Celebrating Black History Month in the WNCC: Dr. Isaac Henry Miller, Jr.

February 26, 2022

By: Jim Pyatt, WNCC Archivist & Historian

Dr. Isaac Henry Miller, Jr. (September 26, 1920 - November 1, 2008)

Dr. Isaac H. Miller (September 26, 1920-November 1, 2008) was a leader in Higher Education and in the United Methodist Church.  The son of a former administrator at Bennett College, Dr. Miller served as President of Bennett College from September 1, 1966 until his retirement on June 30, 1987.  Prior to accepting this position he was a Professor of Biochemistry at Meharry Medical College.  A member of St. Matthew’s UMC in Greensboro, he provided leadership in his church, in the conference, and in the denomination. 

While President of Bennett, Dr. Miller collaborated with other colleges and universities in Greensboro to form a consortium that expanded Bennett's academic program by giving students access to other local universities.  His administration developed the biomedical research and interdisciplinary studies programs, along with a bridge program in conjunction with Meharry Medical College of Nashville, Tennessee.  He collaborated with other HBCU presidents to establish the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, serving on the first board of directors.  Dr. Miller's plans were supported by alumnae, who donated material and fiscal resources.  Under Dr. Miller’s leadership, Bennett College increased its endowment and completed construction of four new buildings on campus.

Dr. Miller had the distinction of being the first African-American elected from the WNC Conference to serve as a Lay Delegate to General Conference.  He was part of the WNC delegation to General Conference in 1972, and was elected as a delegate to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 1976.

Dr. Miller also served as a member of the WNC Council for Higher Education 1975-87, the WNC Conference Board of Higher Education 1976-88.  For the UMC he served on the General Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry from 1976-80.

Be sure to read the other biographies written by WNCC Archivist & Historian Jim Pyatt:

Bishop L. Scott Allen (May 4, 1918-September 18, 2004), the first (and to date, the only) African-American to serve as Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference.

Mrs. Effie Miller (September 17, 1930-September 1, 2008), a leader in the Western North Carolina Conference and the United Methodist Church, especially with regard to the United Methodist Women.

The Rev. Dr. J. C. Peters (July 10, 1925- July 2, 1998)the first African-American to serve as a District Superintendent in the Western North Carolina Conference.

Mr. Clarence Winchester, a leader in the North Carolina Conference (Central Jurisdiction) and in the WNC Conference.

Rev. Sophia Joyce East (January 25, 1906-May 4, 1996), the first African-American woman to serve as a pastor in the WNC Conference.

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