Jean Ann Miller has crossed paths with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Louganis.
The uninitiated might think she was a big time agent or confidant to the stars, but it’s all in a day’s work for the director of the Center for Student Activities at Oakland University.
Living her dream
Miller started working at her alma mater in 1983 as a residence hall director. From there, she worked her way up the ladder.
“I actually have my dream job, because this is what I aspired to probably my whole adult life, what I have today,” said Miller.
Miller’s approach to the job is simple: students first.
“You pay my salary,” she said. “I need to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. If you leave here being disappointed in your experience at Oakland University, then that makes me really sad because it’s such a great place.”
Office assistant Lori Marsh said this mentality has kept Miller in the office doing paperwork until 2:30 or 3 a.m.
“She could be totally swamped with work and this student will come in and need something and she’ll stop what she’s doing and take care of the students,” Marsh said.
Although she doesn’t get to go much—Marsh said she goes during the school sponsored trips—Miller enjoys the entertainment scene in Chicago and New York.
She has to think for a minute when asked about her favorite musical.
“‘Phantom of the Opera’ was good, but ‘Wicked,’” she said. It’s ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and that’s one of my favorite movies too.”
Having spent every weekend around her grandparents in Detroit, Miller has a special affinity for the city. Now that the city is in trouble, she feels the younger generation is poised to make a difference.
“I am full of optimism, and there are students here that are engaged in the city of Detroit,” she said. “I believe those are the students that are going to make the difference and turn Detroit around. “
Miller also enjoys the lush greenery on the west side of the state.
“Last summer, I saw it,” she said. “I just didn’t have any concept of how much agriculture we do here in Michigan besides apples and cherries.”
Miller is proud of Michiganders ‘spirit of generosity.
“They’re so generous,” she said. “Even when they have those radiothons and phoneathons when there is a tragedy or disaster in the world, Michigan just gives, gives, gives from their heart and that’s very special.”