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Interview with David K. Miller, July 18, 2002 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with David K. Miller, July 18, 2002
Date:
July 18, 2002
Description:
David Miller, Professor of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, discusses his history with UNCW. Dr. Miller came to Wilmington College in 1960 as a freshman. He was recruited by Coach Bill Brooks to play baseball. He was a member of the Wilmington College team when the team won the No. 1 spot in junior college baseball during his freshman year. During his sophomore year, the team was No. 2 nationwide. He graduated from the two-year college with an associate's degree and continued his education elsewhere. He returned to his alma mater as a teacher and assistant coach in 1965, and has held various roles in administration. For 15 years he was director of summer school. Dr. Miller has also been chair of HPER, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. In this interview, Dr. Miller discusses his time teaching at UNCW, his experience as a Wilmington College student-athlete, and his roles and experiences as an administrator and faculty member. He also discuses his belief in the important role of athletics in higher education.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Miller, David K. Interviewer: Lack, Adina Date of Interview: 7/18/2002 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 51 minutes

Lack: Good morning. My name is Adina Lack and I’m the UNCW archivist. I’m here in the conference room of Randall Library ready to proceed with an interview.

Lack: Can you please state your name.

Miller: Good morning. I’m David K. Miller, professor at UNCW.

Lack: We’ll be discussing Professor Miller’s career and his long affiliation with Wilmington College and UNCW. Could you tell me what brought you to Wilmington way back the first time you came?

Miller: It was way back. I started here as a student in 1960. I came here to junior college and actually came here to play baseball for Coach Bill Brooks. I played here two years and then transferred to Wake Forest.

Lack: There’s quite a history with the baseball team, isn’t there?

Miller: Unfortunately where I came from, I came from a small town and had never done much traveling, but we had two teams to go out to the National Junior College Tournament in Colorado both years, traveled by car, and my freshman year we won the tournament and my sophomore year, we were runner-up. That gave me an opportunity to see the country, which I had never done before.

Lack: That must have been a great experience.

Miller: Well it was. I won’t go into how we traveled. We didn't have the best accommodations when we traveled, but that was part of the experience as well, but we had fun. It was really nice.

Lack: So it wasn’t luxury, I guess.

Miller: Oh no, we traveled six to a car. Coach Brooks was limited in money so he planned the trip so that we’d be traveling all night one night, all day, all night, all day, to avoid the motel expense cause he didn't have the money. We’d rotate drivers, have six to a car. But, again, you look back on that experience, we had fun.

Lack: How did you manage to play so well?

Miller: Well we had a good team. On the way out, we’d stop, he planned it where he would contact some school or something where we could use their field. We’d stop and work out during the day. But we had some good players. It was a fun time.

Lack: So then you won.

Miller: Yes, we won the National Championship my freshman year and in my sophomore year, we came back and came in second place. We had two good years.

Lack: Was that a surprise or you knew you had a good team?

Miller: We knew we had a good team. Coach Brooks had been out there two previous years. He actually had a run of five years where he came in fourth or fifth, two consecutive years. Then we won it my freshman year, came in second my sophomore year, and then he took another team out there the following year and won it again. So, in a period of five years, he won it twice, came in second one time and fourth or fifth the other two years. So he had some good teams.

Lack: We were located on this campus?

Miller: No, in fact my freshman year, and that’s a fun time, we were in what was called the Isaac Bear Building on Market Street across from the high school. And then my sophomore year, we moved out to this campus and had three buildings, Hoggard Hall, Hinton James Building and the Alderman.

Lack: That was 1961?

Miller: Yeah, the library was in Alderman. The bookstore was in Hinton James, but I thought I moved to a big campus because when I started we were at the Isaac Bear Building.

Lack: That must have been exciting to actually get your own campus.

Miller: Oh it was fun, but there was something about the Isaac Bear Building. We had about 600 students and classes went from morning until the evening and it was an old building. In fact, I had never been to Wilmington when I came here as a student. Coach Brooks had talked to me about coming and I did it sight unseen. We drove into town, my brother brought me, we drove down Market Street looking for Wilmington Junior College. Didn't see it and stopped at a service station and I thought New Hanover High School might be it.

