By Past-President Gwen Kay
In the before times (before SUNY System Administration), Teresa “Teri” Miller was on faculty at University of Buffalo’s law school. In addition to teaching, she was an advocate for those imprisoned. Her work for social justice and equity led her to administrative work, serving as vice president for diversity before every campus was required to have such a position.
Teri first came to SUNY System Administration to serve as former Chancellor Kristina Johnson’s chief of staff. In this position, she was able to leverage her commitment to diversity with Johnson’s. PRODiG – Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion and Growth – was part of her portfolio. The goal of the plan was, and is, to increase representation of historically under-represented faculty at all of our campuses. From her work at University at Buffalo, Teri understood that cohorts and community helped recruitment and retention of faculty, so she pushed for cluster hires as a key part of PRODiG.
When the former SUNY Chief Diversity Officer, and head of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion announced his retirement, Teri was the logical person to step up to that role. She continued her work with PRODiG, making tweaks and improving the program each year. She organized SUNY’s Diversity conference, and had a day just for the PRODiG faculty, to continue to build community across our many campuses.
Teri helped campuses, and their chief diversity officers, respond to challenges and crises. Her commitment to engage, and willingness to listen first enabled her to offer support and guidance in a non-threatening, but very effective way. She reached out to faculty governance, both UFS and FCCC, as an active partner for task forces, and for on-the-ground help with campus incidents. In response to Chancellor Malatras and the Board of Trusees, she worked with many partners to create a Diversity Action Plan.
In Teri, UFS had an ally and partner for our goals around equity, around social justice, around inclusion, and around diversity. She was quick to respond to our queries, always willing to talk with us about ODEI initiatives and PRODiG progress updates. We have truly lost a friend and partner in DEI work with her loss.
"Teresa A. "Teri" Miller, 59, promoted diversity as UB provost, SUNY executive", Buffalo News, 1 September 2021
"Longtime UB faculty member, diversity advocate Teresa Miller dies at 59", University at Buffalo Campus News
Scholarship established to honor Teri Miller
On August 6, a tremendous loss was felt across the SUNY family with the passing of Teresa Miller, our friend, colleague, and leader of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We received many calls and emails from members of our SUNY family expressing an overwhelming wish to be able to honor Teri. It is with that feedback in mind that we want you to be aware of our support and efforts to fund The Professor Teresa A. Miller Memorial Scholarship Fund. We are working closely with the University at Buffalo School of Law, which established the scholarship fund.
The scholarship fund serves as a permanent memorial to Teri and all that she believed in and accomplished in her life—through scholarship and support for a student pursuing a law degree at UB’s School of Law. In order to build upon Teri’s legacy, preference will be given to talented students from underrepresented minority communities who, like Teri, are focused on civil rights and social justice legal-based pursuits. When fully funded, every year, the endowment will provide a merit–based, full tuition scholarship to a deserving student of color through all three years of their law school study.
Through this link, you can designate any amount, and for those who may wish to consider a NYS tax credit for donations, please contact Marianne Hassan at Marianne.Hassan@suny.edu or 518-320-1865 for this option through the SUNY Impact Foundation. For any donation, please indicate that you are giving as a part of the SUNY System Administration family’s donation in honor of Teresa Miller. With any questions about the scholarship unrelated to the SUNY Impact Foundation, please contact Kendra Cadogan at Kendra.Cadogan@suny.edu or 518-320-1137.
Thank you so much for your helping in honoring Teri. We will continue to follow up with you as further information is available regarding plans for a memorial service celebrating her life. In the meantime, we want to share this New York Times piece from earlier this month. With each story, we get another glimpse at a life well lived.