Most of his life, William P. "Bill" Miller '77 has been preparing, unknowingly, for his role as president of the Duke Alumni Association. His late grandfather was a Trinity College graduate. His father, Jim Miller '47, played football for the legendary coach Wallace Wade, and his late brother, James T. Miller '74, was Duke's first wheelchair graduate.
"I've been involved with athletics all my life," says Miller. "And I was a manager on the football team under Coach Mike McGee. I never got far away. I went from Duke to law school in Chapel Hill, but I would still be cheering in Cameron whenever possible."
He's a longtime volunteer. When he joined the High Point, North Carolina, law firm Roberson Haworth & Reese, where he is now a partner, Miller first got involved in the Duke Club of High Point, serving as president from 1988 through 1989. He joined the local Alumni Admissions Advisory Committee, where he worked in helping establish the Trinity Scholars program. Trinity Scholarships are awarded to outstanding students from the Carolinas, many of them from Guilford, Davidson, Montgomery, and Randolph counties.
In 1995, Miller was asked to serve a three-year term on Duke's Athletics Council, which assisted in the search for the new athletics director, Joe Alleva. He joined the DAA board of directors in 1998 and has been a member of its executive committee since 2001.
Miller has also been active outside the Duke community. He has presided over the American Business Clubs and the High Point Arts Council, and he has chaired the Church Council, Staff-Parish Committee, Commission on Evangelism, and Council of Ministries for his church, Wesley Memorial United Methodist, in High Point. Miller and his wife, Stephanie, live in Greensboro. Their fourteen-year-old son, Alex, is a ninth-grader at Woodberry Forest School, and their twelve-year-old daughter, Cait, is a seventh-grader at Aycock Middle School.
Serving as alumni association president during a period of transition--working with a new university president and a new alumni director--doesn't faze him. He characterizes it as "building on strength," while celebrating a record of successes. "The great thing about this time of transitions," he says, "is that the first half of my year as president, we get to celebrate the legacy of Laney [Funderburk '60, who steps down in December]. The second half, we get to welcome Sterly Wilder ['83] in her first year as executive director. Her roots are awfully deep at Duke; that will make it easy. And that dovetails with the other campus transition--the excitement of a new president."
Miller says he's "thrilled" that he'll be introducing President Richard H. Brodhead to alumni at the first three events in North Carolina. "He will enrich the undergraduate experience from day one, based on his career at Yale."
Since becoming DAA president in July, Miller has met with as many campus administrators as possible. "I wanted administrators to know that the DAA is poised to assist in helping to identify and accomplish all university goals and objectives," he says. "We want to be sitting at every table on campus where important decisions are being made. The DAA board can offer unique intellectual and perceptive viewpoints in university conversations, plus a good dose of plain common sense and historical context.
"We have a dedicated group of volunteers who are an immensely talented and powerful force in furthering the mission of Duke. We will be starting a strategic planning and visioning process at Alumni Affairs to identify the next bold steps that will take Duke and the alumni association to new levels of excellence."
Miller's message to alumni: "You're wasting an opportunity if you don't get involved. You'll reconnect with all the things that brought you to Duke as a student. The more interacting with Duke, the more rewarding. I found that I'm the better for it. Working on committees, talking to administrators, being a part of Career Week--I've taken so much away from those relationships, in my work and in my life."
November 30, 2004