Alfred University News

Alfred University trustee, benefactor Marlin Miller ’54, HD ’89, ’19 feted at Board dinner

Three times, those in attendance at Thursday evening’s Alfred University Board of Trustees dinner—Board members, students, staff, and faculty alike—rose to their feet in applause to salute Marlin Miller ’54, HD ’89, ’19, longtime trustee, and generous benefactor to his alma mater.


ALFRED, NY – Three times, those in attendance at Thursday evening’s Alfred University Board of Trustees dinner—Board members, students, staff, and faculty alike—rose to their feet in applause to salute Marlin Miller ’54, HD ’89, ’19, longtime trustee, and generous benefactor to his alma mater.

The tribute was touching for all those in attendance, none more so than Miller himself, whose philanthropy has transformed not only the campus, but also the lives of the countless students his scholarships have supported over the years.

“This is unbelievable…I can’t react to this; I’m truly speechless,” Miller said, his voice filled with emotion following the viewing of a video tribute, in which his colleagues on the Board, faculty, and students offered their words of appreciation for the impact he has had on their lives and the University.

“You say you appreciate having served with me,” Miller—who on July 1 will become Chair Emeritus Life Trustee after more than a half-century on the Board—said to his fellow Board members. “I’m the one who is fortunate. This has been a labor of love, to be involved with so many wonderful trustees. It’s been easy to give back.”

Miller has given back to Alfred University in so many ways. He joined the Board of Trustees in 1970 and served 52 years, including six (1983-89) as Chair. Three of the most visually striking facilities on campus—the Miller Performing Arts Center, Miller Theater, and Alfred Ceramic Arts Museum—were made possible by Marlin’s generosity. So, too, were a renovated Tefft residence hall and the unique link connecting Tefft and Moskowitz halls. His philanthropy also supported renovations to Openhym residence hall.

He endowed the directorship of the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum in honor of his long-time friend, Wayne Higby, the Museum’s current director and chief curator. He also endowed the Robert C. Turner Professorship in Ceramic Art, the Ted Randall Chair for international visiting artists, and a dance residency program for the Division of Performing Arts and created the Marcianne Mapel Miller fund for ceramic art in honor of his late first wife, who earned a B.F.A. in ceramic art from Alfred University in 1955.

Most impactful has been Miller’s support of students through the scholarships he funds. Hundreds have benefitted from his generosity, and Miller spoke about how meaningful it is to have a chance to sit down with some of them and talk about their experiences at Alfred. “If there is one thing that is most satisfying, it is to give scholarship aid. They (students) say they wouldn’t have been here without the scholarship. To be able to influence that has been the most meaningful thing I could do.”

Erin Martinovich, vice president of University Advancement, described Miller as an “Alfred legend” before presenting the video tribute. “For him, it has always been about the students,” said Martinovich, asking the student scholarship recipients in attendance to stand. “He changed the footprint of Alfred University…His legacy is expansive.”

Martinovich presented Miller with a book, “Notes to Marlin,” in which members of the Alfred University community past and present—students, trustees, faculty and staff—offered words of appreciation for what he has meant to the University.

Matthew Washington ’04, a member of the Board of Trustees, spoke about Miller and the impact he has had on his life, as a student and as a member of the Board. Washington, like so many Board members, count Miller as a mentor.

“Talking abut Marlin’s legacy is truly an honor. The one word about Marlin that resonates with me is ‘humble.’ He is such a gracious man,” Washington said.

“I think about the opportunity you gave so many students to pursue their dreams. I thank you for investing in so many of us and for being a man who cares so much for others. The impact you’ve had on this University is immeasurable.”

“Our promise to our students is to help them realize their potential,” Mark Zupan, Alfred University president, commented. “Marlin’s legacy in that respect is lengthy. His greatest impact has been the inspiration he has provided to so many.”

In photo above, Marlin Miller '54, HD '89, '19 is all smiles as he receives a book, “Notes to Marlin,” printed in his honor. Looking on is Erin Martinovich, vice president of University Advancement.