President’s Circle Spotlight: Cecil Miller ’84

Stories Of Impact

President’s Circle Spotlight: Cecil Miller ’84

Cecil Miller, Ph.D., is a beloved professor at Vanguard University. For decades, Dr. Miller has served at Vanguard in many roles, including department chair, division chair, dean, and associate provost. He is also a long-time President's Circle member.

Cecil Miller, Ph.D., is a beloved professor at Vanguard University. For decades, Dr. Miller has served at Vanguard in many roles, including department chair, division chair, dean, and associate provost.  He is also a long-time President’s Circle member.
After graduating from Vanguard in 1984, Dr. Miller earned a Ph.D. focused on cell physiology as applied to cancer biology. After that, he completed a 3-year post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Southern California Norris Cancer Center where he studied the genetic changes resulting in cell immortality and mechanisms of chemical carcinogenics. 

As a professor of physiology and cell biology, Dr. Miller teaches and encourages students to excel in the field he is passionate about. He is known for his genuine care and love for Vanguard’s students, which you often see as he intentionally engages with students throughout campus. Students know that they have an advocate and mentor for life in Dr. Miller.  

He and his wife, Liesel ’84, are proud Vanguard alumni, along with their daughter Carmen, who graduated in 2006.

Did you receive a scholarship as a student? 
As a student, my wife Liesel and I received the science and math academic scholarship each semester. This scholarship fostered a deep appreciation of Vanguard and made it possible for us (Liesel and I went to Vanguard together) to pay our college expenses each semester. 

What would you say to those who provided scholarship dollars to you? 
We developed a deep appreciation and great thankfulness for their sacrifice and support. The scholarship funds filled the financial gap between what we could earn from our employment and our expenses each semester. It allowed us to return each semester. 

Describe the Vanguard community.  
My experience is that the Vanguard community is a place of academic excellence, support for overcoming challenges, spiritual growth, excellent mentoring, and development of lifelong friendships. 

How were you cared for as a student by a faculty or staff member? 
During our senior year, my wife became pregnant. The timing seemed wrong. We had decided our only option was for Liesel to drop out of school at the end of the fall semester. We met with our chemistry professor and academic advisor Dr. Don Lorance to give him the news and inform him that Liesel would not be returning for her final semester in spring due to the birth of our child. He was excited for us and wisely advised us that we could find a way to be parents and finish our degree. He would help both of us graduate. Our daughter was born December 1. With the help of the staff and faculty, we finished the fall semester and graduated after the spring semester. 

Do you have a favorite Vanguard memory? 
There are so many great memories. My favorite memory was how we were encouraged by the faculty and staff to continue going to class even though we had a newborn child. Liesel gave birth via C-section on a Thursday, and by Monday, we were back in class with the baby. The faculty were so supportive by allowing us to come to class with our newborn child. They also helped babysit our daughter in the office while we went to class. We were blessed to have a very happy, non-demanding baby, and doubly blessed to have so much love and support from the faculty and staff. 

How were you different from when you started at VU than when you graduated? 
As science majors (Liesel majored in chemistry, and I double majored in biology and chemistry), we had to work very hard in our courses. We acquired extensive knowledge and developed excellent academic skills, which prepared us to succeed in our graduate studies. We developed and grew spiritually. Personally, we matured and strengthened our relationship. We were prepared for the challenges of the rest of our careers. 

Why do you choose to support Vanguard University? 
My wife and I experienced the value of a Vanguard education and were recipients of financial support as students. Our academic scholarships made completing our degrees possible. The Vanguard degree was the foundation for our higher education endeavors and our career success. We want to bless other students as we were blessed. 

What is your prayer for VU? 
My prayer is that Vanguard would continue to hire excellent faculty and staff that are dedicated to academic excellence, spiritual formation, and student mentoring. I pray that students will have the life-changing experiences that we had when we were students.  

How is VU impacting our world for Christ?  
Vanguard students are prepared to be leaders in their areas of expertise. Their education, Christian character, and professional excellence provide opportunities to let their light shine in dark places in this world. This impacts the world for Christ.

How do you describe VU to people who are not familiar with it? 
Vanguard is a place that provides excellent education, spiritual development, and mentoring.  This education prepares the student to develop the gifts that God has given them for career preparation and Christ-honoring leadership in the world. 

How have you seen the Lord’s provision for Vanguard displayed? 
Vanguard has experienced significant challenges. These include accreditation, financial, political, cultural, leadership, and academic. The Lord has been faithful by providing wisdom from the Holy Spirit and financial support from its stakeholders. The Lord has provided a way for us to overcome each of the challenges we face. The “Vine of His Planting” continues to grow for the glory of God and the furtherance of His Kingdom. Praise be to God.