In his words: A conversation with UW-Green Bay chancellor-designate Gary L. Miller

On Monday, June 2, the University of Wisconsin System announced that Gary L. Miller will become UW-Green Bay’s sixth chancellor as of Aug. 1. In a brief interview, Miller answered some questions about the appointment and his future as the University’s next leader.

Photo: Gary L. Miller, phone pull-quote "If you’ve got great passionate folks who love their university and love their town, then you can do almost anything.If you’ve got great passionate folks who love their university and love their town, then you can do almost anything."

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A transcript of that interview is as follows:

Kelly Moore: Thank you for taking some time to speak with me — I know it’s a very busy day for you. We just wanted to give our campus community some thoughts on your chancellorship, as our chancellor-designate, and get some thoughts from you about the next couple months and moving forward as of Aug. 1.

First of all, just some initial thoughts on today’s announcement. What are you feeling right now?

Gary Miller: Well, I’m very excited. This is an opportunity I wanted, and Georgia and I were so warmly welcomed in Green Bay. We both left there believing very strongly we could make a home there, and I just love the faculty, I love the people there — so I’m excited.

KM: I know you spoke about it while you were on campus, but what drew you to UW-Green Bay and indeed to the Green Bay community?

GM: Green Bay has been an innovator in higher education for a long time — its interdisciplinary approach. And I just think, as we talked (about) on campus, that this is really the model for the future where we’re having to prepare students for a pretty complicated world. So I’m excited that the faculty believes that and that we can move forward with that idea.

Of course there are other reasons — Green Bay is a great city that I’ve known about for some time, one of the largest cities in Wisconsin, and I like working in cities. The University of Wisconsin System is certainly one of the most respected in the world. So all those together make this a great opportunity at a great time.

KM: Terrific. And what were your impressions of campus and community when you visited us? I know it was a bit of a whirlwind.

GM: It was, but the campus is beautiful. The facilities are beautiful. But what really struck Georgia and me when we were there were the people and how warm they were. We had a really great time while we were there, and you know these universities and these cities are all about the people — and that was our strongest impression. If you’ve got great passionate folks who love their university and love their town, then you can do almost anything.

KM: Wonderful. And what will be your first priorities as of August one?

GM: We need to do a lot of discussion with the campus community and the Green Bay community to think about where to go next. I have some of my own ideas but we’re going to start that conversation through the summer and organize it into the fall and make it a community effort. So our vision will grow from our joint consensus about where the university wants to go. But certainly I like what’s there now, so I want to make that stronger, and we’ll start with the great work that’s being done there now.

KM: What’s left for you to do in Wilmington? Obviously a time of transition — exciting, probably some stress as well. Can you talk a little bit about that?

GM: We’ll be here until the end of July — we have a lot of work to do. We’ve had some senior leadership transitions as well that I’m going to need to take care of. We’ve got strategic initiatives and of course we’re right in the middle of our budget season with the state legislature — we’re going to have to get that buttoned up before we leave. We’ve got plenty of work — I’ve got a little vacation planned and I hope that Georgia and I will get to Green Bay several times during that period so we can start to meet people, get organized and understand where everything is. So we’re planning to be there some of the time between now (and then) and work with Tom and the faculty to make it a smooth transition.

KM: What should the people who didn’t get to meet with you when you were in town — what should the campus community, as well as the broader Green Bay community, know about Gary Miller?

GM: Georgia and I are family people. We have three grown children and five grandchildren. We love our cities — we love higher education. I like to play golf, we like to read, we like to be outdoors and we think of ourselves as people who enjoy being around other people. So I hope the people in Green Bay will see us a lot and get to know us, and we’re certainly going to reach out to them. We enjoy friends and we like being around passionate, committed people.

KM: I know it’s a busy day — thank you very much for your time. We will be chatting a bit more later with some members of the media, as well. Until then, is there anything you would like to add for the purposes of this interview?

GM: Thank you, Kelly. I’m just extremely excited. This is a great day and a great opportunity for me and it’s a great honor. It’s a great honor for me.

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