Remembering Michele R. Miller
Michele Miller, our beloved Dean of Students, passed away on Saturday, Aug. 27, a few days after taking seriously ill at her home. She was surrounded by family and loved ones.
Michele Miller graduated from Wayne Law in 1986, and returned to the Law School a year later. Since that time she has served in a number of capacities, and for over a decade as Dean of Students. At all times she placed the welfare of our students first. To generations of Wayne Law students (many of whom are now practitioners and judges), Michele was their law school "mom." She was a reliable and caring source of advice for students, faculty, and administrative staff. Michele was also active in the bar and community, where she was widely respected and admired. Her passing is a great loss personally, to the institution, and to the broader community.
Cards and messages of condolence can be sent to the Law School, in care of the Dean of Students Office at 471 West Palmer Street, Detroit, MI 48202.
A memorial service was held on campus on Friday, September 2, 2011 where we celebrated Dean Miller's life and legacy.
The Miller family asks that anyone wishing to make a contribution do so to Wayne Law in memory of Dean Michele R. Miller. These funds will be directed to a new Michele R. Miller memorial fund that is being established to support and enrich academic support programs. Contact the Wayne Law Office of Development and Alumni Relations at (313) 577-3113 or email@example.com for more information on how to support this fund.
Robert M. Ackerman, Dean and Professor of Law
The Wayne Law community remembers Dean Miller
The family of Dean Michele R. Miller wishes to extend our heartfelt appreciation for the tremendous outpouring of concern and affection that has been extended to honor Michele.
Perhaps you sent a lovely card, or sat quietly in a chair.
Perhaps you sent a floral piece, if so, we saw it there.
Perhaps you spoke the kindest words, as any friend could say.
Perhaps you were not there at all, just thought of us that day.
Whatever you did to console our hearts, we thank you so much whatever the part.
“It has taken me some time to find the words. The last time I saw you, perched on a chair in your “lobby office” was the first time I rushed by without waiting to say goodbye. I was so used to sharing our time with students who have “one quick question” or wanted to stop and thank you for putting out a fire, I never expected to have you all to myself. So, it’s no surprise that on that day, someone else held your attention. But I did not want to wait, so selfishly, I rushed out the door not knowing it would have been our last conversation. What would we have shared? You would have asked about “your babies” and reminded me to kiss them for you. I would have given you an update on my latest debate/argument/experience with a public school official and then we would have talked about the sad state of public education in Michigan, all the children being left behind and a parent’s constant (seemingly impossible) quest to find a quality education. I might have reminded you to bring your notary stamp or asked you to proofread another lawyer-letter I was working on for a family member of friend. Then we might have traded stories—a “you won’t believe what so-and-so said or did” moment. We would have laughed or we would have nodded our heads in disappointment. I don’t know what I would have said if someone told me it would be the last time I saw your face curl up into that smirky smile or watched you throw your head back as you belted out a laugh. That laugh. I do know that I would have lingered a little longer, maybe taken note of how exhausted you looked and asked you if you were feeling okay enough to drive home. But I didn’t. I can’t go back. And I wish…I had waited just a little longer. I wish you had waited, just a little longer before saying goodbye. But you needed your rest and since we probably never would have given it to you, you decided to take it. I always wanted to see you put yourself first, despite the constant demands from students, faculty, and staff—those of us who leaned on you, perhaps a little too long. So rest. I’ll keep fighting the public school officials, I’ll keep kissing “your babies” and I’ll keep laughing and remembering all that we shared. Perhaps in losing you, we might all gain some of you by pulling together to put out fires; finding answers to the “one quick questions” and trying our best to be unselfish and to stop rushing by without saying goodbye. Perhaps we could all learn to wait around and chat with the evening students who sorely miss your face. We might all find time to linger in the lobby just in case somebody needs to be reminded we are here—for them, for each other. What an incredible opportunity you left us; I hope we don’t squander it. You are always in my thoughts. You always said law was a 2nd career, but I’m not sure you ever stopped being a teacher, a supporter, a cheerleader, a lifter of heads. You set quite an example; you taught me so much without my ever knowing (like a good teacher would) and while we both wear size 11 shoes, no one will ever truly fill the ones you left behind. So sleep, my sweet sister-mentor-friend and no matter what you say or think, I will never just call you Michele J. You were and always will be my, our beloved Dean Miller.” - Love always, Felicia Thomas
"On the first day of orientation, I felt a little silly because, without thinking about it too much, I wore my 'People for the Ethical Treatment of Zombies' t-shirt. Dean Miller saw from a distance and beckoned me over to her. She read the shirt and laughed, telling me that she liked it. She then gave me her card and introduced herself, and she cared enough to remember who I was later on when we saw each other again. This was by far the coolest introduction to an administrator that I have had in my entire life. I called my mom later that day and told her the story and was very excited about being at a law school with such a warm person. I am terribly sad that I will not get to know her. I also want you to know that I prayed for the first time in years when I found out that she was ill. It may seem odd to some that I wept for someone I had only known for such a short time, but that just goes to show what a clearly wonderful and kind person she was. I can't imagine how painful this time must be for those who really got to know her and have worked with her closely over the years." - Judy Bohr
"I was so saddened to hear of Michele Miller's passing. Upon entering law school in 1988, I was an older student with 2 children and one to be born in March 1989. Six months later my eldest son had a kidney transplant. Through all these events, Michele was always there to lend an encouraging word and support through very challenging times. When we would see each other occasionally over the years, she always greeted me with a big smile and an ever positive outlook. We have lost a kind and caring presence in this world. She will be missed." - Anna Maiuri
"My condolences to Dean Miller's family. A great woman who unconditionally did whatever she could to help students get through. She was like a second mom to many of us. Despite having graduated from law school many years before, whenever I saw her she remembered me like it was yesterday. She will never be forgotten. God Bless this great woman." - Lionel Anderson