I asked was that it and he said no, that’s it and he pointed to the Isaac Bear Building. I was so disappointed because that was where I was going to start college. But it was a tremendous experience and I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for it.

Lack: The Isaac Bear Building, had it been a school before?

Miller: I think it had been and then they took it over in the late 40’s, the community did and started Wilmington Junior College.

Lack: And you’re from South Carolina?

Miller: Woodruff, South Carolina, a small community.

Lack: How did Bill Brooks come to recruit you?

Miller: A baseball scout, that’s how you recruit a lot of people. He would rely on baseball scouts for baseball and four-year colleges often would recommend basketball players, who didn't quite meet the admissions standards for their particular institution. So they’d come here and play for two years and then transfer to four-year schools. But I came from a family, we were very limited on funds. The Lord just looked after me.

I got this scholarship here and then it went to a scholarship at Wake Forest.

Lack: Wow, what position did you play?

Miller: I was an infielder, but shortstop here, and second base at Wake Forest.

Lack: Did you expect that you’d have the chance to play in college?

Miller: Well, at that time, colleges didn't give as much aid for baseball as they do now, nor did they scout as well as they do now. My dream was to play professional baseball. When that opportunity came to go to college, it was a blessing. Of course, that led to my coming back here to teach.

Lack: Great, if we can talk a little bit about that. You had the opportunity to go to Wake Forest University after this. What was that like?

Miller: Well, Wake fortunately is not a big school now and certainly was a little smaller then. There were only about 3000 undergraduates at Wake and I came from a small high school, so going to a small junior college and then to a small four-year institution fit right in with me. Wake has always had a great reputation as an academic institution and I enjoyed my experience there.

Played a year of professional baseball and worked toward my Master’s and then Coach Brooks talked to me about coming back here to teach. I came here in the fall of ’65 and I’ve been here ever since except for the time I went away to work on my doctorate.

Lack: What did you major in?

Miller: Physical Education, I was a Physical Education major and continued that in graduate school and came back here to teach in the Physical Education Department and worked as Coach Brooks’ assistant baseball coach. I did that for thirteen-years. Then I had the opportunity to go work on my doctorate. They had a program where the state and federal would match funds, federal government would match funds and help a person go work on their doctorate and I took advantage of that. I came back here after doing that.

Lack: Where did you work on your doctorate?

Miller: I went to Florida State.

Lack: What was that like, at the time? Was the department changing such that it…were more and more people coming on with doctorates?

Miller: No, at that time, I don’t remember as an institution how many people we had with a doctorate, but quite a few faculty members continued from junior college to the four-year so not many of them did have their doctorate initially. Certainly in the Physical Education Department, when I came here to teach, there were only three males and two females and Coach Brooks.

We shared offices. The three males were together in one office in Hanover Hall. We did not have Trask Coliseum at that time. None of us had our doctorate. Then it turned out actually that I was offered, after three years, the opportunity to go to Florida State with the money to go. So I went and started down there and it actually turned out that the other two people, the males, that were in the department at that time followed me, not at the same time, but one went later and then the third went later. All three of us wound up getting our doctorate at Florida State.

Lack: You set a precedent.

Miller: Yeah, we all were very fortunate in that we were given that opportunity.

Lack: Did the department, which is now Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, did it change its name over the years?

Miller: It was the Department of Physical Education and then it became the Department of Health and Physical Education. We didn't offer a major in health, but we had health courses and then Recreation was the last to be added and that’s when it became known as Health, Physical Education, and Recreation.

Lack: Was there a parks component at one point?

Miller: The major actually was Parks and Recreation, but for the name of the department, we just used Recreation. Now that major in Recreation, I think, they have over 200 majors.

Lack: It’s a huge department.

Miller: It is, counting Physical Education and Recreation there are over 400 majors in that department now. Physical Education in the beginning, you only could major in Physical Education through the Teacher Education Program. Now you can get teacher certified, exercise science, athletic training and generals, we call it, so there are several tracks in Physical Education.

Lack: Now there’s a Physical Education track and a Recreation.

Miller: And also you can be certified in Health Education.

Lack: And Recreation Therapy?

Miller: There are about three different tracks in Recreation, right? They scatter.

Lack: I think it’s real interesting that that’s such an important major. Do you think that it’s through academic recruiting that students hear about it?

