Former UNR president dead at 84
November 14, 2004
RENO – N. Edd Miller, the former president of the University of Nevada, Reno, died Saturday at a Reno care facility, family members said. He was 84.
He died of colon cancer, said his wife, Nena.
In his book “Reinventing the System: Higher Education in Nevada, 1968-2000,” UNR professor emeritus of history Jim Hulse described Miller as a “quiet, methodical leader.”
Hulse said Miller handled crises “with cool dignity” during his years as head of the university from 1965-1973.
“Edd was president during a time of some tension and potential turmoil on campus, and he handled it quite well,” said Hulse, one of Miller’s colleagues and friends. “There was tension over the war and race relations, but he was a peacemaker. He was a gentleman and a gentle man.”
It was a time when the Ohio National Guard fatally shot four students during an antiwar protest at Kent State University, and students were burning buildings or staging sit-ins at other campuses.
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And at UNR, a professor was fired after leading students in a protest in which they had lain down in front of the lieutenant governor’s car during an ROTC event.
“A week or two after that, there was a kind of spontaneous event the students organized that took us all by surprise and was a very moving tribute to Edd’s style,” Hulse recalled.
Miller made national news Oct. 17, 1969, when about 2,000 students staged “N. Edd Miller Day” at the university, which then had a total enrollment of approximately 6,800.
Chanting “We love Edd” and releasing hundreds of balloons, the students ended the celebration by sending Miller and his wife on a paid weekend trip to San Francisco.
“The thing of which he was most proud, other than his family, was the success of his many students,” said Miller’s wife of 62 years, Edwina “Nena” Miller.
During his eight years as UNR’s president, Miller established the Nevada Oral History Program at UNR, and he saw the university through a period of growth.
But he also took an active interest in the rest of the community. He was a member of the Nevada State Council of the Arts and the Reno Rotary Club, and he served on the board of directors of the Boy Scouts of America and the Reno Chamber of Commerce.
In 1973, Miller left Reno to become president of the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham and later became chairman of the communications department at Northern Kentucky University in Covington before retiring.
He and his wife returned to Reno in 1988, where he became a driving force in the arts community and was a recipient of the Governor’s Arts Award for service to the arts.
Miller was a member of the board of directors for the Sierra Arts Foundation and the Reno Pops Orchestra. He also became the founding president of the Lear Theater Coalition.
Born in Houston, Newton Edd Miller disliked his first name and preferred to go by N. Edd Miller, his wife said.
In addition to his widow, survivors include son, Kenneth Miller, of San Gabriel, Calif.; daughter, Cathy Berkley, of Santa Fe, N.M.; four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
A private funeral is planned, and there will be no visitation, family members said, adding a public memorial service will be held Nov. 21 at 2:30 p.m. in the Jot Travis Student Union on the UNR campus.