Richard Miller

Fellow of the University of Wollongong

Citation orated by Mr Harold Hanson AM

Chancellor, I present Richard Miller.

Richard Miller’s relationship with the University of Wollongong is a product of his deep loyalty to place and his belief in passing on a legacy to future generations. His generosity and vision have changed the prospects of communities, given hope to our students and supported important research.

This region is Richard’s place. In the words of the poet, Judith Wright, it is “part of his blood’s country”. Born here in 1936, he developed a love of the land from his grandfather and his father on their first farm at Jaspers Brush near Berry. The family moved to a dairy farm, “Bridgewater”, in Dapto in 1951 and Richard completed high school at Hurlstone Agricultural High School.

‘Bridgewater’ was at the heart of Richards’ world. For over four decades, he experienced the rewards, challenges and hardships of rural life. Hard work, floods and droughts, however, did not deter him from service to his community. Richard was an active member of the local Rural Fire Service and held leadership roles in the Junior Farmers organisation (later Rural Youth), the Dapto and Albion Park Agricultural and Horticultural Societies and the Rural Rate Payers Association. He was also a member of the South Coast Agricultural Research and Extension Committee.

Richard Miller dedicated his working life to agriculture, one of the Illawarra’s founding industries, but he recognised the potential of education and research to transform the growing region and the lives of its people. He invested in future generations through his partnership with the University of Wollongong. In retirement, he established the John and Belle Miller Family Memorial Fund, named in honour of his hard-working parents, to sponsor students and key research through two important scholarships programs.

Over the last seven years, the Miller Family Bridgewater Equity Scholarships have given 60 students the chance to study and achieve in Engineering, Teaching and Nursing (the vocations and interests of Richard’s father, mother and two sisters). The words of one grateful recipient testify to their real social impact and the value of Richard’s gift: “I live in government housing with my younger sister and my chronically ill mother who raised us by herself. …I can genuinely say that directly because of Richard Miller’s existence and compassion, my life has changed for the better. And not only has my life, but my family’s lives as well. Because of this kind man, I feel supported in my ambitions- and am much more likely to succeed”.

The repercussions of the Miller scholarship have also been felt as far away as Zimbabwe. One student had the opportunity to undertake an international placement at a hospital in Zimbabwe, delivering three babies herself while there. They are a life-changing initiative.

The Miller Family Dementia Research Summer Scholarships are very special to Richard. As the carer for his wife Janet, he came to know first-hand the significant impact the diagnosis of dementia has on a relationship and family. His support has allowed young research students to gain critical knowledge and valuable skills for pursuing work opportunities and research focussed on dementia. The result is improved lives and health outcomes for people with the condition.

Chancellor, Richard Miller is a remarkable man, a community leader and philanthropist. On the farm at Bridgewater, listening to his beloved classical music, he read the future direction of the Illawarra and understood the mission of the University. He remarked: “UOW has contributed more to advancing the diversity and reputation of Wollongong than any other organisation”. Through his generosity of mind and spirit, he has given his region and the University a chance to grow. The words of a scholarship student capture his lasting legacy: “Because of Richard Miller, the world is a better place as his kindness will be paid forward into everything I do”.

Chancellor, it is a great privilege to present Richard Miller for admission as a Fellow of the University of Wollongong.