Miller: Well, the university has such a good name and so when you have a good name then all students, who are interested in all types of majors, will consider it. Now like any Physical Education, Recreation major, you get students who may have not intended to major in that, but they come to the campus and they start exploring. Then they want to go into that area.

It used to be you would think that people that majored in Physical Education, all they wanted to do was teach and coach, but that’s far from the case now. We have more students majoring in Physical Education in other areas than the teaching track. We have some students that come here with the intent of going into that Physical Education, Recreation, but some after they get here, change over.

Lack: How did you like coaching? What was that experience like?

Miller: Well, baseball, I had the dream of playing professional baseball and/or coaching. When professional baseball didn't work out, then of course I went to coach. It’s great. You have rapport with the athletes that’s different than the rapport you have with students and that’s because you spend more time with them. You travel with them. So I enjoyed coaching.

It was just that, after I got my doctorate, they asked me to serve as chair of the department and it got to be such a conflict trying to do both, and so I made a professional choice that I would get out of coaching.

Lack: How long were you chair?

Miller: I served as chair of the department of HPR eight years and then I moved over into the dean’s office as an associate. From there, I went into the provost office as an associate.

Lack: Your associate dean of …

Miller: College of Arts and Sciences. I was Associate of Academic Affairs and served as enrollment manager for four years, and then I also served as director of summer school for 14-15 years.

Lack: You had your hands in administration as well?

Miller: Well, it’s been fun because oftentimes to change responsibilities, you must leave campus. You got to a different location. At times, it was almost like leaving campus because I would go into different responsibilities and that variety certainly was stimulating and interesting and exciting, frustrating at times. But again, any administration position can be that. It was fun to change to different responsibilities.

Lack: Who was the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences when you were there?

Miller: Dan Plyler. He was the dean and I was chair of department of HPR and then a position opened in his office and I applied for it and moved over there and worked with him, I cannot remember how many years. Then I moved over to the provost office and worked with Charles _____ for a number of years. I was in that office when Chancellor Leutze came here. He’s the one that asked me to serve as Enrollment Manager.

Lack: What were some of the changes that you observed on our campus with Dr. Leutze arriving or after he arrived?

Miller: In his approach and, I think, this is true of any new chancellor, he’s going to stimulate some changes. Of course, one of the changes was to upgrade the campus as far as its academic reputation. That meant better in some programs, that meant bringing in new faculty with better credentials. Not that we didn't have good faculty. If I could go back, I would have to say in the transition from junior college to four-year, the people who did the job in making that transition, most of them had no experience in four-year schools. Most of them, we had a few.

Yet, they did a tremendous job in planning, in organizing, in making the transition. Then people came on board, who had the experience to take us to another level. Chancellor Leutze was one of those people. He knew what it would take to become a quality four- year institution. We were on the road, but he knew there were certain things we had to do. He wouldn’t take no for an answer.

So he promoted and stimulated and forced, said, "I expect it," and the things were done. It’s through his leadership and I think he deserves a lot of credit for what’s taken place under his leadership because we did reach a new level.

Lack: Did you also get to know Chancellor Wagoner?

Miller: Yes, I knew him very well. Again, I think he did a tremendous job, but, at the time, he came here from public schools and he carried us to a certain point. And then another chancellor came in and took us on. He did a good job. He brought in some good people.

Lack: Different leaders always bring different things to the situation.

Miller: That’s it, that’s why change is good in leadership. People, not to say that there always has to be change, but change every so often with leadership will promote growth and development because people come in with different perspectives. That doesn’t mean you throw out everything that’s taken place. But a change can bring a different view of things and different perspective.

Lack: Because Dr. Wagoner had been there about 20 years.

Miller: Sometimes you reach a comfort level and sometimes that comfort level needs to be aroused and challenged. I believe in changing leadership, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you throw away everything that’s been done up to that point.

Lack: And I guess we’re experiencing some change now with our provost having left.

Miller: Exactly, it’s going to be interesting, it really is, to bring in a new chancellor and I assume a new provost from off campus.

Lack: Does Dr. Leutze have plans to leave?

Miller: Eventually. He’s been here ten-years. So you expect that the changes will come.

Lack: I’ve met John Cavanaugh, but he seems like he was really good.

