My Bag

A President’s Bag | Liam Bialobrzeski

Name: Jack Miller

Occupation: University President

Location: New Britain, Connecticut

I had done my research. I had run countless simulations. I pumped myself up with a pep talk to the mirror. Thursday, April 14th at 2:00 p.m. I was scheduled to interview The President. Well, the President of Central Connecticut State University. Over the course of eleven years, President Jack Miller has published countless articles, as well as America’s Most Literate Cities, instituted a nursing and engineering program, and worked to increase graduation rates by 17 percent. Somehow, all my research did little to quell my anxiety. Relief came later, when I was met with a hearty laugh, proud smile, and firm handshake. I was supposed to be writing for the My Bag Column, but how could I restrict the interview to a single brief case when the shelves surrounding me were covered in the real triumphs of Miller’s career.


Pratt & Whitney Eagle : I had some engineering students doing internships at Pratt and Whitney. Pratt and Whitney had breakfast for all the CCSU students that were there and the students gave me the Eagle statue which is the Pratt and Whitney Engineering Emblem. It has a personal statement engraved to me.

International Plaques : There’s a plaque from Japan and Germany where we send students every year. We’ve been working to get more international students and also sending students out abroad. In fact we’re one of the top twenty Universities for abroad, particularly short term abroad. We send hundreds and hundreds of our students each year.


GSU vs. FSU : I started working as a teacher and assistant coach after college in Chicago, instead of taking up a journalism job in Dubuque, Iowa. From there I just kept taking new opportunities. You never know what will happen, you do your job well and something new comes along. Then you try something else and if you do that well, another opportunity will find you. This idea of point A to B is wrong; you have to live through it all.


My second University job was as Dean of the College of Education at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. Then I got the job as Dean of Education at Florida State University. When I left GSU they brought in that picture of the game between Florida State and GSU playing football, the crowd is cheering for GSU’s first touchdown. They told me to take the picture with you and hang it in your office at Florida State because the players with their backs to us in the maroon, those are Florida State players. Everyone there will think it’s cool you already have a picture of Florida State football, but you’ll really know it’s a picture of Georgia South and remember us every time you look at it. I’ve taken that picture with me every place that I’ve gone. I left GSU in ’93 and I’ve been to four more universities since.

Racehorses : My wife and I own racehorses. I often tell a story about them to teachers when I talk about setting goals. They have got to stretch you out a little bit, they can’t be something you can achieve like that [Miller snaps his fingers]. But they can’t be too hard. I used to tell people when I retired that I was thinking I’d like to be a jockey, but then I realized the most you can weigh is about 107 lbs. so I’d have to lose 200 lbs. (laughs). If you look at the pictures you’ll see my wife and I in the winner’s circle with some of the horses. Some of them are harness racing horses; if you look at the one far down at the right you’ll see me, the tallest one in there.


America’s Most Literate Cities : On the shelf are files of fourteen years on a continual study I’ve published called America’s Most Literate Cities. It’s every city, over 250,000 cities. I rank them on a variety of things, but a little over a year ago, I decided to expand to countries of the world. I have five sets of variables, one being reading test scores, but the rest are not just about test scores. I ask how many people read newspapers, both in print and on the internet, library circulation, and stuff like that. I waited to release the book alongside my annual study, so we could cross promote the book. I could only find sixty-one countries to provide enough data to include in my study. In order to participate in the test scores you’re supposed to include the whole country. While China will use the same standardized test, they’re only testing educated populations from Hong Kong and such. If we were to test kids in the countryside, I think we might get some very different results. When you look at additional variables to the test scores, Finland is at the top.


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