"Farewell to Our Queen! How very appropriate that Michele loved the color purple (royalty) as she sat a queen for so many who loved her. I will always remember the words you said to me (some seven or more years ago): 'You know you are.' You said those four words in response to something I said to you: 'people say I'm good at what I do, Dean Miller.' And then you uttered those words and they have proven a source of encouragement to me from that day forward. In hindsight, those are my words to you, 'You Are.' And even though we may have had the inkling that this day might very well come in view of what we knew the situation to be, still in all, it's never acceptable to face this 'enemy' and we look forward to the time: 'As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing.'--(1 Corinthians 15:26) And so we await the day soon to come when, as promised: 'he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.'--(Revelation 21:4) Until then, I will have no one to speak to about Aretha Franklin as I would with Dean Miller a couple times when ReRe herself became ill; I have no one, at present, to carry her totebags (as others have done) to her office so she can rest and catch her breath -- a breath steadily fading away from her that she could no longer 'catch'; no one else who had so wildly a display of Altoids at her desk (which I always thought was her way of saying, I got you covered, talk to me -- and feel refreshed!) Oh yes, you will most certainly be missed, for you were, and are, so loved, our dear, dear Michele. Your last days were spent doing what you did best -- being there for our students! The Law School was better for it -- what are we going to do now." - Love, Olive A. Hyman
"Dean Miller: It was like yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking with you and discussing my future. Never did I suspect that my 'Law School Mom' would depart like this! As a matter of fact I looked forward to competing with you over a game of Angry Birds, which I know you enjoyed so much. As always, when I visited your office, your warm voice reassured me that the outlook of my future as an attorney was bright, and I believed you! If not for you I probably wouldn't be here today. You have and will always remain an extension of family to me and to many of my fellow classmates. I am so overwhelmed and deeply impacted by, what I consider, the tragic loss of someone so special to the student body of WSU Law School! If not for your constant words of encouragement and support, GOD knows where I would be. You truly were an AMAZING woman, humanitarian, and friend. I know you will forever shine down on me and the WSU Law family. Thank you for everything you have done. On behalf of myself and others, we love you! Rest in peace." - With Love and Compassion, Lorenzo Parker, Class of 2013
"Dean Miller was a Wayne State University angel, for me, she went far beyond the call of duty in assisting me in my transition from one law school to WSU
. Transferring from one law school to another can be very challenging, Dean Miller made this process seamless. She provided me with her office number and her home information, to ensure that I always had access to her. You will be missed Dean Miller." - Trevis
"I would like to begin by saying that my thoughts and most heartfelt condolences are with Dean Miller's daughter, her sisters, and the rest of her family and friends. Thanks to Aisa and Eric Berg, the Moot Court program, and working as a student assistant in the Career Services office, I had the honor of getting to spend time with Dean Miller. Having gone through undergraduate and graduate school prior to coming to Wayne Law, I never met an administrator with such an open heart and giving soul. It did not matter if it was her 'job,' if you went to her with an issue she would 'take care of it.' Dean Miller always managed to make me feel like a human again after our many talks, and she reminded me that my humanity and staying true to myself were the important things, not my ability to remember rules of law, argue, remember terms of art, or write briefs. She had more faith in me that I had in myself, which is a sentiment I know other students share. I am thankful I for the last conversation I had with her. I said, 'Dean Miller, I love you. I don't know what I would do without you. I don't know how you put up with me.' Dean Miller responded, 'I love you, too, Sarah. And it isn't hard to put up with you.' Dean Miller was a rock, a light, and a haven for all of us. While most people do not think of it as such, the legal profession is one of counseling and service to others. Dean Miller exemplified those aspects of the legal profession to everyone who walked through Wayne Law's doors. To close, I would like to quote Dr. Seuss, who once said 'Do not cry because it is over, smile because it happened.' With that in mind, I hope the Wayne Law community can smile through the tears because we had the chance to have someone of Dean Miller's magnitude in our lives. I plan keeping her spirit alive by incorporating her care and devotion to others and her willingness to be a true counselor in my practice as a lawyer and in my daily life." - Sarah Barbantini
"I’m speechless. All I can say is she was my Law School 'Mom.' A Shoulder to Lean On, A Listening Ear, A Colleague. We Love You Dean." - Lee V. Martin, Class of 1999
"When I learned of Michele's passing, it felt like I had lost my sister. I was one of the older students who chose law as a second, or maybe even a third career, entering law school at 39 and Dean Miller was the first administrator I met after being welcomed by Dean Sims. We quickly grew attached not just because I was old, but because I enjoyed her quick wit, sprinkled with just the right mix of humor and sarcasm, combined with her special and irreplaceable ability to make a student feel like they were the ONLY student enrolled in law school. I was impressed during my studies at WSU
Law how Michele managed to remember everybody's name. I am now amazed how special this gift was when my associate (who broke the news to me), told me that Michele also remembered her upon a return visit to the campus. This made me stop and think that not only did Michele have the ability to identify each currently enrolled student, but a new crop of future lawyers walks in every 12 months...and she remembers...BECAUSE SHE CARES. Her impact was significant. Most people return to a school to visit their favorite former teacher(s). I returned to the law school specifically to see her. An administrator. Who does that? When my associate (who graduated NINE YEARS after me) shared that she did the same thing, I smiled knowing that Michele was still doing her thing. I frowned because all this time, I thought I was the only one. The professors changed our careers by changing our minds. Michele changed our lives by changing our hearts. God bless Michele Miller. God be with Michele's family. God keep all of us, because we all loved Dean Michele Miller." - Cliff Woodards II, Class of 2001
"Such sad news… Dean Miller was very understanding and supportive. She definitely added to my law school experience and helped make it a positive one. Rest in peace, Dean Miller, you will be missed." - J.M. Symanns, ’06
