MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As a child in Hancock County, Paul Miller received valuable advice about college from his Extension agent. Later, as a higher education leader and WVU’s 15th president, Dr. Miller would make Extension an even more powerful tool for improving lives.
Miller passed away Friday, June 5, at age 98.
His childhood 4-H experiences inspired his educational goals.
“My involvement in 4-H helped to make me a good student, and I became valedictorian of my class. I began to dream of becoming a county 4-H and agricultural agent,” he once said. “My parents didn’t really know what it meant to go to college, nor did I. Hancock County WVU Extension Agent Walter C. Gumbel insisted that I become the first of my family line to have that experience. He was first among those who helped my parents and me to understand college attendance as more than an impossible dream.”
At the height of the Great Depression, Miller attended Bethany College for one year before transferring to WVU and working his way through school. When he graduated, Extension Director J.O. Knapp invited him to serve as an agent in Ritchie County.
He served as an agent in both Ritchie and Nicholas counties before joining the military when the United States entered World War II. In the U.S. Army Air Corps, he served as a navigator in the AAF Ferry Command. After the war ended, he enrolled in graduate studies at Michigan State University and earned a Ph.D. in anthropology and sociology in 1953.
Miller then launched what was to become a 50-plus year academic career, first at Michigan State where he served as a faculty member, Director of Cooperative Extension, and provost. In 1962, he became president of WVU…