UNCW Chancellor Gary Miller is leaving Seahawk Nation and is heading to Green Bay. The University of Wisconsin Green Bay's Board of Regents announced Monday Miller will be their new chancellor.
Miller will start his new position with the University of Wisconsin Green Bay August 1, 2014, replacing Tom Harden who announced in December he was stepping down.
Linda Upperman Smith, a former member of the Board of Trustees and a supporter of Chancellor Miller, was saddened when she heard the news.
"I'm sad, disappointed but not surprised," said Smith. "I think working with this board was going to be difficult for him. A chancellor needs the support of their board to be able to accomplish anything."
"I wish Chancellor Miller only the best in his new endeavor," said Board of Trustee Dennis Burgard, who joined the board last year.
Miller's job search has been a topic of conversation in southeastern North Carolina for much of this month. Over the last several weeks, Miller has been named a finalist for leadership positions at universities in New York, Ohio and Wisconsin. The job at Youngstown State went to another candidate and Miller withdrew his name for consideration for the Buffalo State job.
Throughout the entire process, Miller didn't speak to the media about the reasons for his job search until now. The chancellor sat down with WECT's Frances Weller after the news of his departure was announced.
When asked why he decided to look elsewhere, Miller avoided the question by listing some of his accomplishments while serving as chancellor for UNCW.
"We accomplished a great deal. The things we accomplished over three years at a time of budget retraction in the state - new CIE, new organized CREST campus, revitalized MARBONIC a new public private partnership in nursing - we funded the applied learning program that faculty created, created an accreditation, with no comments," Miller answered.
When asked again why he was leaving, Miller responded simply, "we're ready to go on to Green Bay."
"This move is a great opportunity for me to make a different kind of contribution," Miller went on to say. "I'm excited.
In previous investigative reports, WECT revealed rifts between the chancellor and the UNCW Board of Trustees over decisions involving athletics, a lawsuit against the university and the handling of the suspension of a fraternity on campus.
Frances Weller asked Miller if any of these rifts had anything to do with his decision to leave.
"I'm humbled for the support we have here," said Miller. "I've had hundreds of thousands of conversations about my career, I think they understand. There are many reasons for people like me to leave. In this case, I think it's a great place for me to continue to make and contribute in a very transformative time. There is no one reason that anyone would leave a position like this. Of course, I had many conversations with my boss and the members of the board as we thought through this process so, um, your right."
Miller said he would acknowledge there are members of the board who are members of the suspended fraternity, but added "that is not the single reason we're looking to leave. There are lots of different reasons, most of which, I know is not news, the vast majority of which is where I can make a contribution at this time in American higher education."
UNC System President Thomas Ross chose not to comment during Miller's job search, other than calling it "personnel," but issued the following statement after Miller announced he was leaving.
Gary Miller inherited a strong, highly respected institution, and as chancellor he has worked diligently to position UNC Wilmington for even greater success in the years ahead. Under his leadership, UNCW has continued to raise academic expectations and to act as a catalyst for economic development, regional collaboration, and community problem-solving. During his tenure, the campus has launched the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, opened the MARBIONC center, and strengthened partnerships within the surrounding community. And despite a very tough economic climate, UNCW recently received a rare "positive" outlook from Moody's Investor Services because of sustained enrollment growth and favorable operating performance.
I will be working closely with Chancellor Miller to ensure a smooth transition as I identify an appropriate interim chancellor. I also will be consulting with Board of Trustees Chair Wendy Murphy about launching a search for a permanent successor at the appropriate time.
Miller released the following statement shortly after the announcement was made:
I have been honored to work with an extraordinary team of faculty, staff, and campus leaders at UNCW. Together we have accomplished so much, and I know they will continue to provide a world-class academic experience for UNCW's students. The opportunity at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is an extremely exciting one that will allow me to continue to make an impact in higher education, through Green Bay's commitment to innovation, access to education for all, community partnerships and economic engagement. The UW system is one of the finest in the country and I am eager to dive in and discover how I can support the mission and tradition of excellence at Green Bay. Georgia and I have enjoyed our time in Wilmington and are grateful for the support of this community, and for the friendships we have formed both on- and off-campus. We are excited to join the Green Bay community after meeting such warm and welcoming people during our visits. I will be leaving UNCW in excellent hands, including those of a top-notch leadership team.
According to 2013 financial records, Harden earned just over $218,000 at Wisconsin Green Bay. Gary Miller was paid $280,500 at UNCW for the same year. Miller will now earn about $230,000 in the new position.
"Dr. Miller is a very impressive educational leader, and he is clearly enthusiastic about UW-Green Bay and all of its strengths and potential," said UW System President Ray Cross in a press release. "His outstanding record of university leadership and his vision for quality higher education will be significant contributions to the university's success in a complex and changing world. I am confident Dr. Miller has the vision, talent and experience to guide UW-Green Bay as it enters a new era."
Miller was one of five finalists for the position with the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. He will be the university's sixth chancellor.
He was also a finalist at two other institutions - Youngstown State University in Ohio and Buffalo State in New York. Miller withdrew his name for consideration for the Buffalo State position last week.
Miller was named the fourth chancellor of UNCW in July of 2011 and was officially installed in April 2012.
Miller will continue to lead UNCW through July 31, 2014.
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