"Dean Miller was the first person I got to know at Wayne Law; a statement true for hundreds of other Wayne law students and grads. Despite hearing the same complaints, fears, and successes every year for 25 years she still listened with patience and offered her wisdom with an Altoid. Her support and encouragement were instrumental in my successful graduation. Sometimes, however, her support was behind the scenes. When Ricardo asked Dean Miller 'who is this guy dating my sister?' she put in a good word for me. Over the next three years we shared countless coffees and conversations. She laughed at my jokes. In return I carried her purple purse to her car. I introduced her to Angry Birds – which she came to love! Her office was a welcome break from watching bar review lectures. What made her special is that hundreds of people have the same story I do. She was treasured by her students, colleagues, friends, and family. She touched many lives. Her passing brought grief but so too it brought back a flood of happy memories for all those who called her teacher, mentor, or friend." - Eric Berg, '11
"I am so sorry to hear about this. Dean Miller was always so helpful, kind and supportive." - Francis Grunow
"When I was a law student (aged 53 to 57 years), Michele Miller and I shared many happy moments. She had a great sense of humor. I will miss her a lot." - Ralph Blasier
"Dean Miller was a very sweet and great person. She really treated me like a person - a vast difference from most people in the legal profession with their pomp & high mindedness - With no great prompting she testified on my behalf at my State of Michigan Character & Fitness Hearing - through her testimony I was allowed to get my Michigan Law License - I am praying for the family & Wayne State Law University for your comfort in this difficult time." - Carl C. Wilson Jr., '92
"This was such devastating news. I was pregnant during my second semester of school and went into labor 15 weeks early. I was in the hospital for much of the summer term. Dean Miller arranged for me to get my assignments and to take finals in the early fall after recovering from (safe) delivery. She took a huge weight off of my shoulders during a very scary time. She did much more to support me during my time at Wayne Law and always gave special attention to my son when he was toddling around the law school. It's amazing to think that what she did for me, she did for so many others, truly going above and beyond in her position. My thoughts are with her family." - Amanda Rosman, '07
"I started law school with a toddler and she doted on Lilah from day one. Lilah loved her -- and to be adored by a child says it all. Dean Miller NEVER failed to ask about my daughter first, before anything else. I'll never forgot driving to my very, very last day of law school, and realizing that I absolutely had to bring Dean Miller flowers -- because she was such a wonderful woman. Not knowing where else to go, I found a flower wholesaler at Eastern Market and put together a bouquet. Looking back, I'm so glad that day I thought, 'To heck with being too busy to do this for her... she ALWAYS had time for me.'" - Liane K., Class of 2005
"Dean Miller was a mensch. I graduated eight years ago and I still think about and appreciate how much she helped me when I was in need of assistance (more than once). She seemed genuinely happy that she could help, which was almost as important as the help she gave me." - David Michael
"I wanted to express my sadness regarding the passing of Michele R. Miller. Ms. Miller was such a down to earth and personable Dean. I recall a time where I felt extremely disheartened due to some challenges in a law class. Ms. Miller's kind encouragement and stories of her own challenges were so reassuring. I was fortunate to have known her. My deepest respects to her family." - Best Regards, Jessica Holman, Class of 2009
"Dean Miller was indeed very caring and passionate about helping students excel. She always took time to answer my questions and encourage me. She always had a smile on her face, despite her health issues, that washed away my worries and lit up my hectic days at school. I will never forget holding her hand and walking up to the bench at a special session of the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to receive an award for excellence in Evidence. Her face was radiant with pride! Those few steps while holding her hand somehow felt as if she was taking me to the destination to which she had guided me all along. It felt as though she was there to ensure that her student finished the journey. That walk is therefore as memorable to me, without exaggeration, as the walk on the moon may be to Neil Armstrong. I loved Dean Miller dearly and always inquired about her health when I saw her or called the school. I am deeply saddened by her demise. Students have lost a devoted advisor, and the law school has lost its light house! May her soul rest in peace, and may her family find the strength and support to bear her loss." - Hemant Keskar, Class of 2007
"As I've told many people many times, I would not have finished law school without the patient assistance and unwavering support of Dean Michele Miller. When I walked into her office, wondering how I was going to resolve this problem or that problem, Dean Miller's warmth filled the entire room, and I was immediately put at ease. Few people are as kind and caring as Dean Miller. My life has been forever touched by all she did to help me, and I will always be left with the inspiration she left me to help others." - Tom Daugherty, Class of 2007
"Dean Miller was always ready with words of wisdom, and they often were accompanied with her quick wit. She was so strong and confident, and a friend to all. Some of the very best experiences I had at Wayne were spent in her office, talking through an issue or just for a quick chat, as if she had all of the time in the world to spend with me. She was a very giving person, brimming with compassion -- she will be missed by many and treasured by all who had the good fortune of knowing her. Truly a terrible loss. My condolences to her family, friends and the Wayne Law Community." - Angela Davison
"Dean Michele Rosanne Miller, I will never, ever forget you. But memories can lose their shine, so allow me to write my fondest recollections at their clearest. You found a kindred spirit in my husband: Eric probably spent more time sitting in your office discussing Angry Birds strategies, coffee-relaxing, and exchanging teaching stories than he did in class. I'm lucky to have found him, and he was lucky to find you, for all of the guidance and support you have given him/me/us . . . and also, lucky because when we started dating, you helped Eric win over my big bro! No school day seemed complete without stopping by your office, even for a quick chat or venting session. You listened to me and never judged, with perhaps the exception of a well-timed joke to bring humor to a somber situation. You even satisfied those 'I express my anxiety through my hands' students (ME!) by placing comforting knick knacks and magnetic desk accessories at our temporary disposal. The magnetic butterflies were the best, although I am pretty sure I made a castle of Altoids once. The last time I talked with you, you were in the midst of packing. You were excited to move back to your old digs on the first floor, and I joked that for the first time, my anxious hands would have nothing to poke at or build. You assured me that the desk trinkets would return soon, and that in addition, we would be even closer to our favorite food cart meal (the quinoa, hummus, and pita chip assortment.) When Eric and I returned to school yesterday and visited the third floor, your things were still all wrapped up, awaiting their relocation in time for the new year to begin. Looking at the piles of crates and bubble-wrap, I kept repeating to myself, 'You have moved, but you have not left.' You will never leave Wayne Law because you are everything that we as students, as practitioners, and as mentors strive to be. You live on in our acts of love, in serving and educating without judgment or promise of reward. I love you, and I know that you are at peace. No need to walk -- you can fly with those angel wings. PS, There is still a seat for you at our wedding reception. There will be table knick knacks and butterflies, so please don't miss it.:)" - Aisa Villarosa Berg, '11