Miller: He was, he was, but again only staying a little over two years it didn't give him the opportunity to really implement. He made changes, but I think to really put your name into some things, it takes more than the time he was here.

Lack: It seems like, in colleges nationwide, the trend is for shorter and shorter stays for that higher level.

Miller: Well, for people that really have that ambition and I think Dr. Cavanaugh truly wanted to be a president or a chancellor and so the opportunity came and he wasn’t going to pass it up, and I understand that.

Lack: Let’s go to your work with the summer school, how long were you director of the summer school?

Miller: About fifteen-years, I took over Jim Edmondson. Dr. Edmondson handled summer school or continuing education, as it was called at that time, and the provost decided he would like to have summer school directed out of his office and I took over at that time. I served in that capacity until this summer, which is my last summer.

Lack: How were the enrollment figures changing?

Miller: I would love to go back and look and see how many we had fifteen-years ago, but I would venture to guess fifteen-years ago, probably in the first session of summer school, which is typically your biggest, we probably had no more than 1500 students. In this first session this time, we have about 3500 students. In the second session, we have about 3000 students, so it’s more than doubled just like the enrollment of the institution.

Lack: Which has probably doubled.

Miller: I’m not sure what it was fifteen-years ago. I know when I started in ’65, we had less than 1000 students and now we have over 10,000.

Lack: As director of the summer school, were you also responsible for coordinating of the departments for teaching?

Miller: Right. I would work with the dean’s offices, they would work with the chairs and coordinate this budget for teaching and things like that.

Lack: How did you like that, administrative work? It sounds like you must have liked it.

Miller: I did. The summer school, the challenge there is to make sure you get the students to go to summer school because summer school is certainly not required and so the challenge is to get that enrollment there because summer school is almost like a private institution. You receive very little money from the state for summer school so you must support summer school out of the tuition.

You’ve got to do things to try to make sure students are there. That’s the real challenge.

The challenge of working with the deans and having the correct classes scheduled so you work together to get that done. You must make sure the students are there. So that was the primary challenge of summer school.

Lack: Are a number of students, who are enrolled in summer school, not UNCW students?

Miller: Approximately 10% of the students who attend summer school are visiting students. They’re from other campuses. Now, many of those, are students who live in this area, but we get some others who come here because they want to attend class on the coast. As long as they do the job in the classroom, that’s fine. So about 10%, and then, of course, we’ll get transfers, who start in the summer and so on. You need those other students in addition to your own students.

Lack: I also work on the reference desk besides being the archivist and I have met students who are from North Carolina State or wherever and they just wanted to live here and take summer school classes and if it transfers to their institution, then they’re good.

Miller: And that’s what most of them do. They’ll check and make sure. We probably, at one time, I could have told you the exact number, but it’s at least fifty institutions which are represented during summer school other than UNCW.

Lack: I suppose there’s a certain amount of nursing budget and financial matters you have to take care of when you direct summer school.

Miller: Right, exactly. We provide some money for the departments in terms of money to purchase supplies and things like that. But most of the budget goes towards teaching salaries and fringe benefits.

Lack: Did you ever teach in summer school when you directed?

Miller: Not when I directed it. Before I became director, I did. In fact, I had the opportunity to go to Chapel Hill and teach in summer school up there. Summer school is pretty much the same everywhere. You meet those students every day and it’s an intense time because most summer schools last, sessions last no more than five weeks.

Lack: It’s concentrated. I know in graduate school I did my graduate degree in library science at Chapel Hill and one summer session I took two classes and it was tough. In another summer school I worked twenty hours a week and took one class.

Miller: Some students like the day-to-day contact and some students should not take more than one class. I’ve had students though who have had three classes in one session and they’re going to do nothing but go to class and study. That’s all they’re going to do.

Lack: Exactly.

Miller: But it takes an exceptional student. I wouldn’t recommend that for anyone, but many students can handle two classes as long as they’re not lab classes because if you have a class with a lab, you’re going to be in lab several hours during the week, also. Many students can handle two classes.

Lack: Are a lot of the summer school students, even the students in your department, have you noticed a lot of nontraditional students?

