miller has already been a force for positive change at the college.
Kim Wray, WSC’s Director of Extended Learning, was quick to point out that under Miller’s tenure as acting president, the college saw growth in enrollment, as well as improvement in employee morale.
Meanwhile, Weismann, who serves as President of WSC’s Faculty Senate, noted that Miller has pushed faculty to develop a strong balance between work and home life.
“He has been an active listener when [faculty] express our thoughts and opinions,” she said.
Miller, a career educator with over thirty years of teaching and administrative experience spanning both K-12 and post-secondary education, joined WSC as Vice-President for Academic Affairs in 2015. Prior to this, he held a variety of positions, including Director of Operations for a 7,500 student K-12 school system and Instructional Dean for Extended Studies at the College of Southern Idaho.
Miller received his bachelor’s and doctorate from the University of Idaho and holds a Superintendent’s endorsement for K-12 education.
Staff and faculty at WSC look forward to seeing what Miller will bring to the future of the college.
“I am sure over the next several months Dr. Miller will continue to make WSC the place where the people make the difference,” said Wray.