ROE R. Cross Distinguished Professor
2001 - Marie Miller
An unknown author once wrote, “Life is like a piano … what you get out of it depends on how you play it.”
Dr. Marie Miller, a music professor and administrator at Emporia State University plays both the piano and life with finesse. The result has been a concert of performance, leadership, and teaching.
“During her time at Emporia State,” says former provost Tes Mehring, “Dr. Miller has demonstrated robust leadership skills serving as chair of the Department of Music and interim chair for two additional departments in Liberal Arts and Sciences.”
Since that comment was made, Miller, who arrived at Emporia State in 1990, added dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Science to her repertoire in 2011.
Miller earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, Wisc., a master’s degree in music from Northwestern University, and a doctorate in music education from Florida State University.
She taught vocal and general music in classrooms in Antigo and Green Bay, Wisc., before moving to higher education, serving as an assistant professor of music at Silver Lake College and Southeast Missouri State University.
“Marie’s teaching is the standard by which I measure my own skills,” says one colleague in the Roe R. Cross nomination. “I have rarely met an individual with her organizational ability. This is coupled with an understanding of her area that goes beyond thorough. The students in her classes consistently cite her as one of the finest teachers they have the pleasure to work with at ESU … One could simply not find a finer teacher than Marie.”
“The process of learning is very individual,” says Miller, “encompassing the broad range of the student’s background, interests, and passions. As an effective teacher, I organize the subject matter and present it in ways that will speak to the student, address his or her needs and interests, and pique curiosity. Ultimately, as a teacher, I strive to communicate my passion and love for music education in order to guide the student to continue to be a life-long learner.”
Rarely is she more at home, though, than when she is at the piano, commanding the keys with the smoothness of a true master.
“Her skills as a pianist are simply outstanding,” says another colleague. “I have worked with her on countless occasions and am always challenged to perform at the highest possible level. Marie never performs less than brilliantly.”
Along with her university responsibilities, Miller is active as a member of the Americus City Council, serves on a number of community, area, and state boards, and as a volunteer for Hand-In-Hand Hospice, Emporia. Ever a student, she is currently learning how to play bluegrass banjo.
Miller announced in December of 2013 her plans to retire in June 2014.