"I entered law school in 2000 and I was not the traditional student. Suffice it to say that I had graduated from undergrad in 198*. Dean Miller was such a source of encouragement and she always had advice on how to find needed resources. I had more financial obligations than most considering I had entered law school as a mature adult. I spent more time in her office crying the blues and although she gave me that 'get over it look,' lol, she always took the time to listen and help. She will be missed. I'm really sad for those who are attending the law school now who will not experience that loving and caring spirit that she had for all the students." - Chandra W. Baker
"Michelle will be sorely missed. As an adjunct professor at Wayne I grew to know Michelle's humor, dedication and compassion. I am out of state hiking this week but will reflect on her life and numerous contributions to the Wayne community as I do. What a loss." - Tim Connors
"I know Dean Miller was an essential part of student's lives here at Wayne Law. What many students don't know was that she filled that capacity for the staff as well. The opportunity to not always be 'professional' in her presence was like an oasis. I could be myself; flawed, sarcastic and sometimes bewildered at the world of academia. She knew and understood because she had been down the same roads. She had the rare ability to listen and understand. She was the outlet for the inevitable frustrations that life throws at us. I feel not for those who knew her, but those students and staff who are yet to come that hadn't the chance to sit by her desk, pour out their hearts, play with a knick-knack and feel lifted. She is sorely missed." - Holly Hughes
"I would not be an attorney today if not for Dean Miller. I entered law school with a wife, and 2 1/2 year old toddler and a 6 week-old baby. I was the main breadwinner in my household, and I just took a leave of absence to go to law school full-time. When the reality of what I did hit me, I thought about whether I would be able to keep my family afloat after our savings ran out, and still pay tuition. I thought about dropping out, or going to the part-time evening program. Dean Miller sat me down, and helped me find scholarship money so that I could stay in school and still provide for my family. The next year, when I was going through a divorce, and thinking about leaving school to take care of my kids, Dean Miller was my sounding board, and encouraged me to stay the course through that difficult time. She loved children, and whenever I brought mine around she always had treats for them, and loved to hear their jokes and stories about their activities. Dean Miller treated me and mine like members of her family, and I will be forever grateful for her friendship and guidance. She is and will be loved and missed." - Kuryakin C. Rucker, '06
"Dean Miller, I wish I would have had the opportunity to spend more time with you. It is obvious from the tributes that you did so much for so many students and their families. You will be missed! Rest in Peace." - Kathleen Howard
"I was at a meeting for adjunct professors just last August 23, 2011, and Dean Miller was there. I can’t believe that less than a week later she is gone. I remember thinking, as Dean Miller contributed to that meeting, that she was a wealth of knowledge about the law school. Dean Miller’s love of the law school and law students was obvious, and the most lasting tribute to her would be to realize your own personal potential and to find a way to pass her special kindness and wisdom forward." - Marian Faupel, Adjunct Professor
"To the Family, Loved Ones, and Friends of Dean Michele Miller and the Wayne Law Family: Words cannot express my heavy heart in the passing of my 'other mother' Dean Michele Miller. From the time I arrived at Wayne Law in the Fall of 2008, she was and will continue to be a constant presence in my life and all of us that remain to sow her seeds of love, caring, and compassion. Dean Miller knew all of us and exactly what we needed...whether is was a friendly reminder that no matter how hard the 'grade lumps' may be, we will still make it through this experience called law school, or as in my case reminders that we are always here to lend a helping hand to those in need no matter how busy you are because your life would be enriched by service to others. It will be difficult to walk in as a evening student knowing as many of my colleagues have expressed not seeing her sitting in the lobby welcoming us to another day on our 'second job' but we know that her regal spirit will always be with us. Tears flow from my face as I write this but I know that you are at rest now...'I sing because I am happy...I sing because I am free...His eye is on the sparrow and I know her watches over you.' Rest well Dean Miller-you watched over us for so many things and we are forever grateful that you touched our lives." - Kimberly M. Adams, '13
"Although an LLM
student, Dean Miller was my main source of advice and guidance. She had the unique ability to transcend the student/dean relationship and transform it into a truly family relationship. After graduation in 2010, I remember as it was yesterday, sitting down with Dean Miller and talking about the Bar exam and next steps... She was exceptionally knowledgeable, and uniquely kind. I am proud to have known her, I am proud to have come to her office several times with worries and walked out with smile. She was one of the main ingredients that made my Wayne Law experience unforgettable; she will deeply be missed. YOU MEANINGFULLY LIVED YOUR LIFE, NOW DO REST IN PEACE DEAN MILLER, YOU WILL FOREVER REMAIN ONE OF THE MOST INSPIRING PEOPLE I'VE EVER KNOWN." - Zachee Pouga
"Dean Miller was the essence of goodness. There is no doubt that not only the Wayne State Law School and it students but the world is a better place because of her presence. She leaves a phenomenal legacy of 'paying it forward.' I have no doubt that she has joined the heavenly band of angels. It is my prayer that the many who benefitted from her love, direction and kindness follow her example and provide to others what she provided to them. Rest in Peace, Dean Miller, from a job well done!!" - Kaye Patten Wallace
"I think the phrase 'Law School Mom' pretty much sums it up. I can't imagine law school without Dean Miller. She was such a blessing to my life. She looked out for me from the first day of law school. Who else can say that their dean volunteered to babysit their children while they were in class? :) Dean Miller made sure that I had enough scholarship money to pay tuition, personal bills (including a blown engine), and making sure the school paid my NBLSA expenses. (Believe me there were a ton of them!) Dean Miller was an inspiration and a constant source of encouragement. She will definitely be missed! 'By and by when the morning comes, all the saints of God will be gathering home. We will tell the story how we overcome and we'll understand it better by and by!' Rest in Peace Dean Miller!" - Brandon Davis
