When Ted Miller, director of Hillsdale College’s science labs, started at Hillsdale almost 15 years ago, College President Larry Arnn charged Miller with his biggest takeaway from his career at Hillsdale College,“to not blow up the building.”
Miller, mostly known as “Mr. T,” retired from his position at the college almost two weeks ago. Miller has enjoyed a lengthy career in Hillsdale’s chemistry department. Before coming to work for the College in 2005, he worked for Dow Chemical Company for 30 years and created more than 20 patents, six of which were commercialized.
“It’s really hard to do,” he said. “It’s a weird statistic, only one of 1000 scientists ever gets one patent. But in the industry, there’s a lot of pressure for you to produce.”
Miller’s background at Dow was fitting for his “combined role” of “teaching, lab management, and overseeing student employees in the lab.”
“The job was not organized at all when I got here,” he said. “Nobody’s fault, it’s just the way it was. But I’m extremely organized, and my mantra in the beginning was if I organize smart, I’ll never have to do anything.”
Director of Biology Frank Steiner said Miller “added a real sense of professionalism to the job.”
“He raised the level of his responsibilities considerably from the previous lab director,” Steiner said in an email. “He also was willing to work with everyone — students, as well as professors — and he was very willing to step outside (when needed) of his job description.”
Miller’s replacement will be Doug Brozsci, of whom he could not speak more highly.
“The reassuring thing is how great he is,” Miller said. “He’s in his young 60s, and is very athletic.We’re in close contact, and he’s going to be a super replacement.”
With his position filled, Miller’s next move is to leave Michigan for Georgia to focus on restoring cars and his family. Miller said he leads a “wonderful” life with a happy marriage and two sons who are now chemical engineers.
“One boy’s in Minneapolis, the other’s in Atlanta, both successful,” he said. “It’s a storybook life, you know. And so they pulled at us for the last 10 years: ‘Dad, you’re going to be 70: game over kind of thing. It’s time to relax and enjoy retirement.’ So I fought it for 10 years, and my wife said, ‘Please let’s do it.’”
In June, the Millers built a house on a golf course in a younger neighborhood in Georgia, where his wife and son currently wait for him.
“Cathie’s already down there, sipping a mint julep, while I’m up here shoveling snow and suffering in the land,” Miller said. “This weekend I’ll be driving down, forever leaving Michigan and becoming a resident of Georgia.”
But with all this said, leaving Hillsdale, especially the people, will be hard for Miller.
“The different universe of student quality in terms of personality and honor and character, it’s a special island in the world,” Miller said. “I hate to leave it.”