Retired Executive Funds Unique Scholarship at Columbus State

 From Focus magazine, Fall 2013

A longtime CSU supporter, retired Aflac executive R. Duke Miller, has established an endowment that will provide scholarships and offer gifted students unique extras to enhance their academic experiences.

Miller said he wants his scholarship recipients, CSU's Miller Scholars, to maintain at least a 3.0 grade-point average. Those with a 3.3 GPA or better will qualify for extra funding for special school-related needs.

"Columbus State appreciates Mr. Miller's belief that the best students thrive on opportunity, and incentives like these help motivate them," said Alan Medders, CSU's vice president for University Advancement. "This will help attract more promising students, and the beauty of this is that it will encourage them to be among the best students by the time they graduate."

Miller said his interest in funding this new $500,000 scholarship endowment grew out of a post-concert discussion in about 2006 with a strings student.

"I was very impressed with her commitment to entertaining people," Miller said. "I became very interested in her attitude and asked, 'What do you want to do with your life and career?'"

Responding that she wanted to become a professional musician, Miller asked about the best route toward that goal and possible obstacles. The student mentioned she needed to compete at a national level, but prestigious competitions required entry fees that couldn't always be covered by CSU or the student. Miller funded the student's next entry fee to compete nationally.

"I just wanted to help someone," Miller said, later discussing the situation with his attorney, Morton A. Harris, a CSU Foundation senior trustee. "We thought, if it's good for one, it might be good for others, too," Miller said. "So we decided we might eventually have an open-ended endowment."

Miller and his late wife, Lois, were longtime supporters of CSU's Schwob School of Music, attending performances, offering financial support and leading patron organizations. In 2010, they made a $50,000 donation to the Schwob school for similar purposes. Miller's 2013 gift offers scholarships to deserving students in any CSU program, as well as incentives to cover travel, technology, books — whatever CSU administrators agree will help students excel.

For more information on establishing an endowment or making other gifts, contact Spence Sealy, associate vice president for development, at 706-507-8955 or visit http://ColumbusState.edu/giving.

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Photo caption: CSU President Tim Mescon, center, visits with Duke Miller and a friend, Mary Pierson, at Spring Harbor Retirement Community, thanking Miller for his scholarship endowment.