BETHANY, W.Va. — Pledging to build on nearly 170 years of academic excellence and emphasizing the importance of utilizing a team approach to embrace the challenge of change in the 21st Century, Dr. Scott D. Miller was formally installed as the 19th President of Bethany College on Friday afternoon.
“While the College is justly proud of its rich heritage and traditions as West Virginia’s oldest private college, we must also take some informed risks and implement strategic plans to validate our status as a national liberal arts college,” Miller said to the large crowd of dignitaries, alumni, faculty, students, friends and family that filled Bethany’s historic Commencement Hall. “Many of you are, or soon will be, involved in helping to shape the future of Bethany as part of a proactive and comprehensive Master Plan to inform the College’s planning through the year 2018.
“A minister of whom I’m aware recently referred to his church’s ongoing renovation as ‘rearranging the landscape a bit.’ This metaphor is, I believe, apt for Bethany as it looks to build on a very strong foundation while adapting to the future. Our transformative, decade-long plan with the objective of creating a stronger, more sustainable Bethany College for a new century need not make fundamental structural changes, but we must, of necessity, ‘rearrange the landscape a bit.’ ”
The traditional ceremony also featured remarks from a broad assortment of prominent academic and business leaders. Gregory Jordan, Chair of the Bethany College Board of Trustees and Global Managing Partner of Reed Smith, LLP, conducted the formal investiture. Jordan presented Miller with the symbols of his new office and administered the formal charge.
“I have never been more excited about Bethany’s bright future than I am today,” Jordan said. “I join my colleagues on the Board of Trustees in wishing Dr. Miller continued success in advancing the vital mission of this fine institution.”
Other distinguished speakers welcoming the College’s new President included Board of Trustees member Robert Nutting, President and CEO of The Ogden Newspapers, Inc.; Rev. Thaddaeus Allen, Regional Minister for The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Dr. David R. Black, President of Eastern University; Dr. Paul Chewning, President of the Appalachian College Association; and Dr. Marylouise Fennell, RSM, Senior Counsel, Council of Independent Colleges. The invocation was delivered by Bethany College President Emeritus Dr. D. Duane Cummins (1988-2002), Historian for the Disciples of Christ Historical Society. Dr. James Farwell, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy, gave the benediction while special music was provided by David Rudari, Assistant Professor of Music.
More than 40 academic institutions sent delegates to the event and letters of congratulations were received from 200 colleges and universities. The flags of 31 states and territories, 10 countries and 10 Greek organizations were carried by students in the colorful processional, signifying the diversity of the Bethany student body. The delegates and students were joined in the opening march by the Board of Trustees, faculty and officers of the College. A reception was held on the corridor of Old Main following the ceremony.
One of the ways Miller plans to “rearrange the landscape” is through the formation of synergistic partnerships with other institutions, both public and private. Miller said those arrangements allow two or more educational organizations to work together in offering a wider range of opportunities for faculty, students and the communities they serve than would be possible if the schools were limited to their own finite resources.
“We at Bethany have already unveiled some of these alliances with other institutions such as the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, the West Virginia Governor’s Honors Academy, the InterAmerican Consortium fostering international study opportunities, West Virginia Northern Community College and others,” Miller said. “We offered graduate and on-line classes for the first time this summer. On Monday, we will announce another exciting international partnership that will expand opportunities for our students. You will be hearing more about these and other creative partnerships that we will launch in the months ahead.”
The 49-year-old Miller has been a college president for the past 18 years and comes to Bethany on the heels of a decade of success at Wesley (Del.) College. He was named President Emeritus at Wesley after helping Delaware’s oldest college triple its enrollment and double its endowment while completing a $40 million capital improvement and construction project. Miller was one of the nation’s youngest college presidents in 1991 when he was inaugurated as the 16th President at Lincoln Memorial University. He served seven years as President of the Tennessee institution before accepting the position at Wesley.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Miller earned his B.A. from West Virginia Wesleyan College and worked as a journalist in central West Virginia before beginning his career in higher education as Director of University Relations and Alumni Affairs at the University of Rio Grande in Ohio. He holds an M.A. from the University of Dayton, an Ed.S. from Vanderbilt University, and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from The Union Institute & University.
Miller’s doctoral dissertation was a landmark study of resource development effectiveness at the 38 member institutions of the Appalachian College Association — a group that included Bethany College. Miller has also completed post-graduate studies at Ohio University and Harvard University. He and his wife, Annie, are the parents of two daughters, Katie and Ashlee.
“Guided by these hallmarks — calculated risk taking, courage, leadership, vision and synergistic partnerships — let us, together, begin,” Miller said. “With your participation in the inclusive master planning process, Bethany will be a college well-positioned for challenges of the future while still very much the academically rigorous, values-centered community for which we are known today.”