Why we give
Miller Center donors discuss their involvement in the Center
WHY IS THE MILLER CENTER IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I believe we need a reputable, scholarly institution that discusses the topics that are important to Americans, without bias. There are no answers. That’s not what I’m looking for. I want information. Newspapers and cable news lean one way or the other. But at the Miller Center, I get an academic viewpoint, delving deeply into the full spectrum of critical issues.
SO, THE MILLER CENTER’S COMMITMENT TO NONPARTISANSHIP IS A BIG PART OF THE DRAW FOR YOU?
Whatever one’s views are, we can learn about policy issues from the other side. I have seen the Miller Center from all angles: as an active participant in its weekly events, as a donor, and as a member of the governing board. What the Miller Center provides is an opportunity for anyone in the public to learn about public policy without fear or favor.
Whatever one’s views are, we can learn about policy issues from the other side
YOU’RE A PHYSICIAN. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON OUR EFFORTS TO EXAMINE AND ANALYZE HEALTH POLICY DURING THE PANDEMIC?
Health care policy affects all of us, no matter our political affiliation. The Miller Center is a perfect venue for these discussions. The goal always is to find ways to work together and move forward.
WHAT ABOUT OUR WEEKLY EVENTS?
Miller Center scholars truly are a hidden gem in our community, offering their insights through lectures, book talks, and Q&As—all free to the public and available online at millercenter.org. I’m particularly impressed by the high frequency and caliber of the public programming. It’s trustworthy. What I learn at each event allows me to make up my own mind—whether the speakers are covering issues of health care, equity, elections, democracy, or foreign relations. There’s no other place like it.
THE MILLER CENTER SWITCHED FROM IN-PERSON TO ONLINE EVENTS AT THE START OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. YOU HAVE ATTENDED EVERY ONE OF THOSE EVENTS. HOW DID YOU DO IT?
I didn’t set it out as a goal, but I subscribed to the email newsletter and always signed up for the events I read about. I’ve been retired since 1998. I was still pretty active in the high technology community and signed up for many courses and discussions. When the pandemic hit, I could no longer do in-person events. Fortunately the Miller Center did a fabulous job of filling in the gaps with interesting content.
When the pandemic hit, I could no longer do in-person events. Fortunately the Miller Center did a fabulous job of filling in the gaps with interesting content
HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THE MILLER CENTER?
Shortly after my late wife and I moved to Crozet from Northern California in 2008, we attended a luncheon where [former Miller Center board member and renowned journalist] Jim Lehrer was one of the speakers. It was fascinating. When I got home, I went to the website and shortly after attended my first presentation at the Miller Center.
WHAT DOES THE MILLER CENTER MEAN TO YOU?
I’ve always been interested in public policy. The Center consistently has expert panelists and is able to engage in dialogue that is civil. The discussions include people who are clearly on opposite sides of the issue, but are always very respectful of one another.
WHY SUPPORT THE CENTER?
I’ve always believed that if you take advantage of programs, you have an obligation to support them. These things don’t materialize out of thin air. They require funding. I also believe in the mission. It’s easy to become polarized and siloed. I’ve always appreciated that the Miller Center provides a place for discussion, and I’ve tried to support that to the extent that I can.
Kip Acheson and Elizabeth Carr
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED WITH THE MILLER CENTER?
Three years, beginning when we retired to Charlottesville from Portland, Oregon.
WHAT FIRST DREW YOU TO THE WORK OF THE MILLER CENTER?
KIP: When we were in Portland, I joined the board of the World Affairs Council, whose mission was education on global affairs. When we came to Charlottesville, I was looking to replicate that experience. I wanted something interactive and personal, where I could keep learning. The Miller Center offers that. And the fact that the Center attracts speakers from D.C. and elsewhere—that’s a plus for us. It’s access that we’d normally have only through television.
ELIZABETH: We’d also seen some of the Miller Center’s work on C-SPAN. And the Center’s connection with Jim Lehrer [a board member and legendary journalist who passed away earlier this year] was also appealing. And we’re drawn to the Center’s commitment to be nonpartisan.
The Center’s work to challenge the political system and analyze the presidency is also so important, especially during a crisis like we’ve had this year.
WHY HAVE YOU REMAINED LOYAL SUPPORTERS?
KIP: We go to as many Miller Center events as possible. It’s important to us that the Center organizes and provides these lectures, interviews, and symposia at no charge for the community and students. We want to support that. The Center’s work to challenge the political system and analyze the presidency is also so important, especially during a crisis like we’ve had this year.
ELIZABETH: Yes, it was terrific that the Miller Center continued lectures, even though everything had to be done remotely. We still get a lot out of the online webinars and appreciate the efforts to keep programming going.
Allen and Ellen Hench
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED WITH THE MILLER CENTER?
Shortly after we moved to Charlottesville from rural central Pennsylvania in 1999, I read about these free Friday morning discussions at the Miller Center. I went to one, with former Miller Center director Ken Thompson serving as moderator. The featured speaker would sit among the group, at the head of the large table in the center of the room, and all the guests scattered around. After the presentation, Ken opened the discussion. I went regularly each time I could. So when the Miller Center’s giving society, the Presidential Cabinet, was first started, we decided this was a cause we loved. And we have been members of the Cabinet every year since.
The opportunity for public presentation and discussion is just so cool!
WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO REMAIN LOYAL SUPPORTERS?
The opportunity for public presentation and discussion is just so cool! These are folks with fantastic back-grounds and experiences, with research, authorship, expertise. I have been blown away by the opportunity to sit with them and hear various viewpoints. As part of the Presidential Cabinet, we were invited to grand events—dinners, lunches, receptions, tapings, debates, etc.—over the years. These were people and places I had only dreamed about knowing and experiencing. This had a major impact. We felt like we were part of the “Miller Center family.”
WHAT ASPECT OF THE MILLER CENTER’S WORK IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?
We’ve always loved public policy. And to be at the heart of the Center’s mission, as observer or participant, means so much. The Center’s research, special projects, presentations, and its role in informing the public and accepting input and analysis, is really vital these days. We are thrilled to be part of the endeavor, even in just a small way.