Mere days after James Clements was named West Virginia Universitys 23rd president, he met with Northern Kentucky President James Votruba. Votruba told Clements that one of his own mentors, a wise man and a great leader, also once held the highest office at WVU .
That man was Paul Miller.
So when Clements realized Miller was planning a trip to West Virginia, to attend a family reunion in his native Hancock County, he invited him to drop by Stewart Hall. And Miller didnt disappoint.
Hes amazing,Clements said.He helped to build the Universitys success. To meet with him was such an honor.
Miller, who now lives in Missouri and will soon celebrate his 93rd birthday, served as the Universitys 15th president during a time of sweeping transformation. In his four years in office, the student population doubled and the campus swelled. The University broke ground for the Evansdale Campus, demolished old buildings to make way for the Mountainlair and established several research institutes and colleges.
He was known for being a champion of thepatched-pants students,those who arrived with little and worked diligently to leave with a degree.
He was also a proud 4-H member and supporter and continued that legacy even after leaving the University in 1966 to serve as Assistant Secretary of Education in the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Just three years ago, Miller and his wife established The Paul A. and Francena L. Miller Presidential Scholarship, which provides a guaranteed $3,000 a year to an eligible 4-Her. It is the largest single scholarship the WVU Extension Service has ever received.
I went on to have a long and varied career,Miller said.But part of my heart is in West Virginia and always will be. I got launched from here into the world in more ways than one.
At the end of their closed-door, 40-minute meeting, Clements led Miller into the lobby of Stewart Hall to present him with a copy of the original land-grant proclamation, framed and wrapped in blue ribbon.
There arent that many of these that exist,Clements told him.
Miller, flanked by his wife and choked with emotion, managed to utter a thank you and a grin.
We will always be West Virginians,Miller said, staring down at the gift.These are my people.