History professor, scholar to lead Drinko Academy

Marshall University professor and scholar Dr. Montserrat Miller has been named executive director of the university’s John Deaver Drinko Academy, effective Jan. 1, 2018.

She will succeed Dr. Alan B. Gould, who has led the academy since its establishment in 1994.

The academy is dedicated, among other scholarly activities, to strengthening the public’s understanding of American political institutions and the responsibilities of citizens to society, brings visiting scholars and lecturers to campus, and provides faculty stipends to support the work of Drinko Distinguished Fellows to promote their academic scholarship in teaching, research and publication.

The center also sponsors annual events such as the university’s commemoration of Constitution Week and the legacy of U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall, as well as a range of other special academic programs.

“I am most pleased Dr. Miller has assumed the mantle of executive director of the Drinko Academy,” said Gould. “As she commences her new position, I wish her a long and fulfilling career—she deserves it.”

Miller said she is looking forward to her new role.

She added, “I am excited about taking the helm of the Drinko Academy at the first of the year and look forward to working with faculty, students, administrators and community members. John and Elizabeth Drinko established the academy that bears their name at Marshall to recognize and support scholarly achievements, but also to foster programs and activities aimed at supporting and building our local, regional and national civic culture.

“As executive director of the Drinko Academy, I will seek to balance tradition with innovation, continuing the very successful programs established by my predecessor, Dr. Alan Gould, but also pursuing a set of new collaborative relationships with individuals and organizations whose civic commitments are enriching our community.”

She also praised Gould’s integral role in establishing the academy.

“I have been fortunate to have known Dr. Alan Gould virtually all my life and have had the privilege of working on Drinko Academy projects with him since the late 1990s,” she added. “His legacy is tremendous and his shoes will be challenging to fill. The range of projects he has supported, the impact of his programming, and the way in which he utilized the academy as an incubator, to establish entities such as the Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy, are without precedent. I am humbled to follow in his footsteps.”

Miller is a professor of history. She joined Marshall’s faculty in 1996 and after conducting an internal review of the Honors and John Marshall Scholars programs for the Office of the President, she coordinated the university’s celebration of the 200th anniversary of the appointment of John Marshall as chief justice of the United States.

She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in methodology and theory, world history, food history and Spanish history.

Described by her students as “inspirational,” “engaging” and “passionate,” Miller was named the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia Professor of the Year for 2007-08. She also is the recipient of several Marshall teaching awards, including the College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Teacher Award (2005-06 and 2008-09), the Charles E. Hedrick Outstanding Faculty Award (2006-07) and the Pickens-Queen Teaching Award (1998-99). She was named Outstanding Faculty Advisor at Marshall in 1999 and served the university as a Drinko Distinguished Fellow from 1996-99.

Miller’s research focuses on the 19th and 20th century history of small and medium-sized business enterprises, food markets, gender and consumer culture. Her book “Feeding Barcelona 1714-1975:  Public Market Halls, Social Networks, and Consumer Culture” was published in 2015 by Louisiana State University Press. The first detailed history of the economic and social influences that create urban food market systems, the book won the prestigious Phi Alpha Theta First Book Award that same year.

Prior to her appointment at Marshall, Miller was on the faculty at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi from 1994-96. She earned a bachelor’s degree in international affairs in 1983 and a master’s degree in history in 1988, both from Marshall. She went on to earn a second master’s degree in history in 1990 and a Ph.D. in European social history from Carnegie Mellon University in 1994. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct archival research in Barcelona during the 1991-92 academic year.

Miller has a long history of civic engagement, having served as president of the YWCA Board of Directors and founder of the Lucy’s Attic pantry that served working poor and homeless women. More recently, she has been engaged in fundraising for local food initiatives, including the Wild Ramp and Capitol Market. She is a fifth-generation Marshall graduate and granddaughter of Doris C. Miller, a local poet, journalist and genealogist whose papers are held in the university’s Special Collections.

The Drinko Academy is supported through an endowment established by the late Drs. John and Elizabeth Drinko. John Drinko was a 1942 Marshall graduate and senior managing partner of Baker & Hostetler, one of the nation’s largest law firms. The Drinkos were long-time, significant supporters of academic programs at Marshall.