Beloved Professor Receives Honorary Doctor Of Humane Letters

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Beloved Professor Receives Honorary Doctor Of Humane Letters Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. with Master Teacher Ann Miller at the recent Academic Convocation, in which Miller received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Looking on is Miller's brother, retired history professor James Vardaman.
April 24, 2003

Baylor honored one of its most beloved and respected members of the faculty at the annual Academic Convocation, held April 23 in the McLean Foyer of Meditation at Armstrong Browning Library. Ann Miller, professor of English and Master Teacher, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr.

Reading from the degree citation, Sloan said, "Having now been a professor herself in the English department for over 40 years, Professor Miller continues to be pronounced 'brilliant' as she brings literature to life for and in her students. Her abilities to challenge, encourage, inspire and exhort students to reach beyond themselves are legendary. In recognition of her lifelong dedication to Baylor, to the arts and to outstanding teaching, Baylor University bestows the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters upon one of its most admired and treasured graduates and faculty members, Ann Vardaman Miller."

After receiving the doctoral hood from Dr. Donald D. Schmeltekopf, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. David Lyle Jeffrey, distinguished professor of literature and humanities and provost-elect, Miller spoke of her love of Baylor and of teaching.

"I am profoundly moved and my deepest gratitude goes to the administration for this capstone experience which humbles me utterly," she said. "This award does not come only to me; it honors teaching itself. It honors those professors of the past. I like to think it honors those outstanding colleagues with whom I have walked this campus. Professors, who through their scholarship and generosity of spirit, have influenced thousands of students. This award belongs to the students who have made teaching a sheer and surpassing joy, nothing less. I will remember this [moment] always. Will, as Yeats said, 'Hear it in the deep heart's core.'"

Miller was born in Dallas, attended Baylor and was distinguished at graduation as one of two students who had earned an honors degree. She pursued advanced studies at the University of Texas under the tutelage of the celebrated Harry Ransom. She returned to Baylor and completed her master of arts degree in English. Department chairman Charles G. Smith pronounced her to be one of the most brilliant students he ever taught.

She began teaching in the English department in 1961, and in 1982 became one of the first two Master Teachers at Baylor. Miller has been named Outstanding Professor by Mortar Board 12 times, by the student body, by Student Congress and by alumni groups repeatedly during her tenure.

Miller is the widow of Dr. Robert T. Miller, who served as chairman of Baylor's political science department and was The R.W. Morrison Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science until his death in 1996. The couple had two children, Robert T. Miller Jr. of Bedford, Texas, and Lauri Miller Smith of Fresno, Calif.

The Academic Convocation, held in conjunction with the Harry and Anna Jeanes Honors Week, serves as a time to focus on the academic accomplishments of the finest students in the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Alden Smith, chair of the classics department and director of the University Scholars program, delivered the Convocation address, "Between Melancholy and Mirth: Life that Resonates with Text." Additionally, outstanding students and department chairs from the College were recognized, as well as students in the honors program and those who have been selected for membership in Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Also participating in the program were Dr. Wallace Daniel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Doris DeLoach, professor of oboe and music theory, who performed the opening prelude.

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