Miller: That is a change in the last ten-years. There’s a lot of changes taking place, but I think probably even less than ten. In the last five or six years, the number of older students that we’re seeing has increased dramatically. I think a lot of it is people changing careers. A lot of people regret that they didn't complete their degree in going back, whether they’re going to change careers or not. The increase in the number of older students, and it’s been good because they can challenge the younger students. They also can talk about reality because many times when you’re eighteen to twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, you really don’t have a picture of what reality is all about after college. So that mixture, I think, is good.

Lack: I think so often they’re such good students that they’re really a role model.

Miller: And I have not seen any stats on this, but I think I’d be safe in saying this, the percentage of nontraditional students, who are successful in the classroom, compared with the eighteen to twenty-two, I’m sure the nontraditional student is a much higher percentage because they know what they want. They know absolutely why they’re there and they’re going to be successful. So, yes, I think it’s great.

Lack: I certainly have observed that as well. I suppose you’ve probably seen that in your department.

Miller: Oh yeah, I can see it. In the classes I teach, I will see that.

Lack: What have been your teaching interests and research interests over the years?

Miller: Primarily, for the past number of years, measure course to the Physical Education majors and then I was teaching Anatomy and Physiology, but measurement is where I’ve been in the most and the longest.

Lack: What is that?

Miller: Well, we actually have a part of where we get into elementary statistics, but then we get into various tests in the field and the use of those tests. We get into test construction. Primarily, it’s preparing them to go out and do measurement in the field of Physical Education, when to do it, how to do it, why to do it.

You have to select the appropriate tests because quite often we think of Physical Education tests in just being sports skills, but it’s not that at all. There are a lot of things you can measure when working with people, as far as physical components. So they’re exposed to the various tests and how to administer those tests and the correct way to do it. The statistics part is the toughest part for them. We generally spend six or seven weeks on that part.

Lack: You have various tests and how to do research.

Miller: Well it’s not primarily a research class, but it does prepare them to read the literature. Now we offer a class in research methodology where this part they’ve had in statistics will help them, but my class is primarily to prepare them to do better in the field and to develop as a professional.

Lack: During your time here, have you noticed more of an emphasis on research?

Miller: Oh yes.

Lack: I guess a requirement, if you don’t research…

Miller: Exactly, and that’s true of undergraduates as well as faculty. When I first started, you certainly were expected as a faculty member to do things to better prepare yourself to be a professional, to teach. Part of that is research, but the expectations were not as high. You could move through the ranks from instructor or assistant professor to full professor.

You still had to do research, but not to the extent that you have to do now. Faculty coming in, the expectations are very high and that’s because of the institution itself, how it’s improved in quality and standards. But that’s also been passed on to the students. We expect more of them, which is good. Not that the program…the program was demanding of students, but now as we get better students, as we have better faculty, we expect more of the students and that’s good.

It’s rare for most students to graduate from this institution without having done some research or be associated with a faculty member who’s doing research. So that better prepares them to go out into the field.

Lack: To better understand what it’s all about. I can imagine that. One of the things that we do in archives is an attempt to collect all the research articles written by faculty and of course it’s a daunting task and it’s just grown in the amount of publications. The number of publications produced by faculty has just grown expeditiously, but it is interesting to see the kind of places that people are publishing in the earlier days compared to now where they’re producing much more, in all departments, national publications and things like that.

Miller: Right, exactly, more prestigious journals, more peer review journals where before you get something and publish, like in a teaching journal, something like that. I’m not saying that’s not good. I’m just saying now you find publishing in journals that are published internationally.

Lack: It’s a different emphasis.

Miller: It is and like you said, a number of publications.

Lack: Were you on any committees to hire new faculty over the years?

Miller: That’s an interesting question. I actually was on the committee that Charles Cahill was brought in.

Lack: And you ended up working for him.

Miller: Yeah, but it was a number of years later, believe me. Then of course I served, I chaired, the search committee that brought in our current athletic director. I served on numerous committees in terms of searching for faculty or new leaders.

Lack: Well it must be nice when you select somebody to see them still be here.

Miller: Oh, I’ll say. Because you think you know people, but you really don’t know them through the interview process in asking people about themselves. You really don’t get to know them until they come and they’re part of this community. Yes, it is very satisfying to see people come in and succeed and do a good job.

Lack: How do you feel about the job that Peg______ is doing?

