In his spring commencement address May 13 at the University of Missouri-Rolla, James Ronald Miller quoted John Wooden, Dr. Seuss and even Yogi Berra, who said, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Miller, who earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from UMR in 1964, spent 36 years with Procter & Gamble. His final promotion was to vice president and general manager at Procter & Gamble Worldwide for tissue, towels and facial products.
“It’s an important day for me because it once again reminds me that I have really been one of life’s lottery winners,” Miller said in his address. “I have an exceptional wife of 43 years, two wonderful children, five grandchildren, with another due next month, a great career with Procter & Gamble and a grace-filled life. And it all started with a degree from this very special institution.”
About 700 students received degrees during UMR’s Spring Commencement at the Gale Bullman Multi-Purpose Building. Miller was awarded an honorary doctorate.
“During the first 22 years or so of our lives most of us made a lot of withdrawals — from our parents’ bank accounts, from our schools’ knowledge accounts and from our communities’ service accounts,” Miller told the new graduates. “With time, you will be in positions that will allow you to make deposits so the process can continue…
“John Wooden, the great UCLA basketball coach has said, ‘You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.’”
Miller has served numerous professional and civic organizations in the communities in which he has lived, including the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, the United Way and the Chamber of Commerce in Cape Girardeau, Mo. He has served on the Board of Directors of Boatmen’s Bank, the American Red Cross and Hope Network Ministries.
At UMR, Miller was an honors student and an active member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He is a founding member of the UMR Academy of Civil Engineers. He is also a member of UMR’s Order of the Golden Shillelagh and a member and immediate past president of the UMR Board of Trustees. UMR previously awarded Miller an honorary professional degree.
“Historically, UMR has produced leaders in every field of endeavor — and this class will be just as successful,” Miller said. “Look around at your fellow graduates. You’re looking at future world-class researchers, CEOs, university professors, medical doctors, patent holders, business owners, church leaders, husbands, wives, parents.”
Miller and his wife Janice have a son, a daughter and five grandchildren.