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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

July 20, 2012

Former dean’s daughter ensures father’s legacy continues

Leon Miller

Leon Miller

Dr. Leon Miller served Northwest for 35 years and, upon his death, his daughter is ensuring her father’s legacy will continue.

The Leon F. Miller Graduate Grant Award will continue to celebrate the distinguished professor and his impact on Northwest’s graduate programs. The award was established in 1988 by Miller’s daughter, Dr. Carol J. Miller, and his wife, Mary Belle Harmon Miller.

Carol Miller, a Northwest alumna and distinguished professor of business law at Missouri State University, has shared her intentions with Northwest to provide additional gifts during and after her lifetime to the Northwest Foundation, ultimately extending the duration of her father’s named award. A $1,000 grant was provided for 2012-13, and future scholarships of at least $500 will be awarded each year to a graduate student with a minimum 3.3 grade point average. Carol Miller, with her parents, also established  a scholarship for chemistry majors, honoring her late sister, Gayle Miller Bilden, a 1976 Northwest alumna who died in a car accident in 1979.

From 1950 to 1985, Leon Miller was chairman of Northwest’s Division of Education, director of Horace Mann Lab School and dean of instruction. He also was the institution’s first dean of the Graduate School.

President Emeritus Dr. B.D. Owens described Miller as a “towering example of skilled, professional and devoted academic leader on this campus … (and his) continued high academic standards by our students and the faculty have been immeasurable positive influences upon the quality of this University.”

Miller, a major in the U.S. Army in World War II, was a decorated veteran, receiving many honors including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals. He earned his Ph.D. in education from the University of Chicago and was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at Missouri State University for tennis championships. As a Maryville resident for more than 60 years, Miller is remembered for his extensive civic involvement. He was especially active in Hope Lutheran Church, Lions Club (from which he received an International Humanitarian Award for work with the sight, hearing and leadership commissions and as District Governor) and the American Legion (serving on the national Americanism Council, as state oratorical chairman, and locally as commander and Boys State chairman).

“In addition to being a wonderful and loving father, I hope my dad is remembered as a respected,  fair and honest role model, who genuinely cared about the community and who truly enjoyed interacting with people,” Carol Miller said.

The Millers celebrated 65 years of marriage May 5, 2011. Miller passed later that month; his wife suffered a stroke the next day and died in April 2012.

For more information about the Leon F. Miller Graduate Grant Award, the Gayle Miller Bilden Memorial Scholarship and other giving opportunities through the Northwest Foundation, contact Laurie Long at 660.562.1248 or 

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468