Miller: Well, listen, because I’m in Physical Education, have a coaching background, and I know the coaches, I know what they think of her. They all are tremendously pleased with the job she’s doing. They respect the job she’s doing and I know what kind of reputation she has out in the community. Yes, I’m very pleased.

Lack: We’re lucky to have her.

Miller: Oh, yeah. That really, turns out, was an easy selection from the standpoint of committee. We had such agreement, on the committee, that she was our top choice and then the chancellor felt the same way after he met her. So even though we had good candidates and we did, we had candidates from Vanderbilt, North Carolina State, we had good candidates, but we all agreed on her. So that part was easy.

Lack: Gosh, she’s been quoted in the paper, other people too. She’s in the paper all the time, but I was reading about the whole Title 9, and that’s really interesting. I had no idea it was so involved.

Miller: The Athletic Department is currently going through the certification process again with the NCAA and that gender equity will be the biggest issue. In terms of other things, they’ll pass with flying colors, but the biggest discussion, and they’re doing a good job, but gender equity, I think, nationwide is the biggest issue.

Lack: Yeah, it was so interesting. I had no idea it was such a big issue that so many women did participate in these sports. I mean it’s just great. I wasn’t really encouraged in my family. We did dance and we did things more traditional for girls. My mother, you know, I just didn't think about it.

Miller: Well, if we believe in athletics, which I do, and what they promote and what they do for the individual who participates, we should support that they’re going to do the same thing for the female and give them an opportunity. It’s just that we males are very protective. We don’t want to lose something we’ve controlled for so long. But I don’t think there are many people out there who aren’t very supportive of what’s taking place nationwide. It’s just having the resources, the funds to support, it that limits many schools.

Lack: Because you have to sometimes take from…

Miller: If you only have so much and you start to divide it up, that means you can’t give as much to the males and so we get defensive about that. But if we believe in athletics, then we should be supportive and offer it to anybody.

Lack: Yeah, and I guess that’s what you have to say, it’s beneficial to everyone. I guess the goal of Title 9 is that we should represent the proportion?

Miller: That’s the primary way to look at it, the enrollment of the institution. That’s really what makes it tough here. Institutions, which are close to 50/50, it’s not as much of a problem, but like here, it’s 60/40. So that means you should be putting 60% of your budget in women’s athletics. I don’t think our department is quite there, but they have made tremendous improvement.

Lack: Yes, it seems like it. They’re not quite there, but they're among the best in the conference, I think at the top. I was thinking, do the coaches and athletic directors ever go over to admissions and say why don’t you admit more men?

Miller: They really don’t. I’ve served on the admissions appeal committee, so I know they don’t do that, but I know this…that, if all of a sudden it got closer, say 55/45, it would make their life easier. It’s just with 60/40, trying to match that makes it tough. But nationwide, we have more females than males in college.

Lack: That’s probably due to a number of reasons, but the same thing…it’s all about money, too. To attract more men, we would need more money for departments like engineering that happen to enroll…so it’s all about money. It’s not an easy situation. The benefits of teams, you know. It’s interesting, some people speculate the reason why there’s so many women in college now is because of opportunities for athletics and scholarships.

Miller: I don’t know. I think you can certainly say that a good athletic program can help in your recruiting students. I firmly believe that and there’s some women just like males who will choose an institution because of an athletic program. I don’t know if that’s the primary reason.

There’s just various reasons there’s more women who choose to go into higher education. There are also more women who are meeting admission standards. There may be more males out there that would like to go, they just don’t meet the admissions standards. I firmly believe in the role of athletics. I took part in athletics and I know what it did for me. So I firmly believe there’s a place for athletics in higher education.

Lack: What are some of the benefits, do you think for people in higher education in athletics?

Miller: It actually provided me an education, which I would not have had if it were not for athletics. I say would not have had, I certainly wouldn’t have headed in the way that I did, so it provided me that opportunity. It provided me an opportunity to grow and develop in many ways other than athletic ability that I probably would not have had. It provided me with the opportunity to travel and see various things.

Then just on developing as an individual, the things that you get in athletics, competition is good. I don’t mean to say that you must always win and life is going to come to an end if you don’t win. I don’t mean that at all, but competition helps you grow and develop. So there are a lot of things it did for me, and I think it can do the same thing for other people. I’m all for as many people as possible taking part in that.

