Next year President Peggy Miller will leave 11,000 students, a Division-1 school, new research proposals, new construction and many students who will miss her.
“Filling big shoes is one thing the next president will have to do,” said Courtney Fraser, a senior nursing major. “She’s done a great job with SDSU.”
Miller has been the president at SDSU for the last nine years. When she decided to leave the presidency, a few factors added into the equation.
“I am making sure it will be a smooth transition for the next president. We are just going to be finishing up with the 125th (anniversary) celebration, new staff will be in place, and more work will be done for the research grant,” said Miller.
Five months from her 70th birthday, Miller realized now is a good time for retirement.
“Since skydiving is out of the question, I plan to stay closely involved with SDSU during my retirement,” said Miller.
“President Miller has done a tremendous job serving the students of SDSU. Over her tenure as president, some significant changes have moved our university forward. She not only enhanced SDSU, but the state of South Dakota,” Said Ryan Brunner, Student Association president.
“President Miller has a great relationship with her students and a positive can-do attitude.”
Troy Miller, a senior news/editorial journalism major said, “She actually remembered me the second time we met, which was impressive, considering how many people she meets everyday.”
A search committee is forming. Three Board of Regents members will sit on the committee. Students interested in serving on the search committee should call Students’ Association at 688-5181. The process will start later this spring and conclude early next fall. Brunner will serve on this committee and help select students for the committee.
“President Miller had an enormous impact on my education and the education of all SDSU students over the years, were are all really going to miss her,” said Troy Miller.
Kristin Marthaler: When are you officially retired?
Peggy Miller: January l, 2007
Marthaler: Do you plan on being involved with the university after you retire?
Miller: I will stay out of the way of the new president so he or she can get to work, but I will always be available to work for the university the rest of my life doing fundraising for scholarships and the Daschle Center and helping when I am asked.
Marthaler: What made you decide to retire?
Miller: A president needs to identify the best time for the university to have a transition so that there is no gap in the progress that it is making. Even though I would love being president forever, this is the right time for the best transition to new leadership.
The reasons are that it will be at the end of our 125th anniversary, all of the proposed new facilities will have been completed, underway or approved. We will have finished Phase I of the Lead Forward Land Grant plan and have Phase II underway. The tough part of the D-I transition will be over, and the university family and the wider community will have proof and confidence that our teams are competitive at the next level. With the new doctoral programs, the university will be within easy reach of the new academic level (Research Intensive University) and we will have the Research Park firmly established. We will be at our all-time high in the number of students and the quality of those students.
Finally, I will then be about five months from my 70th birthday, and Bob will have passed his 80th milestone. Those are ages when our energy might begin to fade, and we would not be able to carry the kind of schedules both of us expect the presidency to carry.
Marthaler: How long have you been with the university?
Miller: I am in my ninth year
Marthaler: What brought you to SDSU in the first place?
Miller: When I was nominated to apply, I began to learn more and more about the university, and I knew it was a really good place that had the potential to keep on building on its great history.
Marthaler: Do you feel you have left an impression? Done morethan past presidents?
Miller: I think every president makes a contribution. We each try our best to build on the good work of the president before us. Each president tries to be a strong link in a chain of progress for the university.
Different presidents need to different things at different times; everyone makes a difference.
Marthaler: What do you have to say about the comment, “The next president will have big shoes to fill.”
Miller: Well, it makes me feel very good, because I want to believe that it means I have helped students and faculty and the whole university family.
Marthaler: What are you going to do during retirement?
Miller: Well, I have ruled out skydiving, and I know I will always be willing to help SDSU, but everything else is open for discussion!
Seriously, Bob and I bought a house in Volga some time ago where we expect to live during most of the year. We will go to Florida in the worst of the winter, and we hope to travel to see our children more than we have been able to recently. There are also some places in the world we hope to see.
On the other hand, we are both such strong believers in education, I suspect the first thing we run into that will help education will find us volunteering to help.
Marthaler: Any last words?
Miller: We have lots to do this year, and we want to see the Wellness Center building started, a building in the Research Park, some new Ph.D. programs, some more Jackrabbit Guarantees, the Daschle Center plans completed (we now have $1 million for it), and a commitment in place for the next phase of the Performing Arts Center before we go. We would also like to see the Jacks in the conference of their choice.