Remembering Our Dear Friend Holly Miller, Longtime Supporter of Champlain College

Holly Miller, a dear friend, longtime benefactor, and former Chair of the Board, had an immeasurable impact on the growth of Champlain College, changing lives and empowering countless students.

On Wednesday, September 20, 2023, Mrs. Miller peacefully passed away at the age of 79. She was surrounded by her loving family at the McClure Miller Respite House in Colchester, Vermont.

“We lost a beloved friend and champion,” says President Alex Hernandez. “Holly Miller was a transformational leader for Champlain College who, together with her late husband Robert (Bobby) Miller, made the college more accessible to a broad population of students.”

In 2001, Mrs. Miller was the first woman to be elected Chair of the Champlain College Board of Trustees. She was initially elected to the board in 1992 and during her 15 year tenure, she served on nearly every board committee and chaired a capital campaign. Her tenure on the executive committee spanned 12 years.

From right to left: Robert E. Miller, Holly Miller, and Jared Knepper, ’19 // Management & Innovation, at a fundraising event on campus.

Her fellow board members described her as devoted, generous, warm, and a passionate leader. Upon her retirement from the board, her peers shared:

  • “Holly taught me a lot. She wears her accomplishments lightly and sets an example for others.”
  • “Holly inspires trust, affection, and respect. She is indefatigable, kind, self-effacing and passionate about Champlain and its impact on students. Her gutsiness, humor, and willingness to take on any challenge moved mountains in fundraising.”
  • “She is always ‘in the moment’; fully engaged, thinking broadly, offering constructive input, and a unique perspective.”
  • “She is a role model and example for many.”
  • “I think of her as Champlain’s ‘secret-weapon,’ Champlain’s heart.”

During her tenure as Chair, Champlain launched its first master’s program, an online degree in Managing Innovation and Information Technology. Fast forward to 2023, and Champlain College now boasts an impressive portfolio of over 80 online bachelors, masters and certificate programs.

At Champlain, Mrs. Miller was best known for her success and dedication to fundraising and philanthropy. She and Mr. Miller were fond of the phrase, “If you have one of us, you get both of us.”

Robert and Holly Miller on campus in October 1996. The Millers jointly received Champlain College’s Distinguished Citizen Award in the same year. Photo by Glenn Russell.

The dynamic duo remain one of the single largest lifetime donors to Champlain College. They were advocates for the student experience, raising the bar for Champlain and constantly expanding the College’s prominence in the Vermont community.

When walking around Champlain’s campus, the Millers’ support and investment in Champlain’s growth and innovation is immediately apparent. Two of our most well-known buildings exist due to their generosity. The Robert E. & Holly D. Miller Information Commons was built in 1998, a state-of-the-art library that serves the entire community. The Miller Center at Lakeside was built in 2011 and is home to the Leahy Center for Digital Forensics & Cybersecurity, the Emergent Media Center, and our Esports Facility. The Miller Center positions our college to expand our impact in the South End and support all the innovation surrounding our Lakeside Campus.

The Miller Center at Lakeside is located in the South End of Burlington and houses the Leahy Center for Digital Forensics & Cybersecurity, the Emergent Media Center, and our Esports Facility.

The Millers’ legacy and impact was celebrated in 1995 when together they received the Champlain College Distinguished Citizen Award, and again in 2009 when both Holly and Bobby were conferred Honorary Degrees from Champlain.

“Please join me in taking a moment to honor Holly Miller and share our gratitude for her lasting legacy on Champlain College,” said Hernandez.

A celebration of life for Mrs. Holly Miller will be held on Friday, November 17 at 1:00 PM at UVM’s Davis Center.

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