I think what gives athletics a bad name sometimes is some athletes and coaches don’t appreciate the opportunity they have. They take too much for granted.

Lack: I think the travel is really an interesting part because it can broaden students and make them less provincial and less willing to sit at home and play computer games or whatever they might do because they know there are other things to do.

Miller: The self-discipline. There are a lot of athletes if it were not for taking part in an athletic program they would not continue college because of the discipline that is imposed upon them. Some people would say, "yeah, but they’ve got to assume some responsibility." A lot of eighteen-year-olds are not ready to assume that responsibility. That’s why a lot of students don’t succeed in college.

You come as an athlete, those coaches are really riding hard on you, until you reach that level that you’re comfortable and you can assume a certain amount of responsibilities on your own. They’re helping you in the transition. So I think many of them would not succeed if they were not coming as an athlete.

Lack: I’m wondering if you can talk about some of the people that you came across in your years. You mentioned a couple already, but who has been sort of influential in your department or throughout the university?

Miller: Okay, well first of all, Bill Brooks. I came to him as an athlete and then him encouraging me to come back here. If it were not for him, I feel sure I would not be here now so I’m tremendously indebted to him. And I learned from him. He’s a very patient man. He treats people with respect. He treated athletes with respect. He treated us as individuals, yet we were part of a team. The man got more out of a dollar than any human being can do.

He did not have much money at all and he ran the program on a very limited budget. At the time as an athlete, I didn't appreciate it as much, talking about riding cross country six to a car, complaining, groaning, moaning, but, at the time, we didn't realize just how little money he did have. Coming back here as a teaching coach, I became aware of that. I’m tremendously indebted to him.

Then there are people who gave me the opportunity, and I’m thinking of Dan Plyler, Charles Cahill, and Dr. Leutze gave me an opportunity that I’m grateful for. They could have chosen someone else, but they chose me and gave me the opportunity and I was able to learn from them. I think that helped me grow as an individual.

There are others that I worked with, but I think those are the ones who had more influence on my life here at UNCW.

Lack: Certainly a very influential group of people. Before I got here, my predecessor interviewed Bill Brooks for our world history program and we still have maybe, we have a long way to go. We’ve talked to maybe fifteen to twenty people. So can you think of some people you’d recommend for us to talk to.

Miller: I don’t know who you’ve talked to. You may have talked to Marshall Cruz and Dorothy Marshall, a lot of them that I know. I know you’ve talked to Norm Kaylor. Have you talked to Dan Plyler?

Lack: No, we do have plans to do that.

Miller: You certainly should talk to him, Charles Cahill, Carol Ellis. There are people who taught in the junior college and taught at the four-year college, who are no longer here, Frank Allen and Walter Biggs taught in the Department of Biology. They actually taught me in junior college.

Lack: They would be great to talk to. They don’t live in Wilmington anymore?

Miller: Yeah, they’re both here in Wilmington. They’re members of the Isaac Bear Society, but both of them taught junior college and then continued to teach here at the four-year institution, for a number of years. Walter Biggs, I think, retired six or seven years ago so he’s been here a long time. They would be interesting. I’m trying to think who else would be good. The Isaac Bear group has people who’ve been here quite a number of years and I would suggest that you get, and I can find that for you, a list of the membership.

Lack: That would be good. I have talked to some of them, but I don’t know if I have an exact list.

Miller: I can give you an exact list of the membership.

Lack: Oh, that would be great.

Miller: All those people, most all those people were here a long time. I can tell you one individual who has not been here as long as they have, but who knows the history of this institution and that’s Tyrell in advancement. He has kept up with things and he could share some things with you, but I’ll give you that list.

Lack: That would be very helpful. It’s just good to get their stories as well as your story about what things were like then. Just things like even when you were a student and driving across country six to a car. That’s something that would not happen today.

Miller: No, athletes would revolt. You would read about it in the paper where they were revolting about being treated in a way that they shouldn’t be treated, but as I said we didn't know any better and we had fun with it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Lack: I suppose you follow UNCW baseball now?