"Dean Miller, I couldn't begin to describe how sorely you will be missed, not just by me, but by the entire Wayne Law Community. Thank you for all of the help you've provided me over the years." - Tom Smith
"As I had recently spoken with Dean Miller a few weeks ago, I am completely shocked and saddened by the recent passing of our beloved Dean of Students; it is hard for me to really state the type of loss I feel from her passing. Dean Miller was definitely my 'MOM' away from home, and she was instrumental in my ultimate success at Wayne State's School of Law. Her numerous weeks of encouragement and sage advice proved to be invaluable for me throughout my matriculation through law school. Any class in which she presided had to be touched by her compassion and sincere desire for you to graduate with your juris doctor. She will be deeply missed by all, an irreplaceable icon of administrative leadership. I know I can speak for my friends and colleagues when I say we all love you and miss you." - Josef Funchess, '97
"Law school is full of uncertainty. But when you came to talk to Dean Miller about it, you always left her office feeling comforted. She always knew your name, and she always treated you like a long lost friend, not just a faceless student. God bless you, Dean Miller." - Andrea, '09
"I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Dean Miller. Words can’t express the impact she had on me and my success in law school and later in my career. I remember her words of advice and encouragement like it was yesterday and they still continue to guide me. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to her daughter and family." - Kimberly (Jones) Williams, Class of 1996
"I honestly cannot think of WSU
Law without thinking of Dean Miller, or 'Deanie' as I fondly called her. Deanie helped me be a better student, attorney and individual. Her words of advice were full of wisdom and, at times, tough love. She assisted me in the navigation of law school, interviews and bar exam preparation. She later assisted me with my bar activities and shared tips on how to navigate the world of law firm practice. She always had the right answer for whatever question(s) I threw at her via e-mail, telephone or impromptu office appearances. She was my sounding board, confidante and mentor. With all of my heart I can truly say that Dean Michele 'Deanie' Miller left an indelible and positive mark on WSU
Law (students, faculty and staff). Though I will miss calling or visiting my Purple Diva at WSU
Law, I am confident that she is still watching closely to ensure that all goes as it should. Thank you and rest in peace, Deanie." - Sherry D. O’Neal Taylor, Class of 2001
"Dean Miller graduated the year before me. Many many years passed between the last time I saw her and friended her on Facebook a few months ago. Although we were out of touch for some time, I have always remembered Michele as a kind and generous person. She was a little older than some of us and, therefore, much wiser in many ways. She was very much a mentor to me and, I'm sure, many of our other classmates. I remember thinking that she was the perfect candidate for Dean of Students - students needing compassion and care much more than the Socratic method. When I heard of her illness and passing from another friend/classmate, I caught my breath with shock and sadness. As I shared the information with yet another friend and classmate who had known her since childhood and was even more shocked and saddened than I, my primary thought was that I was very glad she had loved ones with her at the end - people who appreciated and cared for her. Now, as I read the messages about her, I'm even happier that she is remembered so fondly by so many." - Stacey M. Washington
"I remember walking around Wayne Law for the first time after getting my paperwork from the Admissions office. A lady with a kind smile in head-to-toe purple beckoned me over and introduced herself to my Mom and I. She then warned that I will be seeing her again. I remember thinking that it was doubtful as I had no intention of ever getting into trouble and being sent to the her office. But Dean Miller was right, I saw her regularly and willingly. She never forgot my name and always asked about my Mom. Dean Miller was the heart and soul of that school. She was kind, supportive, intelligent, patient, generous and funny. I would not be where I am today if it were not for Dean Miller. I ran to her office to share my great news when I heard I got a coveted summer position at a prestigious law firm. I asked for her guidance when I established a student organization. I knocked on her door whenever my organizations had a bake-sale or luncheon because I knew I could count on her generosity. She helped me get funding to attend conferences in D.C. During one of those conferences, I was buying souvenirs when I saw a President Obama Altoids and I knew I had to get one for her office and one for my Mom. Most of the time, I would just pop my head into her office to say hi but she always invited me to sit and chat and I always left with a smile. Even after graduation, Dean Miller always made time for me. When I went to tell her I passed the Bar, she said she never doubted it. Her belief in my success meant the world to me. While this is a great loss to her family, friends and Wayne Law community, it is a greater loss to those people that will never be blessed with the opportunity of knowing her and being in her circle of love. I can only strive to be as great a person as Dean Miller was by inspiring and helping others so that I can make a difference in at least one person's life and pass on her legacy. I just wish I had hugged her a little tighter and a little longer the last time I saw her. I already miss her. God bless you, Dean Miller. And God bless her family, thank you for sharing her with us." - Sonia A. Salah, Class of 2010
"As a first year law student with a disability, I can remember being scared every day because I couldn't think of a plausible scenario where I could meet the demands of law school enough to actually finish. Yet somehow, Dean Miller always found a way to accommodate the guy in the wheelchair enough to make him keep trying. (And she always let me steal a candy from one of the tins on her desk too!) I can honestly say, I would not have finished one semester of law school, let alone my entire degree without her. She was one of those people whose kindness and understanding were so absolute, there were times I couldn't believe she was a real person. She will always be my law school Mom and WSU
Law has lost a truly great woman today." - Andy Maurer '08
"Michele Miller was absolutely consistent in her devotion to our students’ well-being. In this past year when we met with students who filed for readmission, that devotion was very evident in the way she talked to the students and advised them on how to succeed going forward. I am sure that our students will sorely miss the nurturing guidance she offered." Professor Linda M. Beale
