Academic Resource Center building with Bill and JoAnne Miller's name added

Loras College Receives $5 Million Gift

Robert Waterbury

Loras College President Jim Collins (’84) announced on Wednesday, Feb. 13 the receipt of a $5 million cash gift from Loras Academy graduate William P. (Bill) Miller of Camarillo, Calif. This is the largest one-time cash gift in Loras College’s 180-year history. In recognition of his contribution, the Academic Resource Center will be now be named the Bill (A ’52) and JoAnne Miller Academic Resource Center.

“Today is a transformational day for Loras. Bill’s wonderful kindness and generosity, for which we are grateful, will make an incredible difference in the lives of current and future Loras students,” Vice President for Advancement/Treasurer Mike Doyle, J.D. (’91) said. “Loras’ gift is in our commitment to forming and inspiring young people to become active learners, reflective thinkers, ethical decision makers and responsible contributors to the world. Bill’s gift will only enhance our ability to honor this commitment.”

Miller and his wife, JoAnne, were married in 1965 and raised three children. Both Miller and his wife are Wisconsin natives, with JoAnne grew up in the Richland Center area and Miller in Cuba City. This past December, after 54 years of marriage, JoAnne passed away. To honor Bill and JoAnne’s life and family, Loras College will designate a location of the Bill (A ’52) and JoAnne Miller Academic Resource Center to celebrate and illustrate their commitment to Loras and their story.

His gift will be used to assist in completing campus facility and supporting infrastructure upgrades, including Keane Hall, the Rock Bowl and Loras’ multimedia program space. In addition to facility upgrades, Loras plans to strengthen its entrepreneurial offerings and work with small towns to assist in future growth.

“We are extremely blessed for the generosity that Bill has shown to Loras College,” President Jim Collins (’84) shared. “With this gift, our Loras Community will benefit for years to come as we continue to enhance the educational and faith-based opportunities that our students experience during their time as Duhawks.”

Miller’s time at Loras Academy made an immense impact on his life for which he credits helping to make him the person he is today. He admires Loras’ commitment to forming and inspiring the lives of young people, helping them to pursue ethical and engaged lives. Since his time at Loras Academy, Miller has remained connected to his classmates and family in the area.

When asked, “Why Loras?”, Miller shared, “It is a combination of Loras Academy, Dubuque and Loras College. Dubuque is about as close to anything that JoAnne and I have considered home,” Miller said. “I am close to my sisters, Mary Pat Kilkelly (Darlington, Wis.) and Helen Spielman (Dubuque) and the rest of my family who keep coming back to Dubuque and the surrounding communities. Since my time at Loras Academy, I have remained connected to my classmates and family in the area.”

“I have had an uncle, great-nephew and two great-nieces graduate from Loras and another great-niece currently attending Loras. This, along with my time and experience at Loras Academy made me think, ‘Why not Loras?”.

The son of Roy and Philomena, Miller was born in Darlington and lived there until the age of five when he moved to Cuba City with his mother and two sisters after his father passed away from cancer in 1940. In the fall of 1948, Miller arrived in Dubuque as a freshman at Loras Academy and later graduated before enrolling at Marquette University in the fall of 1952.

In the summer of 1953, Miller received a letter from the Grant County Draft Board, indicating that he had been drafted. Not happy with her son’s progress in his first year at Marquette, Miller’s mother, as head of the Grant County draft board sent the letter to Bill that started with, “Dear Son,” and ended with, “Love, Mom”.

After Miller completed his Army commitment, which included 14 months overseas in Korea, he spent a semester at Platteville State Teacher’s College, before returning to Marquette where he graduated in 1959.

His career started with Thomas & Betts, a New Jersey based New York Stock Exchange electrical business where he spent his first two years in the sales division based in Wisconsin. After two years, Miller was promoted to the company’s headquarters and over time held several management positions, eventually assuming the role of executive vice president and a member of Thomas & Betts’ Board of Directors. He was credited with expanding Thomas & Betts into the electronic market.

In 1980, Miller was recruited to become president of Augat, Inc., a company engaged in the design and manufacturing of a wide range of electromechanical components for the electronics industry, located in Boston, Mass. At the time of his hire, Augat was a single-product company and helped diversify the company through acquisitions. During this time, Miller was an active member with the American Electronics Association (AEA), which lobbied the federal government for a level playing field for the electronics industry.

While at Augat, Miller served on multiple boards of directors, including PowerSoft. During his tenure, PowerSoft went public as part of the dotcom era.

In 1987, Miller left the corporate world and relocated to Camarillo, Calif. to pursue venture start-ups. It was here that he launched two new businesses, the first based on airport runway lights with a longtime friend and business associate, Pete Johnson, that was later sold to Honeywell. The second, Interconnect Systems Inc., specialized in miniaturized electronic packaging and accelerated computing. This company was later sold to Molex, the electronic division of Koch Industries in October of 2016.

After the sale to Molex, Miller continued his role as president for one year before leaving the company.

He is now the CEO of LEDing EDGE Lighting, based in Camarillo.

A celebratory dedication of the Bill (A ’52) and JoAnne Miller Academic Resource Center is in the planning stages.

About Loras College
Founded in 1839, Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. In 2018, Loras was the highest ranked Catholic college in the state of Iowa according to College Consensus, the 13th Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s Top 200 Most Loved Colleges/Universities by Forbes Magazine. Loras students ranked No. 2 in the world as part of the global Peeptrade Investment Challenge while a second group ranked No. 4. For the 10th consecutive year, Loras Media Studies student-led television station (LCTV) was named the TV Station of the Year by the Iowa College Media Association (ICMA).

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