Miller: Oh yeah, pretty much all the athletic programs because there’re people like David Allen. When David came here as swimming coach, he’s been here twenty-five-years, I was chair of the department. Coach Brooks and I were the two primary people in recruiting him and actually I remember having David in my home. Back then we didn't get money to bring people in for meals and things like that so most of the time we’d have them to our home.

I remember sitting around the table with David. He’s one that has been here for a number of years that I look back and think that was certainly a good choice that we brought him in. It’s been an interesting career here. I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for it and it’s been good to me, very good.

Lack: Sounds like it. The baseball team has been doing very well, hasn’t it?

Miller: Well the baseball team, people expect it to be a constant winner as far as first or second place and the team does well. They still have not made it to the NCAA playoffs and that’s going to be an exciting time when they have. When we made the transition, when I came back here as teaching coach, the transition had already been made to a four-year institution.

We were a member of what’s called the NAIA, that’s another athletic association. We actually made it to the final eight of the nation one year, went out to, I think, it was in Kansas, to take part in that. So baseball does have a good history. The baseball team is successful, but people, they just want to get to the NCAA playoffs. That’s going to happen.

Lack: It seems like with the baseball season, you know, it’s later in the year, is there quite a bit of student support for it?

Miller: Yeah, community support too. This is a baseball community, as far as high school and college baseball. If you don’t mind, I’d like to share with you about that too. When I was in junior college my first year, we played out at Legion Stadium. When we came out here my sophomore year, we were the first group to play on what’s now called Brooks Field. Coach Brooks personally used bulldozer cleaning up hill, got the athletes to help and we played on that the first year and it wasn’t in ideal conditions.

It was very soft and all, but we played on it. That was in the spring of ’62. To see what changes that has undergone through the years because we didn't have dugouts, we just sat on benches on the field. And now, with the dugouts, the seating facilities and so on and to see the changes that that has undergone is interesting too. That was in stages, but it is a first class facility now. We played on it in ’62. Nobody could have imagined what it would be like now.

Lack: That is a good story. On the one hand, you’re coming onto campus, but it’s not.

Miller: Right, exactly, it’s still in the developing stage. But that field was so soft in terms of the sand and everything. Coach Brooks worked hard to get it developed and he depended on people loaning him equipment and money or giving him money to do it.

Lack: They, everything, I guess, added the Green track.

Miller: Yeah, the track, I cannot remember the year, but the Greens gave us a donation for that. And, of course, the soccer field, that came along. We have great facilities in athletics just like we have nice academic facilities. The athletic program now…in terms of facilities for the conference we’re in, we have great facilities. They still need more money for scholarships and things like that.

Lack: I suppose the men’s basketball also provides a lot of excitement for around here.

Miller: That is the number one sport, it really is, and rightfully so because the community will get more excited about that. If it succeeds, it helps bring in money for other programs because people give to the Seahawk Club primarily because of basketball, certainly not the only reason, but primarily because they want to see basketball do well, but then that helps the other programs as well.

Lack: It does provide a lot of excitement around here.

Miller: Well, I think this past year counting season ticket holders we had over 5000 or so average attendance, which is fantastic.

Lack: Some people never went to UNCW and their children never went here, but they still support it. What are your plans now? You’re still going to be part-time in your department?

Miller: Yeah, in the Department of HPR, I will teach two classes a term. It’s what’s called phase retirement. It’s a super deal. You get to draw half your salary in full retirement and teach two classes a term for a guaranty of three years. So I plan to do that and then see, by the time those three years are up, I hope I have in mind what to do after that. Right now, I’m looking forward to the teaching.

Lack: That is a nice deal.

Miller: It’s a great deal. People have told me, who are already in it, that it’s a great life, no meetings, don’t have to go to any meetings. Just teach the classes.

Lack: That’ll be a change. What will you be teaching?

Miller: I’ll be teaching my measurement class and Anatomy and Physiology, teach both those classes each term.

Lack: That’s good and people can still have you around and rely on you as a resource.

Miller: Well if they want me around, but I’m looking forward to it.

Lack: I really appreciate your coming in.

Miller: It’s been fun and I enjoyed it. It’s always fun to reminisce.

Lack: Yes, and it’s so important for us to hear about things, hear about dates, and what actually happened and not just some kind of obscure printed-down fact, but from someone who was there.

Miller: Thank you for asking me.

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