"I was shocked and saddened to the hear the news that Dean Miller had recently passed. Throughout my law school career, and in the 6 years since then, she has been a source of guidance in helping me achieve my professional goals. Since entering law school, I knew I wanted go to into the public sector, and 9 years later I am still very passionate about this. Dean Miller was very supportive when a couple of friends and I founded the Public Interest Law Association, and she was there to help me apply for several public interest scholarships throughout the years as well. Although I am moving across the country in several weeks, I have a position lined up with another nonprofit and will continue to serve in the public sector. I can't imagine ever doing anything but working for my community, and Dean Miller was a strong factor in making sure I never lost sight on what I had set out to do. My deepest sympathies to Dean Miller's family and loved ones. She will be truly missed." - Nicole E. Rappaport
"In 1994 I was offered the opportunity to become the Dean of Students at the Detroit College of Law, now known as Michigan State University College of Law. Accepting this offer was more than a mere job opportunity. It was also a change in career from banking to academia, which made my decision twice as difficult to make. So, I thought that I would seek the advice of my high school classmate, Michele Miller. My reason for inquiring with Michele regarding such an important decision was twofold. First, I knew that Michele had been faced with a similar decision when she decided to leave private practice to become the Dean of Students at Wayne State University. Second, whenever I would encounter a Wayne law student or recent graduate, they would always talk about Dean Miller and the positive impact that she had on their lives as law students. So I knew that Michele would be the perfect person to assist me with deciding whether to accept the position; and I was correct. I cannot remember if I ever said it directly to Michele, but after accepting the position it was my goal to become the 'Dean Miller' at the Detroit College of Law. So to my high school classmate and colleague, I say thank you for allowing me to be a part of your legacy." - Connell Alsup
"Dean Sims introduced me to Dean Miller when I was a prospective student applying to law school. I fondly remember Dean Miller’s warm, welcoming, engaging yet straightforward personality, which calmed my LSAT and application anxieties. In fact, she was the final influential factor on my decision to attend Wayne Law. That was the first of many, many visits to her office, where we were either cracking jokes or she was handing me Kleenex. She was my advisor, my mentor, my 'mom' and my friend. She advised me how to handle exams, how to manage law students as BLSA president who did not want to be managed, how to balance family life and so much more. When the home my husband and I purchased wasn’t built on schedule and we didn’t know where to turn, Dean Miller gave me the keys to her home. When I became pregnant during my third year and was hospitalized for an uncommon disorder, Dean Miller was my saving grace. Although I was overcome with fear and frustration and believed I couldn’t finish the year, Dean Miller was by my side. She notified my professors, encouraged me to keep my head up, fitted me in a men’s graduation gown to accommodate my expanded belly and reminded me that this too shall pass. When I was worried about how to study for the bar exam with a newborn, I remember Dean Miller telling me the bar exam isn’t going anywhere and to enjoy the precious time with my son. As usual, she was right. God bless Dean Miller. God comfort her family. And God be with all of us as we grieve for this remarkable woman, who we miss terribly." - Naomi N. Oglesby, ‘05
"Thinking of Dean Miller I recall her incredible warmth and special brand of encouragement. There were many tough days during my time at Wayne but Dean Miller helped me get through them all. When I studying for the Bar exam and wanted to quit it was Dean Miller that gave me a kick in the pants and all the support I needed to help me reach the finish line. She is already missed. I swear I have just 'one quick question' to ask (lol). My thoughts and prayers are with her loved ones during this difficult time." - Tere M. McKinney, 07
"Gosh, what to say that hasn't already been said? As with so many others, she was my law school mom, and she was full of kindness, wisdom, compassion, generosity, and warmth, as all good mothers are. She really cared about people and helped SO many. I only hope that I let her know how much I loved and appreciated her. I worked in her office for most of my time at Wayne Law, so I can particularly speak to what a gem of a person she was. ('was.' wow...) One Friday, I'd brought my then 7-year-old son to school with me and we were in the Student/?Supportive Services Office for whatever reason (it was a place to rest and feel safe as well as whatever official purpose was advertised as its function) and my son was whining and begging for pizza. Times were lean so I had to decline. Dean Miller heard all of the commotion, came out of her office and pressed a $10 bill into his hand and told him to 'go wild' at Little Caesars. He rushed into her arms and gave her the biggest hug ever. My eyes are welling up again as I recall this, but this is a small example of the beautiful kindnesses that she displayed on a regular basis. Truly a good, good person -- I'll be satisfied to touch half as many lives if I live twice as long. Rest in peace, (as Sherry said so aptly) my 'Purple Diva.' Thank you for all of your help, your support, and for sharing yourself with us - I am a better person for having known you. You will never be forgotten." - Joy Hayes Vick, '02
“Without Dean Miller I may have had to drop out of law school, she will be missed.” - Brandon Fournier
"Many know her as Dean Miller but I knew her as Michelle, a fellow classmate at Wayne State Law School. We started law school together and as minority students, we were a close knit group of students. We studied together, sometimes cried together, had good times together and became lawyers together. Always in her beloved purple, Michelle was beautiful inside and out. I was so please to hear when she was selected as Dean of Students because I knew that she would not only be an asset to the law school but to the student body as well. This is quite evident in light of all the testimonies presented here. My thoughts and prayers are extended to her family, her colleagues and the entire WSU
Law School community." - Honorable Patricia L. Jefferson
"I was so saddened to hear the news of Dean Miller’s passing. She was sincerely dedicated to assisting students with what they needed to be successful in law school and beyond. She offered great advice to me when I needed it and she was always willing to 'just listen.' I remember coming to her office to just hang out between classes and it always felt like home. She was a great asset to the law school and to many lawyers in the community, thank you Dean Miller; job well done." - Marcileen C. Pruitt, ’99
"As I write this I have to choke back my tears. I worked for Dean Miller as her student assistant for two years and then her secretary for 5 years. During that time she was instrumental in helping me prepare for the LSAT, gain acceptance to the law school, land a summer clerkship, land a judicial internship, obtain my first job and ultimately pass the bar exam. She was there for me and attended the funerals when my grandfather and grandmother passed away while I was in law school. She counseled me through relationships, my marriage and the birth of my child. She was like a mother to me and a very close friend. The loss and pain that I feel by her death is indescribeable. I can only say that she will be missed tremendously and my heart is broken. I love and will forever miss her. I love you Dean." - Tanya Clark, '99
