December Graduates' Recognition Ceremony and Reception More

Office of the President

President Scott D. Miller

Dr. Scott D. Miller is one of the most experienced and prominent liberal arts college presidents in America, having led four colleges and universities for more than 27 years. 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 was recently 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 affiliated with the United Methodist Church. He is guiding the transformation of Virginia Wesleyan University from “an aspiring college to an inspiring 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.

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 partnering with Coastal Virginia communities and strengthening ties with Virginia Beach and Norfolk so that Virginia Wesleyan University is their 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.

He was recently named 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. His leadership at Virginia Wesleyan was featured in the fall 2017 Dwyer Strategies publication as one of the most “amazing transformational stories” of the past 13 years. Accomplishments include: 

  • transitioning to university status.
  • strengthening its identity and earning a place among national liberal arts institutions.
  • completion of two highly successful Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reviews (10-year reaffirmation and substantive change to graduate level) and a 10-year reaffirmation of affiliation review by the University Senate of The United Methodist Church.
  • establishment of the highly selective Batten Honors College, a graduate program, and an online program.
  • formulation of a 10-year Campus Master Plan, Corrective Maintenance Plan, Capital Campaign Plan and Academic Plan. 
  • construction of the new state-of-the-art Greer Environmental Sciences Center.
  • 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 Birdsong School of Social Science, and University College.
  • construction of the Frank Blocker Youth Center to house partner affiliates, YMCA Camp Red Feather and Tidewater Collegiate Academy.
  • capital improvements of over $60 million with another $51 million coming in 2018-19.
  • initiation of Virginia Wesleyan's largest fundraising campaign.

Born in the Philadelphia community of Ridley Park and growing 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 2015 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. 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, Dr. Miller is a regular columnist for The Virginian-Pilot, HuffPost, College Planning and Management, and Enrollment Manager. He is the author of a widely distributed e-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 three volumes of President to President.

He has written hundreds of articles and written or edited 14 books and seven monographs, most with his longtime co-author, Dr. Marylouise Fennell, a former college president and current 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.
Dr. Miller serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities of the Methodist Church and recently completed two years as Chair of the Association of Educational Institutions of the Virginia Conference of the United 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 $300 million in his 28 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 35 years to Annie Cook Miller, and they live in Ocean View. They have two adult daughters. Dr. Katie Miller Sanders, her husband Dr. Gary Sanders, daughter Addison, and son Gavin, live in Stephens City, Virginia. Ashlee Miller Upp, her husband Justin Upp, and daughter Abigail, reside in Dover, Delaware. The Millers are lifetime members of the United Methodist Church.

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