President Scott D. Miller
In his 32nd year as a college president, Dr. Scott D. Miller is one of the most experienced and prominent liberal arts college leaders in America. Recognized by numerous books and publications nationally for his transformative leadership style, he was identified in the book “The Entrepreneurial College President” as one of 17 most entrepreneurial presidents in American higher education. He is regularly listed on "The Power List," an annual Inside Business feature recognizing those who have the most influence in shaping the Hampton Roads/Coastal Virginia region.
In 2015, he became president of Virginia Wesleyan, a highly regarded, national liberal arts college. He is guiding the transformation of Virginia Wesleyan University from "an aspiring local college to an inspiring international university."
Previously, Dr. Miller served as president at Bethany College in West Virginia (2007-15), Wesley College in Delaware (1997-2007), and Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee (1991-97). At LMU, he was just 31 years old at the time of appointment, the youngest college president in the nation.
His four presidencies and 33 years of service as a CEO are rare for higher education leaders. According to the American Council on Education "American College Presidents Study," just 1.1 percent of leaders were on their fourth presidencies in the most recent year of the survey. More than 98 percent of respondents had held fewer presidencies and less than one percent have served at least 32 years. According to a 2022 report by University Business, Dr. Miller is seventh in the country for length of service among all presidents and chancellors.
He is the quintessential modern successful president—innovative, adept at resource acquisition and creative excellence focused on the major challenges of our time, top leader in the business community, and noted academic researcher and author. Dr. Miller 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, research, leadership, service, student-faculty engagement, environment, and lifelong learning.
One of his top priorities as Virginia Wesleyan president has been building partnerships with Coastal Virginia communities and strengthening ties with Virginia Beach and Norfolk to establish VWU as the region’s premier institution for the liberal arts and sciences. Advancing that vision and mission, he serves on a number of prominent local boards, including the Hampton Roads Chamber, Virginia Beach Vision, Greater Norfolk Corporation, the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, and the Virginia Tidewater Consortium for Higher Education.
In 2020, he completed a two-year term as Chair of The Climate Leadership Network (formerly The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment) and sits on the Board of the prominent national environmental advocacy organization Second Nature.
Virginia Wesleyan has enjoyed significant growth and development during Dr. Miller's tenure. Accomplishments include:
- transitioning to university status.
- strengthening its identity and earning a place among national liberal arts institutions.
- establishing the highly selective endowed Batten Honors College, a graduate program, and an online program.
- formulating a 10-year Campus Master Plan, Corrective Maintenance Plan, Capital Campaign Plan and Academic Plan.
- constructing the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center, the state-of-the-art Greer Environmental Sciences Center, the nine-building Coastal 61 at Oxford Village complex, TowneBank Park (construction of softball and renovation of baseball), and DeFord Manor (president’s residence).
- structuring of the academic program into the Susan S. Goode School of Arts and Humanities, the Joan P. Brock School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, the D. Henry Watts School of Professional Studies, the Birdsong School of Social Science, and VWU Global Campus.
- Adding a campus in Tokyo, Japan, in partnership with Lakeland University Japan (VWU Global, Japan).
- constructing the Frank Blocker Youth Center to house partner affiliates, YMCA Camp Red Feather and Tidewater Collegiate Academy.
- capital improvements of over $110 million ($60 million on the main campus and $51 million on the north side).
- Increasing the endowment from $53 million in 2015 to $121 million in 2021.
- initiating Virginia Wesleyan's largest fundraising campaign.
Born in the Philadelphia community of Ridley Park and having grown up in the campus communities of Doylestown and Edinboro, he is the son of a public-school administrator. Dr. Miller has dedicated his career to the opportunities available through education. He is an outspoken and passionate supporter of the residential, liberal arts college environment that offers students personalized pathways to life and career success.
He earned his B.A. degree in communications from West Virginia Wesleyan College, worked as a journalist early in his career, and completed an M.A. from the University of Dayton. He earned an Ed.S. from Vanderbilt University and a Ph.D. from The Union Institute and University.
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;” “The First 120 Days: What a New College President Must Do to Succeed,” and “#FollowTheLeader: Lessons in Social Media Success from #HigherEd CEOs.”
He was named in a national study (by Roland H. King of PhairAdvantage Communications) as one of the "Top 14 Presidents Publishing Op-eds," ranking third in the survey behind Dr. Michael Roth of Wesleyan University. He is also widely considered one of the most active presidents on social media in America.
Throughout his career, he has earned a number of personal and professional accolades. In 2022, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities named him as a Humanitarian of the Year for his efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion at Virginia Wesleyan and throughout higher education. He was named President-emeritus at Wesley College 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 Wesley College sports complex as the "Scott D. Miller Stadium." Scholarships in communications and leadership are also named in his honor at West Virginia Wesleyan College and Bethany College. The Bethany Communications and Media Arts Awards are named in his honor. His undergraduate alma mater, West Virginia Wesleyan, recognized him with its highest distinction, the Doctor of Humanities degree, honoris causa, and Universidad Interamericana of Costa Rica/Panama awarded him the distinguished Presidential Medal for founding the InterAmerican Consortium.
A highly sought presenter, mentor, and author on higher education topics including financial sustainability and presidential performance for national conferences and trade journals, he has been a regular columnist for The Virginian-Pilot, HuffPost, College Planning and Management, and Enrollment Manager. He is the author of a widely distributed email newsletter, “The President's Letter,” a daily blog, “Dialogue,” and a campus-wide morning message, “Nota Bene.” For 10 years he served as the co-executive editor of “Presidential Perspectives,” an online presidential thought series that has resulted in 10 books. The series transitioned to a new name, “President to President,” and new sponsor in 2016. He has co-published five volumes of “President to President.”
He has written hundreds of articles and written or edited 16 books and seven monographs, most with longtime co-author Dr. Marylouise Fennell, a former college president and senior counsel for the Washington, D.C.-based Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), of which Dr. Miller is a former board member and officer. In 2015, he concluded 15 years as chair of the acclaimed CIC New Presidents Program and the technology consortium, Independent College Enterprise (ICE). He is Chair of the Board of Directors of Washington, D.C.-based Academic Search, Inc.
He recently concluded a two-year term as president and chair of the Board of Directors of the North American Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities (formerly National Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities of the Methodist Church). During his time at Bethany College, he served on the Board of Directors of The Council of Colleges and Universities of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and was president of TCCUCC for four years.
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 $400 million in his 32 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 40 years to Annie Cook Miller, and they live on the Virginia Wesleyan campus in the president’s residence, DeFord Manor. They have two adult daughters. Dr. Katie Miller Sanders, her husband Dr. Gary Sanders, daughter Addison, and son Gavin, live in Stephens City, Virginia. Dr. Ashlee Miller Upp, her husband Justin Upp, daughter Abigail, and son Brycen reside in Dover, Delaware.
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