"Michele Miller was a generous spirit, a caring person, and truly dedicated to students as people. She was terrific to have worked with, and she will be missed. I am so sorry to learn about this loss." Frank H. Wu, former Wayne Law Dean and current Chancellor & Dean at UC Hastings Law
"I got a chance to work with her as it relates to the scholarship fund I set up at the law school. She will truly be missed." - Judge Leonia Lloyd
"I have never worked for a nicer person. I worked with Dean Miller from 1992-1994 at Wayne Law School. I have always remembered what a sweet and caring person she was. Even though I have not seen her in many years, I will miss her. God Bless." - Tiffany
“The loss of Dean Miller is truly striking to me. I could not imagine what law school would like without her presence. Dean Miller played such an important role in my law career starting from the day 1. She was supportive and passionate loving every student of hers. Like what she did to many, she helped ease my nervousness facing all the unknown and self-doubts. No matter how busy she is, she would patiently listen to you. Seriously, she really listens to you. I cannot recall how many problems, issues, or even little concerns I troubled her with; yet she was there when I needed her. And, she really helped. She helped a bunch of us to solve the housing issue with the school. She always try to provide as much guidance to me both in academic and in career. Dean Miller really cares for her students: remembering them and keeping track how they do. Not only, she was the number one reason why I visit to the law school office so often; she was truly an inspirational figure. I learned and shared her passion to listen, to respect, and to love my colleague. Dean Miller, you taught me so much and turned me into someone better. You will always be remembered.” - Yu-Hsien (Jeff) Chang, '11
"Dean Miller was not your typical law school administrator. She was a counselor, job consultant, advocate and friend. If you needed something as a student Dean Miller would get it for you or she would find a way to get it for you. Her commitment to her students was endless. It was with Dean Miller's support and encouragement that I started the Gay and Lesbian Law Caucus (now the OUTlaws) during my first year at Wayne Law. Later, again with her support and encouragement, I ran for President of the Student Board of Governors and was elected. Later, yet again with Dean Miller's support, encouragement, and recommendation, I was awarded the Ford Motor Leadership scholarship. These accomplishments led to a job offer with a large firm. All of these things happened for me, in large part, because of Dean Miller. I truly would not be the person or lawyer I am today without her. The trajectory of my life was profoundly impacted because Dean Miller cared enough to care about me. I will be forever greatful to her. The passing of Dean Miller is an immeasurable loss to the Wayne Law community. My thoughts are with Dean Miller's family, her students, the alumni and faculty who new and loved ler. Through our sorrow let the light that Dean Miller shared with us shine through us to others (and of course, that light would shine purple)." - Amanda Shelton, '04
"Dean Miller will be missed... she truly put the student first and was responsible for supplying both a shoulder and moral support that saw quite a few law students through the sometimes struggles of law school into successful futures." - Mary Hollens
"Dean Miller always had her door open, welcoming all to the warmth of her caring heart. Sometimes I'd pop into her office to give her an update, sometimes just to grab an altoid, and once before an interview, just to help me relax because she could always make me smile. My young daughters remember Michele Miller as 'the really nice lady who wore that pretty purple color and gave us popcorn.' I remember Michele Miller as the wonderful woman who saw something in me and gave me the nudge I needed to keep going. Dean Miller cared and would help in any way she could. She's truly an inspiration for all." - Nadia Hamade
"Dean Miller was a genuinely kind person who cared for her Wayne Law students. Her positive impact on student will live on as her lasting legacy." - Jonathan Schwartz, '07
"I worked for Dean Miller during my last year of undergraduate study at Wayne State and while I didn’t attend Wayne Law – she helped me navigate that difficult first year as a law student at Syracuse by phone because back then in the mid-90s there was no email. Her advice and care helped me juggle single parenthood and Torts and I’m forever grateful. My son is now entering college…and she had such an impact on me personally and professionally that when my daughter was born I made sure that Dean got a chance to meet her. A little part of me will always be purple." - Benita R Miller
"Dean Miller gave so much to so many. She may have left us in the physical sense, but her legacy of integrity, compassion and excellence will always remain with those of us fortunate enough to have known her. She will be greatly missed." - Marvin A. Cooke, '97
"She was both Dean Miller, and Michele Miller. She never wore a mask. Her eyes were always filled with smiles, and it was impossible to see her without smiling yourself. Her voice was a gentle melody of caring, truth and compassion. She radiated a genuine love that lit up the room with a warm glow. That ultimate human gift is not lost in her passing - it flows onward through those who she encountered. Emily Dickinson wrote: 'Unable are the loved to die; for love is immortality.' I will remember her." - Jeff McCarroll, '05
Due to several health issues, I had to take a semester off a year ago. Thanks to Dean Miller, who was so understanding and approachable, I was able to transition back to law school with very little problem. When I had emergency back surgery a few weeks ago, Dean Miller was great in helping to coordinate my school schedule. I loved having an administrator who understood students as people, and not just numbers. She was also so warm and caring, and I know she affected all the students she came into contact with. Dean Miller, you will be missed! My thoughts and prayers to your family at this difficult time." - Katie Okonowski, '13
"First and foremost, my condolences to the Miller Family, friends, and loved ones. Sentimentally, my fondest memories at Wayne State University was working as an Administrative Assistant to Dean Michele R. Miller (1988-90). Dean Miller always encouraged academic excellence, independence and professionalism. Additionally, Michele displayed compassion, a fun-loving spirit, keen awareness, legal expertise, a sense of humor and overall, supreme wisdom. Going forward, throughout my life's journey I always stayed in contact with Dean Miller, keeping Michele abreast of my academic pursuits, family growth (five sons), receiving legal advise and/or guidance and so on. Upon my final return to Wayne State in Spring 2010, I apprised Dean Miller of my journey towards the completion of my Bachelor's Degree in Public Affairs, subsequently my graduation (May 2011). As always, she smiled, hugged me, and gave me words of inspiration, 'You can do it!' During the latter part of our conversation, Michele shared with me that her daughter Shannyn is now an adult and doing well and similarly with her nephew Schuyler.
