March 10, 2006

Prof. Miller, 84, Dies

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Professor and unofficial poet laureate. Dedicated volunteer and WWII veteran. Prof. Emeritus Frank B. Miller, Jr., who was all these and more, died Thursday, March 2 at the Cayuga Medical Center. He was 84.

“Frank Miller will be sorely missed and long remembered for his clever wit and generous spirit,” wrote Prof. Harry Katz, dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, in an e-mail to The Sun.

Miller held a faculty position in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations for 31 years, from 1954 to 1985. In his time at Cornell Miller chaired the Organizational Behavior department and worked as director of ILR’s Office of Resident Instruction.

According to Prof. Lee Dyer, human resource studies, Miller “did two stints as director of the School’s Office of Student Services,” and took the position on “not because of his love of administration, but because of its importance to the lives of our students.”

In addition to his administrative duties, Miller designed the first course in ILR on women in the workplace. He co-taught it with Prof. Emerita Alice Cook.

Dyer described Miller as “incredibly dedicated to students” and someone who “probably spent more time preparing for classes and more time in informal sessions with students than anyone [he] has ever known.”

Miller traveled avidly while on sabbatical, lecturing to students in Monterrey, Vancouver and London. His lectures at Istanbul University were translated into Turkish and used as a textbook for a personnel studies course.

According to Dyer, Miller counseled not only students but colleagues as well, acting as the “‘father confessor’ of the department … the go-to guy if you had a vexing problem.”

Beyond his academic duties, Miller expressed his creative spirit in his unofficial role as the ILR poet laureate. According to Chris Crooker, executive director of ILR alumni affairs and development, Miller most recently composed verse for ILR Dean Ed Lawler’s retirement last May.

“When I was promoted to full professor, he wrote an allegory summing up my career to a point that was so clever, eloquent and touching that I had it framed and have it prominently displayed on my office wall to this day, some twenty years later,” Dyer said on Miller’s talent. “I’m not sure if any of his poetry was ever published, but it surely could have been.”

As a Prof. Emeritus, Miller served as an officer of the Cornell Retirees Association and the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti. He also actively volunteered with organizations in the Ithaca community.

“He was a volunteer at Cayuga Medical Center and he visited any Cornell faculty member, staff, student, or family member of any of them who was a patient at the hospital,” said Prof. Ronald Ehrenberg, labor economics. “I can tell you from personal experience that having a friendly face around to lend support when a family member is in the hospital is extremely important and I treasure his having played this role greatly – Frank was a people person.”

Miller is survived by his wife, Charlene Welsh, and four children. Today at 2:00 p.m. in Anabel Taylor Hall a memorial mass will be held for Miller.

Archived article by Jessica DiNapoli
Sun Staff Writer