UW-Green Bay Chancellor-designate Gary L. Miller fielded questions from members of the media Monday (June 2) afternoon, talking transition during a news teleconference that covered thoughts on impressions and priorities — as well as appropriate winter attire.
Miller will begin his tenure as UW-Green Bay’s sixth chancellor Aug. 1, succeeding Tom Harden, who announced late last year he would step down in summer 2014. Miller comes to Green Bay from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he has served as chancellor since 2011.
Speaking on the challenges of his new role — and those facing higher education in general — Miller referenced funding issues and the challenges and opportunities that come with providing higher education to individuals from a variety of different backgrounds. He said the UW-Green Bay position is attractive in part because of the opportunities to innovate.“I think one of the great opportunities at Green Bay is because of the innovative way in which that institution began, with this 360-look at learning,” Miller said, “There’s a great opportunity there — perhaps one of the best in the country — to develop models for how to educate people for citizenship in this pretty complex world.”
Miller also talked affordability and sustainability, with the latter question referencing UW-Green Bay’s roots as Eco-U.
“As an ecologist, which is what I am, that’s very, very attractive to me,” Miller said. “And I think more and more, as part of preparing students who are just living in this world, whatever we believe about the origins of climate change, we are faced with climate change. And that is going to become more and more important in how we understand economies and the way geography and urbanization and just about everything else that has an influence on the human condition.”
The Chancellor-designate also talked about prioritizing and goal-setting, indicating the need to speak with a variety of individuals on and off campus to determine a way forward when he begins his job Aug. 1. Without hesitation, Miller pointed to the people of UW-Green Bay and the surrounding community as the most exciting aspect of his new role, saying it all comes down to relationships.
Miller also showed a lighter side, laughing good-naturedly when asked his age — “a young 60” — and admitting that while he feels prepared for a cooler climate, he may need some help along the way.
“That’s what I’m going to need,” he said, responding to a reporter’s question about a good winter coat, “ — a lot of advice about what to wear and where to buy it.”
Current UW-Green Bay Chancellor Tom Harden joined the teleconference call from the road, while UW System Regent Tim Higgins of Appleton and UW-Green Bay Chancellor Search and Screen Committee members Prof. Cheryl Grosso and Associate Prof. Jennifer Mokren attended the press conference in person.
“I am very excited about Chancellor Miller coming on,” said Higgins, who chaired a special Regents committee tasked with recommending a finalist for the position. “It is obvious that he struck a chord with our Search and Screen Committee and with the community when he was here to meet people. And I think that’s very important.”
Grosso agreed, emphasizing the need for collaboration in Northeastern Wisconsin.
“I think Chancellor-designate Miller has a great grasp of what it’s going to take to truly bring the University and the region together in terms of meeting needs and economic successes,” Grosso said. “His core values align with the founding principles of this institution — so it’s not just his professional knowledge and experience, but his personal interests and philosophies that really align well with the University’s mission.”