Prior Miller Center Leadership
Frederick E. Nolting, Jr., Ambassador to South Vietnam from 1961 to 1963 under President Kennedy, served as the Center’s first Director, retiring in 1977. Herbert J. Storing, a noted scholar of constitutional history who had spent his career with the University of Chicago, led the Center’s presidential studies before his untimely death that same year.
Kenneth W. Thompson, a prolific scholar of international relations and the presidency, served as the Center’s Director for more than 20 years, until 1998. Many of the Center’s hallmark programs began under Thompson, including the Forum series, the comprehensive oral history projects for successive presidential administrations, and the Center’s influential national commissions.
Philip D. Zelikow became the Director of the Center in 1998, and the Center’s programming expanded significantly during his tenure. While on public service leave from the Center, Zelikow served as executive director of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission), before leaving the Center to become as Counselor of the U.S. Department of State. In 2006, Zelikow left the State Department to join the faculty of the University of Virginia History Department.
Gerald L. Baliles became Director of the Miller Center in April 2006. During his service as Director, he has further enhanced the Center’s academic standing by adding to the faculty, among others, Bancroft Prize winner Melvin P. Leffler. He has also conceived a series of new programs and annual conferences that have enhanced the Center’s national reputation. Among these initiatives are the National War Powers Commission, the Mortimer Caplin Conference on the World Economy, and the National Discussion and Debate Series. The Center has likewise continued to strengthen its long-running programs, particularly in presidential studies. In 2010, the Miller Center began the George W. Bush Presidential Oral History Project, building on its projects on Presidents Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton.