by Maria Thomas and Josh Grewal, Managing Editor & Staff Writer
Brother Ernest J. Miller, FSC, D. Min., was recently elected the newest member of Manhattan College’s board of trustees, and will specifically serve the academic affairs committee.
The addition of Brother Miller to the board was a decision made through the process of an election, in which other board members voted on the nominee.
Brother Miller is currently serving as the Vice President of Mission, Diversity and Inclusion at La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has worked at the college since 2015, and before his present role, he was the Vice President of Mission. Additionally, during the 2020-2021 academic school year, Brother Miller co-chaired the La Salle Joint Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Prior to his arrival at LaSalle university, Brother Miller spent the majority of his years in Lasallian secondary education. He first graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he received a bachelor’s degree in political science. He then matriculated to George Washington University, where he received an MA in international affairs.
Following his first graduate degree completion, he entered into the brothers. Then, Brother Miller did a masters in liberal studies at Georgetown University. And finally, in 2015 he completed his doctor of ministry degree from the Theological Union in Chicago.
The bylaws of the college’s board of trustees stipulates five seats be held by brothers of Christian schools. When Brother Carlos Gomez left the board to become the new president of a university in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, an FSC seat opened up, and Brother Miller was nominated for the position.
Brother Frank Byrne, another trustee on the board, said he was grateful to have a new individual serving the committee, because it will offer a new outlook and perspective.
“All boards of trustees, whether it’s at a high school or a college or university, have term limits and the reason for that is because you want to get fresh ideas on the board or different views on certain subject areas that would be helpful,” said Brother Byrne.
When he attended his first meeting of the board in October, Brother Miller took an observational approach to learning about his new responsibilities, and how he could best serve the board.
“I think one approach is to arrive and just begin to listen and see, see and listen… I need to learn what some of the burning issues are. I’ve read, but it’s different sitting in meetings and listening to people who are in the college,” said Brother Miller.
Through patience and reflection, Brother Miller quickly became receptive to the needs of the Manhattan College community. Throughout his time on the board thus far, one question has remained prominent:
“How do we keep the Lasallian and Catholic identity and mission vital and vibrant, right? That includes academic excellence,” Brother Miller said.
In discussing goals for the upcoming semester, Brother Miller described two areas in specific that he plans to focus on. The first relates to advertising the achievements and overall successes of Manhattan College in an attempt to build our community even more.
“Despite the fact that Manhattan college is over 160 years old, it’s still, in some spaces, not a well known enemy. Too much of a good kept secret. And so I think the board, in working with the College of administration, needs to continue to find ways to unlock the door to the great mystery,” said Brother Miller.
Secondly, Brother Miller knows that a crucial part of building community in ensuring the inclusivity and diversity of the college.
“Something else that’s on my mind is to continue to make sure that college remains a quality institution on all levels, but also an institution that is accessible. And a college that represents the diverse space of God. I think that’s an important quality as well,” said Brother Miller.
“It’s up to the board to make sure that there’s funding, that there’s resources available, that we’re looking down the road strategically planning to see what’s coming our way so that Manhattan College is best positioned to meet the challenges that are coming at us at all times,” said Brother Byrne.
In addition to the overall goals of the board, Brother Byrne also spoke about how this mission has fluctuated due to the current pandemic.
“The goal for this year, as you can imagine being a student on campus and living there for almost two years now…is to try to get life back to normal as best we can at Manhattan College,” said Brother Byrne.
In his short time on the board, Brother Miller has already had an impact on achieving these goals, and much of the board has welcomed his new perspectives with open arms.
According to a press release from Manhattan College, Brother Miller’s “aim is to deepen the knowledge and understanding of the Lasallian charism and mission for today’s educational and spiritual needs. In addition, Brother Ernest works with students inside and outside the classroom to grasp the long arc of the Lasallian story and vision.”
The next meeting for the board of trustees will take place in the second week of December.