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New multicultural center lobby named for groundbreaking faculty member

Advancement Campus Life Jun 28, 2024
A group picture in a lobby

This story is included in the spring/summer 2024 edition of Legacy magazine.

When IU Kokomo’s Multicultural Center (MCC) opens this fall in its newly renovated space, it will include photos and mementos from a beloved professor known for welcoming people of all backgrounds into his classroom, his home, and the Kokomo community.

Campus leaders dedicated the Dr. Herbert C. and Lillian M. Miller Lobby in the MCC this spring in a ceremony attended by Miller family members, university and community dignitaries, and friends, who remembered the couple’s legacy of inclusiveness. Miller, the campus’s first Black full-time faculty member, passed away April 2, 2023 after a brief illness. He was married to his high school sweetheart, Lillian (Fisher) Miller, for 56 years, until her passing in 2014.

A large portrait of Miller, professor emeritus, hangs in the lobby, and selections from the Dr. Herbert Miller Special Collection – souvenirs gifted to him by friends and colleagues around the world – are displayed, labeled with the country they represent and the individual who gave them to Miller.

Andréa Halpin, dean of students, said the campus is grateful for Miller’s longtime support of students and multiculturalism.

“He was very inclusive, always connecting folks,” she said, noting that his legacy will continue in the MCC’s work.

“This is going to be a space dedicated to our multicultural student centers,” she said. “They can call this space home. It’s a learning space for everyone.”

Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore shared memories of Miller, and his impact on the Kokomo community, while his nephew, Andre Vaughn, and niece, Norma Johnson, reflected on their family’s perspective on the importance of the MCC.

Miller earned a degree in European languages from Butler University, served in the U.S. Air Force, and then began graduate studies at IU. He joined the IU Kokomo faculty in 1960 and held many leadership positions over the years, including as acting chancellor. He taught multiple foreign languages (he learned nine) and international business classes.

Chancellor Mark Canada said naming the lobby for the Millers “honors their legacy of support for broadening students’ perspectives, particularly through awareness of other cultures.”

While Dr. Miller’s contributions are too numerous to list, Canada noted, he served as a highly visible advocate for students and international experiences.

“Dr. Herbert C. and Lillian M. Miller are precisely the kinds of individuals that IU wants to celebrate and honor,” he said. “Naming the lobby of the MCC at IU Kokomo is a fitting way to celebrate his legacy and keep his memory alive before students, faculty, staff, and community members, who stand to gain from his inspiration an example of support for students and global engagement.”

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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