Ralph Miller '73 | University of Portland

Ralph Miller '73

Ralph Miller, a much-admired and respected international businessman and community activist, and an integral member of the University's Board of Regents since 1993, was born in Essen, Germany, in 1938. He earned his academic degrees from the University of Oregon, from Harvard University's Graduate School of Business Executive Education Program, and from the University of Portland, from which he has a master's in business administration (1973). His love and appreciation for the value of education was instilled in him very early by his immigrant parents, as he says, and today he and his wife Sandi have not only supported countless students on and off The Bluff, but are the very definition of lifelong learners, eager and curious in many fields of inquiry.

Miller began his business career in 1962 as a certified public accountant with Erickson, Eisenman, and Company, before becoming a group president at Columbia Corporation from 1971 to 1976, but it was the company he founded in 1976 and then ran for twenty years for which he is perhaps best known in the business world: the MMI Group, which he finally sold in 1995.

But it is Miller's remarkable community service, especially to the University of Portland and to the Jewish community of Oregon, that is the true measure of the man. He has been director, treasurer and president of the Jewish Community Center of Portland, director and president of the American Jewish Committee of Portland, and a director of the Jewish Welfare Federation of Portland. Additionally he served as advisor both to Multnomah County and to the State of Oregon, representing Oregon's Third Congressional District on state commissions.

While Ralph Miller has for 16 years given the University community an endless supply of his energy, insight, humor, and support as a regent and frequent guest on campus, the University wishes to particularly honor him today for his central and crucial role in a project of historic dimensions in the long story of Oregon's Catholic university. This is the acquisition, in late 2008, after many years of negotiations and planning, of the 35 acres of riverfront property below the bluff to the north, what was for years called the Triangle Park property and is already being referred to, even among students, as the riverfront campus. It cannot be emphasized enough how the purchase of this new land, adjacent to the upper campus and open to one of the great rivers of the West, will create stunning new educational opportunities for University students over the course of the 21st century.

What University president Father Bill Beauchamp has called a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was engineered, in very large part, by the diligence, will, intelligence, and calm creativity of Ralph Miller, over many years and many meetings, and the University honors him publicly this afternoon for remarkable labors that will yield incalculable results on The Bluff in the years to come. Green trails, salmon recovery laboratories, playing fields, water resource projects, a boathouse — these are only a few of the dreams and plans beginning to take shape for the river campus, and that they are dreamt at all is greatly due to the quiet and cheerful Ralph Miller. Well done, faithful friend.