John Miller, a professor of English, served Central College for 35 years. During his time at the college, he also served as the first Weller Chair from 1991-94, was the director of the Central College Program in London, England from 1974-75 and taught in Merida, Yucatan program five different times. Retired, he now lives in Louisville, Ky. with his wife Susan.
“We moved to Louisville to be nearer our daughter Dori and granddaughter Abby, who live here,” says Miller. “My brother and his family also live in the area.”
In his spare time, Miller enjoys cycling, gardening and cooking. Miller and his wife also enjoy going to the Louisville Orchestra and attending sports and music events at the University of Louisville. Even when staying busy, Miller still misses Iowa.
“It’s no surprise, but over the course of forty years in Iowa we made a lot of good friends,” he says. “Susan and I have been back several times to see them. When we do that I realize how much I miss them.”
Q: What did you like most about teaching English?
I really enjoyed English. I liked reading, and teaching was a way of being able read with other people and to be able to talk about it with students, which I enjoyed a lot. So, I enjoyed my subject matter a great deal, and secondly I enjoyed working with college-aged students.
Q: Did you have a favorite area of literature that you studied?
Most of my research was in 20th century American literature. The author that I spent most of my time on was Flannery O’Connor.
Q: What have you done since you’ve left Central?
I’ve been retired since 2005. My wife Susan and I lived in Pella until three years ago in 2011, and then we moved to Louisville to be nearer our daughter, Dori, and granddaughter, Abby, who live here. Dori teaches religion at Spalding University. Susan and I often pick up Abby after school, and we all get together for dinner and other activities. My brother and his family also live here in Louisville.
Q: What did you like best about Central?
I had always wanted to teach at a small liberal arts college, and Central gave me the opportunity to do that. Central was my second teaching position. I taught for three years at Militon University in Illinois before coming here. I found that Central College was much more open, much more friendly and a better sense of camaraderie among the faculty. I like the students at Central a lot also.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory?
My favorite memory from Central is a term in the late 1970s when I taught in the Merida, Yucatan program with John Bowles of the biology department. I remember especially how we used mist nets to catch bats that were living in the roof tiles of the college house. We photographed the bats, banded them and attached little transmitters so that we could track their movements. The students were so excited and curious about the project. Teaching in our international study programs had a profound effect on me and my family, both professionally and personally.
Q: Do you have any hobbies?
I have a lot of hobbies. One of my hobbies is bicycling, second hobby is gardening and third one is cooking. I am riding my bicycle less in Louisville than in Pella, but Susan and I particularly enjoy the amenities of the city such as restaurants, the Louisville Orchestra, history programs and music and sports at the University of Louisville, which is nearby. We have also found a church home here. I also continue to garden, read and cook.
Q: Is there anything you miss about Iowa?
I miss my friends in Iowa. Not a surprise to me, but over the course of forty years in Iowa, we made a lot of good friends and I have been back several times to see them. When I do that I realize how much I miss them.
Q: Any final thoughts?
I have always felt blessed to teach at Central College. It was a great place for me both personally and professionally. Early in my career, I got hooked on international study there. My family thrived in Pella (and my daughter Dori graduated from Central). I loved working in a small, liberal arts college where teaching and students came first. I enjoyed my colleagues and found myself learning new things from them every day. Even when times were tough and committee meetings dragged on, I liked going to work. I always thought of teaching at Central as a privilege.