Paul F. Miller, a former chairman of the Penn Board of Trustees and major University donor, spent much of the last half-century at his alma mater in University City.
Miller, who died on Sept. 9 at age 89, remained a red-and-blue-blooded Quaker long after graduating from Wharton in 1950. His legacy as Trustees chair and the driving force behind a $1 billion capital campaign for Penn was memorialized recently in a feature in the Penn Almanac, the University's official record for news and policy updates.
Shortly after joining the Board of Trustees in 1966, Miller founded an investment management firm, Miller Anderson & Sherrerd, which he sold to Morgan Stanley in 1996. He went on to direct several large companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Reliance Insurance and Yarway.
Miller became chair of the Board, which holds fiduciary responsibility for Penn as a nonprofit institution, in 1978. During his tenure, which lasted until 1986, Miller did not shy away from controversy.
While serving as chair, Miller also worked for a time as the director of First Pennsylvania Bank – today, part of Wells Fargo – where Penn's operating accounts were held. Students questioned his participation in both entities with some accusing him of a conflict of interests.
"I don't know how you solve problems of apparent conflict of interest. It's almost impossible to really draw a line between where a conflict becomes one you can tolerate and one you can't tolerate," Miller said in a Undergraduate Assembly forum in 1980.
In recent years, students have made similar accusations of bias against David Roberts, the Committee Chair who considered whether Penn should divest from fossil fuels. Roberts was the managing director of a company with investments in oil and gas companies. (Trustees Chair David Cohen announced the Board's refusal to divest in September 2016. Months later, members of Fossil Free Penn participated in a multi-day sit-in at College Hall to urge the trustees to change course, but the Board maintained its position.)
Miller was an active donor to the University, contributing to Wharton, Penn Athletics and the Paul F. Miller Jr. Scholarship Fund, as well as many other funds. He is most known for co-chairing the Campaign for Penn: Keeping Penn’s Promise in the 1990s, the campaign that raised over $1 billion.
In 1996, he and his wife, Ella Warren Shafer Miller, a 1951 College and Wharton graduate, gave the school $2 million to endow the Ella Warren Shafer Miller Professorship in architecture.
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