Ray Miller, formerly an audiovisual technician, sculptor’s assistant and Army major, was thrust into a new role this year: life partner of the president of a small, liberal arts college.
Miller was brought to Galesburg last summer when his partner, Knox College President Teresa Amott, assumed her new position. On top of the adjustment moving from the East Coast to the Midwest (where he had never lived before), Miller must adapt to a new life.
On one hand, he said he is considering a new occupation, perhaps in web media or photography. And as if that were not enough to decide, Miller must discern what exactly is expected of a college president’s partner.
“I’ve never been a president’s partner,” he said. “Teresa has never been a president.”
Miller talked about former president, now President Emeritus Roger Taylor ’63, and his wife Anne Taylor ’63, who also served as pro bono counsel for the college.
“They had some time to weave themselves into the fabric of the school,” Miller said. “I’m sure Teresa and I will be there as well, but for the time being, I’m still getting the lay of the land, basically.”
While he is still working out his role in the Knox community, Miller said the social aspect of the job has become clear. As a host at the Ingersoll House, the president’s residence on North Prairie Street, Miller has been cooking for events designed to help Amott get to know students and faculty.
“I’ve been doing all the food, all the wine, all the setup for that. [Dining Services Director] Helmut [Mayer has] got nothing to do with it; it’s all on me,” Miller said. “That’s one of the things that I do, that I know I can do and that I enjoy doing: to support Teresa and the school. …”
nd though he enjoys facilitating that social aspect, he is eager to get into a new occupation. Miller is turning 60 this year, but he said it is not yet the time for him to retire.
Miller, who has been working as an audiovisual technician at Gettysburg College and Hobart and William Smith Colleges for the last 11 years, said his biggest personal adjustment was “not having a completely crazy job … [and] not having to be at a phone, ready to go, all day, all night, weekends and evenings.”
He has translated that adjustment into involvement with the Galesburg community. Miller is an active member of bicycle advocacy group Cyclists for Galesburg, helping to develop its website. He also works with a committee trying to get a statue of Carl Sandburg in the Public Square.
But for now, until he moves into a new occupation, Miller will continue to help Amott do the work he said has made quite a difference at other institutions.
“I’m really excited to see how things are going to change, especially with the ideas Teresa has,” Miller said, pointing specifically to the renovation of Alumni Hall. “I think that’s going to make a big difference. I’ve seen it at other schools.”