Posted December 07, 2013

Posted December 7, 2013

The Society received sad news that Dr. James L. “Jerry” Miller, Ph.D. passed away on December 5, 2013. Jerry Miller was a member of the Wagner Society for many years and also served on the Board of Directors as Treasurer. Those who knew Jerry were impressed by his kindness, warmth, generosity and tremendous enthusiasm for Richard Wagner. Miller made several trips to Bayreuth and other cities and countries as well to hear Wagner’s works performed.

His family asked that we publish his obituary.


Monday, December 16, 1927 – Monday, November 4. 2013

Born: Toledo, Ohio      Died: Concord, California

Parents: James L. Miller, Sr. and Marjorie Cleveland Miller

Siblings: Constance Zimmermann and brother-in-law Richard Zimmermann, and Vivian Parrott and brother-in-law Dennis Parrott.

Marriage: December 16, 1955 in Nashville, TN, to Charlavine Butler (Cherry) of Bowling Green, Kentucky (deceased)

Children: Carolyn Klipin-Miller, Teresa Gayle Miller, Marjorie Cleveland Miller, Elizabeth Anne Miller-Bornemann

Grandchildren: Caren Lilian Holmes, Keith Bornemann, Jr., Charles Bornemann

Great Grandchildren: Madison Lily Holmes

Jerry served in the Air Force during the Korean War, 1950-1953, as a 1st Lieutenant.

Dr. Miller received his B.A. degree from the University of Florida in 1949 where he was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, Delta Zeta chapter.  He received his M.A. degree from University of Alabama in 1958; and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Michigan in 1963.

From 1966-1991 (25 years), Jerry was an active faculty member at the University of Michigan as a Professor of Higher Education and Professor Emeritus of Higher Education.  He joined the faculty of University of Michigan in 1966 as professor of higher education and the first Director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education.  His career prior to that included positions with Kentucky Department of Finance, the Kentucky Council on Public Higher Education, the Georgia Governor’s Commission to Improve Education, and the Southern Regional Education Board.  This experience familiarized him with the practical world of governors, legislators, and other higher education policy makers, and he maintained these ties in his later academic work.

Professor Miller’s career, which focused on public policy in higher education, reflected his capacity for integrating the practical, political, and academic aspects of postsecondary education.  His research and publications helped shape our understanding of state financing for higher education; of the pattern of state coordination, and planning for higher education; of policy issues affecting higher education; and the impact of public policy on institutional governance.  Among his numerous publications, his book, State Budgeting for Higher Education: The Use of Formulas and Cost Analysis, is considered a classic in state financing higher education.  Dr. Miller served on many national task forces and commissions, and consulted for states, institutions, and policy makers nationwide. He served in leadership roles on the American Council on Education, the Education Commission of the States, and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, and also served as President of both the American Association of Higher Education and the Society for the Study of Higher Education (later the Association for the Study of Higher Education).Professor Miller’s classes on state and national issues in higher education were a centerpiece of many graduate students’ experience, and many of his doctoral students went on to significant policy leadership roles. To his faculty colleagues, he was a thoughtful source of intellectual insight and practical wisdom, and always an effective collaborator.

After his retirement in 1990 to care for his wife, they moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Walnut Creek, California.

He remained very active in retirement, with camellia variety cultivation in his Walnut Creek garden, the Friends of the Library in Walnut Creek, as Treasurer of his homeowner’s association for Northgate in Walnut Creek and The Library Foundation. He was instrumental in the fundraising and the political campaign that eventually led to the   building of the Walnut Creek Main Library which is now the centerpiece of the county library system. He funded the front desk area of the Ygnacio Valley Library in memory and honor of his beloved wife, Cherry.  His passion for and academic knowledge of operatic music, and in particular, Richard Wagner, led him to involvement with the Wagner Society of Northern California. He attended performances throughout the United States and traveled as far as Bayreuth, Germany for performances of The Ring Cycle.

One of his favorite composers was Richard Strauss, and the last four songs written as a group constitute a statement about the acceptance of quiet and peaceful death after a long and full life. His family will play these songs as a tribute to Jerry’s intellect, dignity and exceptionally kind soul during his private memorial in early 2014.

Dr. Miller actively supported research for Alzheimer’s disease research.  Kindly consider making Memorial Contributions in his honor to the Brain Support Network,  or Hospice of the East Bay,