Virginia State University’s New President Settles In
Dr. Keith Miller is the new President of Virginia State University. In barely 90 days at the helm, he’s working to get to know area community and business leaders.
Dr. Miller is already working to forge partnerships between the university and area businesses and with the community.
Miller: We look to get students into environments in which they can take some of the theory that they've learned and put some of that theory to practical use. And, to the extent that we can allow some of our students to practice what they've learned in a real environment, in a controlled situation before they graduate, hopefully, will make them a better citizen, will make them a better employee once they do graduate.
He said he would like VSU to become a model for effective and vital partnerships. Dr. Miller’s reception by business leaders in the tri-cities has been positive. He expects continued growth at The Reginald F. Lewis School of Business. A recent agreement with Flat World Knowledge has VSU in the forefront nationally in the use of virtual textbooks, saving business students hundreds of dollars.
Miller: We're excited about that. And, certainly, it's something that is near and dear to the hearts of many who have paid for the books of their children or their own books. And, hopefully we can set the tone and continue to be on the leading edge in helping out students in that way.
Miller said he’s been impressed by the passion of VSU’s faculty and staff and the energy of the place.
Miller: The real strong point is that there are people, both inside the university and outside the university, that are very interested in moving the university ahead, whatever that means. Doing things well and becoming known as a perennial high-quality university in higher education, I think, that's a key strength. And, what makes it key to me is that people are interested in change, even if the change involves themselves and what they do and how things are done.
He’s discovered that students at Virginia State are attracted by the environment on campus as much as anything else.
Miller: The faculty relationships with students. We're still a relatively small institution with a little over five thousand students. So when you compare us to some of the larger schools, there's much more of an opportunity for students to develop personal relationships with faculty and staff.
Each day, Dr. Miller said, he learns a little more about what makes Virginia State University tick. His meetings with faculty and staff, he says, have been positive.
Miller: Did a survey with the help of Tom Reid and the Transition Committee that was designed to really ask questions about what the strengths and weaknesses of the university are and, perhaps, what some of our priorities should be. Just to get some input from a variety of individuals with different perspectives, internal and external, of the institution.
The survey found that they feel good about their colleagues, about the faculty, and about the staff. There is excitement about the direction of development at VSU. And as the school year begins, and Dr. Miller settles in, he’s also keeping an eye on marketing VSU both in the region and nationally so it won’t be, he said, “so much a well kept secret.”
Miller: It's a great time to be at Virginia State. People are open, people are excited and the students are an integral part of what we do and our growth.