Dr. Patsy Miller, program director of the Western Carolina University Programs at Biltmore Park, has been at Western Carolina since 1984.
Before she came to WCU, Miller originally lived in Ridgefield, Conn., a town that borders the state of New York. Miller described Ridgefield as similar in its appearance to Western North Carolina. However, Miller expressed that the mountains there are not “quite as high,” like the ones here.
Miller attended Cardinal Cushing College in Brookline, Mass. from 1966 to 1968. In 1980, she graduated from Mars Hills College with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and in 1982, she received an MAED in counseling from Western Carolina.
After graduation, Miller helped her parents set up a cooperative pre-school and worked there for about a year as a teacher. Meanwhile, she started attending graduate school part-time.Soon, Miller switched to being a full-time student in graduate school and took a position as a teaching graduate assistant. She taught study skills to freshmen at WCU while completing her degree.
Before she became the program director of the Western Carolina Programs in Asheville, Miller started out working for two years as an educational specialist working with emotionally disturbed children at Smoky Mountain Area Mental Health after she completed graduate school from 1982-1984.
However, Miller desired to work on a college campus. She received a position as Program Coordinator of the Western Carolina University Programs in Asheville. She got the position when some of her professors informed her there was a job with WCU in Asheville and that they thought she fit the position.
“I thought, ‘Wow this job description is written for me,'” Miller said.
In 1998, when the previous program director retired, Miller took on the position of director of the Western Carolina Programs in Asheville.
During her time as program director, Miller has seen many changes in the programs. The programs’ original location was at UNC-Asheville, but they have recently re-located to the Biltmore Park campus Aug. 1 of last year.
In August 2012, she helped facilitate the move to Biltmore Park, consolidating the nursing programs moving from the A-B Tech Enka campus and graduate programs from the UNC-Asheville campus, thus becoming Western Carolina University at Biltmore Park.
Miller considers the programs to be going very well. They currently have 534 students enrolled this semester. In the fall, they will add an undergraduate program in engineering as well as 10,700 square feet to their facility. Their goals for the future include getting involved in the economic development of the community as well as building resources for the community, being a resource for them, and building relationships with community partners or students who do internships.
Miller considers working with the students in the programs as her favorite part of her career.
“It’s a very positive job. The students are coming back to either expand their intellectual abilities or change positions, change careers, rise up in their careers, so it just is so positive. People are trying to make their lives better,” Miller said.
She also expressed that she loves the faculty and everything about WCU as well.
“The people that work for Western, the faculty, and the administration, and the staff are very customer service oriented. They’re very student-oriented,” Miller said.
Outside of work, Miller enjoys reading, gardening and spending time at home and with her friends.
“We built a great house eight years ago in the woods in Cane Creek Valley, and I love to work in the yard, woods and sit by our fire pit with friends,” Miller said.
Miller is also married and has a grown son that lives in Washington, as well as two grandchildren, ages 21 and 19. Miller also has a 97-old-mother who lives in Connecticut. When she is not working, Miller talks on the phone with her family members and pays them visits.