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Olin College Academic Center Renamed for Outgoing President Richard K. Miller

Olin's Academic Center

A photo of Olin's Academic Center in 2016

The Olin College Board of Trustees has announced the renaming of the Academic Center to the Richard K. Miller Academic Center. Miller, Olin’s longtime president and first employee, will step down from his role on June 30, 2020, after 21 years leading the engineering college.

“There is no more deserving and lasting tribute we could bestow on Rick Miller than naming Olin’s academic center in his honor.  His passion, endless energy, and caring and humble leadership are key to the success Olin has enjoyed, and the contributions the College has made to higher education under his guidance, said Ken Stokes, Chair of the Olin College Board of Trustees. “It is only fitting that Rick’s name will now be on Olin’s most important building.” 

“In 1999 when I first arrived at Olin (which at that time was only a vision) I could never have imagined that Olin College would become so influential in the world of engineering education,” said Richard Miller.  "That happened largely because of the extraordinary people we were so fortunate to attract, the spirit of collaboration that pervades everything we do, and our intense commitment to constant experimentation.  It has been the greatest privilege of my professional life to be chosen to lead this institution from inception, and as I prepare to leave now, it is very much like a part of my family.  My heart will always be here.  I am deeply humbled by this permanent recognition and will be forever grateful to all who contributed to building this extraordinary institution.”

Miller was appointed in 1999 after the F.W. Olin Foundation announced plans to create a college from scratch by making what was, at that time, one of the largest gifts to a single institution in history. Olin College started as an experiment to educate engineers differently. At the time, the typical engineering student received a thorough technical education but lacked the necessary teamwork, project design and communication skills needed in industry. In just 20 short years, the principles on which an Olin education is founded—design thinking, collaborative teamwork and a gender-balanced student population—are now widely emulated throughout the world in engineering and STEM institutions.

During the past 10 years of Miller’s presidency, more than 3,014 individual visitors representing more than 874 educational and other institutions from around the world have visited Olin through its Collaboratory program, where educators looking to spark change in their own institutions come to Olin for inspiration and guidance.

A native of California, Miller earned his B.S. in aerospace engineering from the University of California, Davis, where he later received the 2002 Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award. He earned his S.M. from MIT and his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, where he received, in 2014, a Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award. Prior to joining Olin, Miller was the dean of engineering at the University of Iowa and, before that, associate dean of engineering at the University of Southern California.

Miller received the 2017 Brock International Prize in Education for his many contributions to the reinvention of engineering education in the 21st century. Together with two Olin colleagues, he received the 2013 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education from the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE). A member of both the NAE and the National Academy of Inventors, Miller was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2017. In 2011, he received the Marlowe Award for creative and distinguished administrative leadership from the American Society for Engineering Education.

Miller will serve as the Jerome C. Hunsaker Visiting Professor of Aerospace Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the 2020-21 academic year.