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Jack Miller key to DU’s alumni connections

Jack Miller

Alumnus Jack was instrumental in creating the Leo Block Alumni Center and launching the University of Denver Magazine. Photo: Michael Richmond

Jack Miller helped the University of Denver raise $275 million, met alumni in 23 countries and now is a successful fundraising consultant. He also is the recipient of DU’s 2006 Randolph P. McDonough Service to Alumni Award, presented at Founders Day.

But Miller’s path to success was not direct. In fact, he once lived on a railroad car.

Fresh out of his first year at Kansas State University — “I had a great social life, but my academics were a disaster!” — Miller spent the summer on a signal gang, hopping out of moving cars on weekends to make his way home to Manhattan, Kan. Eventually, he decided to attend Washburn University, where he discovered a true love for student affairs and alumni relations.

Miller went on to run nationally recognized alumni associations for the University of Nebraska and Ball State University. Then, DU came knocking.

Miller met then-Chancellor Dan Ritchie and, on a handshake, took the position of vice chancellor for institutional advancement. Expecting to stay at DU for three years, Miller never signed a contract.

“I believe your word is your bond,” Miller says, “and I told Dan I’d stay as long as the campaign ran.”

Miller was good to his word. The campaign’s original goal was $140 million, but when it ended six years later, the campaign had raised $275 million.

Because he believed that the University’s alumni must reap tangible results from their generosity, he was instrumental in creating the Leo Block Alumni Center and launching the University of Denver Magazine.

“Here we were, asking alumni for a lot of money and support for the institution,” Miller recalls. “It was important to give alumni a publication of good quality that engenders a sense of pride in what’s going on at their alma mater.”

The alumni center was important, he says, because it gave alumni “a sense of place. It proves they are valued because they have their own building.”

“Jack was passionate in his devotion to the improvement not only of DU but also of the alumni experience,” remembers then-Provost Bill Zaranka, an associate professor of English. “Our mission — to be a great private University dedicated to the public good — was one Jack embraced wholeheartedly.”

Miller left the University in 2002 and now runs his own consulting company, Miller Group Worldwide. But he remembers his DU experience fondly.

“I’m proud that I was part of the team that contributed to the rebirth of DU.”


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