Thereafter, I proudly introduced some of my classmates to Dean Miller and shared awesome stories of our personal and professional history with them. Subsequently, in the winter 2011 semester, some of my classmates sought her academic and personal guidance. Michele made herself available to assist them. Dean Miller never met a stranger, that she would not serve. I believe her middle initial, 'R' should mean Rescuer! In closing, may God continue to Bless Dean Miller's family, friends, and loved ones with awesome memories of her warm spirit! I thank God that I had Michele R. Miller in my life." - Mrs. Michelle A. Mims (Mr. Samuel K. Mims)
"We are all blessed to have known Dean Miller. She was an amazing woman who cared so much for her students and for Wayne State. I sit moved to tears thinking of how many lives she impacted in such a positive way. What an amazing woman. Today we have an angel no matter how bad it hurts." - Jodi
"Words cannot express the positive impact that Dean Miller had on my law school experience and legal career. She was a safe haven to many students. I thought of Dean Miller out of the blue a couple of months ago and decided to spontaneously call her. Even though we had not talked for years, our conversation was just like I was back in law school hanging out in her office. She had an unique way of making everyone feel special. Her kindness and loving spirit were genuine. I pray for her family's strength during this difficult time. However, I hope they are comforted by the enormous impact and greatness of Dean Miller’s life and legacy." - Melanie Simms, '96
"Upon learning of Dean Michele Miller's untimely departure from us I was immediately shocked, saddened, dismayed, and hurt. Dean Miller was an angel on earth! I had the pleasure of working for her for several years in the law school and it is because of her I am the professional woman I am today. She taught me perseverance, how to fight eloquently with my mind, and most importantly she modeled how to love people! I know that she will forever be with me and many others in spirit. I pray that her family finds comfort in knowing that she lived a full life, impacting everyone she met." - Kimberly May
"And so here we are, with so much having been said by all so beautifully (along with other comments yet to come), words that give such rich and touching insight, dignity and understanding of the woman, Michele Miller, to whom we stand poised to give tribute to September 2. And now, to express the feelings of loss of our law school 'Mom' in a way yet unsaid: Students, as you go forward to face whatever the exam, I quote the words of another beloved 'Mom' who aptly said after her own loss: 'DAMN! DAAAMN!! DAAAAAAMN!!!' No doubt about it, you 'are' missed, Dean Miller." - Signed: O
"I remember meeting Michele at the new faculty orientation and the first thing she said to me is 'I know I'm going to like you, you're wearing my favorite color.' And indeed, I was wearing purple, incidentally my favorite color as well. What I didn't realize then, was how much I would grow to like and respect her. I only had the privilege of knowing Michele for two years, but it was quickly clear to me that she was the heart of the entire school. I feel incredibly honored that in the short time I knew her, she became not just my colleague, but my friend. Michele, you will be missed, but never forgotten." - Professor Rachel Settlage
"Michelle Miller was at Wayne State Law School when I was a student there. I can honestly say that I owe my success in law school to her. I was a single mother, operating my carpet cleaning business and attending law school full time. On several occasions, Dean Miller would be waiting for me outside of my class with a paper in her hand that needed my signature. These papers turned out to be scholarship applications that she had completed for me, and submitted with little or no effort on my part. As a result of Michelle’s caring and loving support, I made it through law school with almost no debt! She always had positive words of encouragement for her students and stern words if we were falling down on the job! She was a great asset to Wayne State Law School, and to the countless number of students she helped through law school. Her passing was indeed a great loss." - Jendayi D. Saada
Michele with one L
By Ricardo Villarosa
By now, the secret is out. Each one of us was her favorite. Hearing and reading the endless stream of stories of how Dean Michele Miller (that’s Michele with one L) touched each of us over her almost 30 years at Wayne State University Law School, it is difficult to comprehend how thousands of people could share a common feeling about one person. “She made me feel like I was her favorite.” Everyone has a story that demonstrates a level of love and compassion that could only be reserved for her favorite students. The truth is that we were all her favorites—even those of us who tested that love on a regular basis. More importantly she was our favorite. Dean Miller was your favorite teacher, dean, coworker, friend, or family member.
I had the unique privilege of knowing her in all of these ways. First, she was my Dean of Supportive Services. Long before her professional colleagues around the country had realized that academic support meant so much more than just supporting the academic side of a law student’s development, Dean Miller embraced the term “supportive services”. She knew that the non-academic stuff that students face while in law school can have a tremendous impact on a student’s success. That’s why she helped us with case briefing, outlining, and exam taking tips, but more often handing out tissues and hugs. Or, she just sat and gave you a safe place to be vulnerable in the competitive atmosphere that is pervasive in our law school environment. From Summer Torts through graduation, she was my teacher and my Dean of Supportive Services.
Like countless others, I found myself returning to campus again and again to visit Dean Miller.--first, in the Annex, then in the temporary trailers, and finally in the “New Building” in 2000. On that day in October of 2000, I had two reasons for my visit to the school. My wife, Pam, and I had just suffered the terrible loss of our son Dylan and I had decided that I needed to switch career paths to free Pam of the burden of providing the job that carried our family insurance. After visiting with Career Services, I made my mandatory visit to my Dean of Supportive Services. She listened quietly as I shared the pain of the last several months. Then, she explained to me that Dean Sharon Brown, former Dean of Academic Affairs, had just retired: Dean Miller was now both deans, and she would be hiring a Director of Supportive Services to work with her. She said that the job had not been posted, but gave me a draft and said it sounded like something that would be a good fit for my skills. Nine months later (typical for Wayne processes), I started a new relationship with her. She was my coworker, my boss. She provided an opportunity that has helped me and my family recover from our most devastating loss.
Since then, I’ve been apprentice to an angel. I had the best of both worlds. She was a constant source of knowledge and experience, and yet she always encouraged me to make programs my own. For just over a decade, we worked together to make the Dean of Students Office the One-stop office for any students needs—the “one quick question” office. From the beginning, she treated me more as a partner than a subordinate—a rare type of boss. As my former dean, she had always been a friend to me, but now, I had a chance to be a friend to her.
Over the years, I was blessed to become someone she turned to for counsel and support for work and family matters. More than coworkers, we became friends and family. My oldest son, Christian, developed a relationship with Michele and her family. She called him her adopted son. In time, I had the opportunity to become a godfather to Shannyn.
As Aisa, my baby sister, reads these words to you, I am beginning a 6-day solo backpacking trip in the backcountry of Denali National Park in Alaska. However, it’s no longer a solo trip. For the past seven years, Michele’s desktop pictures have been scenes from my earlier Alaska expeditions. She loved the purple flowers and fiery sunsets of the mountains. Today, I’m carrying a bit of Michele with me. And at the perfect time at the perfect spot with the perfect view, we’ll sit down, have a strong cup of “Ricardo’s coffee” and say our goodbyes while I take one last picture for her.
Dean Michele Miller (Michele with one L). She was my teacher/ my student; my boss/my partner; and my sister—SHE WAS MY FRIEND.
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