Welcome Grace Ju Miller - The Echo News
Via Ad

Welcome Grace Ju Miller

Taylor welcomes new dean of the School of Natural and Applied Sciences

After serving Indiana Wesleyan University as a professor of biology, Grace Ju Miller is welcomed to Taylor as the new dean of the School of Natural and Applied Sciences. (Photograph provided by Grace Ju Miller)

After serving Indiana Wesleyan University as a professor of biology, Grace Ju Miller is welcomed to Taylor as the new dean of the School of Natural and Applied Sciences. (Photograph provided by Grace Ju Miller)

By Emily Rachelle Russell | Echo

This June, Taylor University will welcome to campus the new dean of the School of Natural and Applied Sciences, Grace Ju Miller.

Miller has a varied and experienced background in academic and leadership positions. She is currently a professor of biology at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) and is on sabbatical conducting research in Taiwan on rice bioinformatics, according to Taylor University Provost Jeff Moshier’s announcement. A few of her previous positions include faculty chair of the biology department at Gordon College, high school biology teacher in an orphanage in Morocco and seed bank director of Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO) in Florida. Miller has enjoyed traveling, working and teaching in Central America, Kenya and Southeast Asia.

Dan Hammond, professor of chemistry and chair of the department of chemistry and biochemistry at Taylor, was in charge of the search committee consisting of the chairs of each department at Taylor and a few other individuals. The process for hiring the new dean followed a similar format as hiring for any other faculty opening. According to Hammond, about a dozen applicants submitted their curriculum vitae and other requested materials. After Skype interviews with qualified applicants, three candidates were invited to campus for interviews in person.

Though this is Miller’s first employed position at Taylor University, she has been in relationship with Taylor for several years. Mike Guebert, professor and department chair of the earth and environmental science department, has known Miller for eight years.

“She has a lot of ideas, and she has a lot of energy,” Guebert said. “She’s a very relational person. Those are the things that I appreciate(,) that I think she will bring to Taylor (and) that will be really strong and positive contributions.”

When Taylor began researching and preparing to start the campus garden at Randall, Guebert contacted Miller for advice from her work with IWU’s garden. She has spoken at Taylor at least four times and has interacted with Taylor students and faculty alongside IWU students at Victory Acres. Miller also shared that she was offered a position at Taylor once before.

Miller makes an impression on many of the people she knows. John Lakanen, dean of physical and applied sciences and executive dean of the college of arts and sciences at IWU, works with Miller both as her colleague and her supervisor in her current position. He speaks highly of Miller’s passion and vision and supports her transition into this new role.

“(Miller) is a strong advocate for causes she believes in,” Lakanen said. “In everything (Miller) does in the classroom, you can hear the Gospel clearly. She has a missionary’s heart with higher education as the vehicle to share God’s love.”

Guebert and Hammond both speak highly of Miller’s background in various roles and fields of research. Along with her career in various scientific roles, Miller’s bachelor’s degree was a double major in plant biology and art; Hammond feels her appreciation of art will aid her interactions with other deans and administrators and strengthen her role as a member of a liberal arts university. Lakanen and Hammond agree that as a dean she will further interdisciplinary community and advocate for multiple programs.

As Miller steps into this next part of her career, Hammond and Guebert have support and advice to share. Hammond agrees with a statement Miller made in her interview process: that she would seek to understand and get to know Taylor before making any changes. Guebert offers the same advice he shares with anyone who asks, which he feels Miller already practices: listen to people.

“I’m very excited about starting this job as dean,” Miller said. “I’m really blessed to be joining a community that is reaching out to me.”

Comments are closed.