Dr. Vince Miller, vice president for student affairs at VSU, has had a busy year due to COVID-19, but he hasn’t allowed that to put a damper on his passion for VSU’s students.
The Louisiana native began his journey in 1997 at Louisiana Tech University, where he received his bachelor’s in marketing and master’s in industrial psychology.
After 10 years, Dr. Miller got his Doctor of Education at the University of Georgia. In 2006, he took a position as the assistant director of admissions at Georgia Southern University. Due to uncertainty at Georgia Southern, Dr. Miller found himself at VSU as the vice president for student affairs.
“I was fortunate that the right time and the right opportunity came along here at Valdosta State,” Dr. Miller said.
Coming up on his fifth year at VSU, Dr. Miller is still as passionate about student life as ever. During his time as an undergraduate student, Dr. Miller was involved in a lot of campus life.
“I was a part of SGA, campus activity board, I was an orientation leader, worked in athletics as an athletic trainer, and athletic marketing,” Dr. Miller said. “I did everything, so as graduation was approaching, I couldn’t imagine not being a college student.”
At Louisiana Tech, Dr. Miller was also an admissions recruiter and led orientations for the students. It was no surprise that he would also lead orientations at his job at Georgia Southern.
“The orientation aspect of my job kind of opened the door to looking at orientation jobs,” he said. “This is what moved me to working in the university system.”
Dr. Miller loves his job and focuses on creating a prideful experience for all VSU students.
“One of the things that remains core to the universities is that pride you have in the place you go,” Dr. Miller said. “We want that pride to develop because of what you do for you.”
The Division of Student Affairs is grouped into student engagement and student support. According to Dr. Miller, student support includes the housing environment, student conduct, health center, and counseling center. He said supporting students outside of the classroom is also a big part of his job.
Dr. Miller is also part of the COVID task force at VSU, which means he is in charge of a large number of changes that the university has had to endure due to the pandemic.
With the guidance of the health department, CDC, and the governor’s office, Dr. Miller and the rest of the COVID task force have taken the time to make the right changes for VSU.
“All of that has been 100% consuming,” Dr. Miller said. “We had to reinvent how we operate.”
Dr. Robert Smith, provost and vice president for academic affairs, is co-chair with Dr. Miller on the COVID-19 task force for VSU. He says Dr. Miller has been a great partner throughout the pandemic.
“Dr. Miller keeps a very close watch on our COVID numbers and is in constant communication with his staff, especially in housing and student health,” he said.
According to Dr. Smith, Dr. Miller worked very quickly with the science and math dean to determine what storage units would go where in order for VSU to become a center for COVID vaccine distribution.
“I think the reason that we will have these low-temperature freezers and others might not is that because of Dr. Miller’s quick action,” Dr. Smith said. “We were far out in front of others who were seeking to purchase such units.
Reminiscing on his time as a student, Dr. Miller seeks to assure students that his support is available to them, especially during a time like this.
“This job is busy,” he said. “But regardless of what my schedule looks like, my door is always open to students.”
Even after two decades, Dr. Miller’s passion for students hasn’t faded.
Alton Standifer, a former student and colleague of Dr. Miller’s at Georgia Southern, views him as a mentor in a variety of areas. The biggest trait that sticks out to Standifer is Dr. Miller’s passion for the students.
“He always purposed his work through a student-centric point of view,” Standifer said. “That is one of the biggest things that made him very welcoming, and someone for the students to get along with.”
Standifer describes Dr. Miller as not only passionate, but accountable and honest.
Dr. Miller’s advice is one of the reasons he has been able to accomplish many things throughout his career, according to Standifer. The biggest piece of advice given to Standifer was a question.
“What have you done to help change someone’s life today?” Standifer said. “This was something he would ask our staff at the end of a day of work.”
Dr. Miller’s question reminded Standifer that work done should always be focused on the students and their families.
“I even think about it today as we work from home and navigate all these challenging situations,” Standifer said.
Written by Jonnie Brewer, Assistant Copy Editor. Photo courtesy of The Spectator.