June 19, 2000|
VOL. 29, NO. 39
Auxiliary Enterprises Bids Farewell To Its Founding
By Greg Rienzi
Change is in the air, everywhere you look around. Actually,
you don't need to be a fan of '70s ballads to know that the
Homewood campus is caught in a blizzard of chaos these days.
Mounds of dirt and concrete scatter the terrain, while
foundations for new buildings literally sprout from the earth. It
is just the sort of grand transformation that Bettye Miller loves
to witness. She said it's too bad she is not going to be around
when the final bricks are laid into place.
After 30 years of service, Miller, director of
Auxiliary Enterprises, is retiring from
the university and the office she established 19 years ago.
During her tenure she has watched the campus and university
undergo tremendous growth, at times playing a pivotal role in the
institution's physical development. This perennial activity and
change is part of the reason Miller belongs to the rare breed who
claim to have never known a boring day at work.
"The only way you can stay in a job as long as I have is to
have things change, to embrace that change, and always have new
things to do," says Miller, whose last work day is June 30. "Who
wants to do the same thing year after year? I don't do the same
thing from one day to the next."
Miller's function as director has been to oversee strategic
and financial planning, and staff development and training for
Auxiliary Enterprises, a department that encompasses dining
services, the campus bookstore, housing, the Homewood Garage,
conference services and AllFirst Bank. In her role, Miller has
helped facilitate and plan the construction of Buildings A and B
and the Terrace Court Cafe and the renovations to the Homewood
Apartments and a number of residence halls. She also oversaw the
opening of the Wolman Station dining facility and the renovations
of the three other campus cafeterias.
Miller's longevity and commitment have instituted a standard
of excellence among her peers, according to Larry Benedict, dean
of Homewood Student Affairs.
"She reflects a level of dedication and loyalty that we
seldom see in this day and age," Benedict says. "Miller has been
a role model for many people here at the university. She will be
A transplanted New Yorker, Miller moved to Baltimore in 1967
when her husband opened a Baltimore/Washington branch office for
With a degree in math from City College of New York, Miller
was a substitute teacher for a couple of years until deciding she
needed to find a full-time career. Opportunity came knocking in
1970, when the position of budget administrator opened up for the
then Department of Computer Science.
Miller recalls how she walked away from the interview
thinking it went very well. It must have.
"When I came home from the Friday interview, the chairman of
the department called me up and offered me the job. He told me he
wanted me to start working that Monday," says Miller in her
trademark raspy voice and staccato delivery. "I thought, uhm.
What do I say? I told him I would call him back."
Needless to say, Miller showed up promptly for work that
She later assumed the position of business manager for the
dean of students, a role similar to the one she has held for the
past 19 years.
In 1981, concerned about the level and cost of campus
services and their impact on the cost of an education at Hopkins,
the university formed Auxiliary Enterprises to oversee everything
from vending machines to student housing.
Miller for a brief period held dual positions, business
manager and director of the new department. She describes that
time of her life as a great opportunity.
"One doesn't often get the chance to start his or her own
department," Miller says. "Most of us come on board and follow
someone else. You end up being compared to that person, what they
did or didn't do. I didn't have that to contend with, and it was
an enviable position to be in."
Miller made the most of her opportunity. Her list of
accomplishments includes negotiating contracts with Barnes and
Noble to operate the campus bookstore and with dining services,
implementing a cultural diversity training program for staff and
providing countless job opportunities for students and area
contractors. She also created the Office of Conference Services
in response to faculty, staff and nonprofit organizations that
wished to hold summer conferences on campus.
Miller takes great pride in the buildings and renovation
projects she helped bring in either on or under budget. Among
these projects have been renovations to Wolman, McCoy, Bradford
and Ivy halls.
Carol Mohr, director of the Housing Office, said it was
Miller's tenacity and management skills that made all these
"Bettye really spearheaded these renovations. And these were
all huge projects," says Mohr, who was hired by Miller 13 years
ago. "Bettye has been quite a presence in Auxiliary Enterprises.
She has not only been in the trenches personally overseeing
various activities, but she has been in the board rooms when the
big decisions were being made. She has always insisted on the
highest standards of quality as she thought students would expect
only the best from an institution the caliber of Johns Hopkins
University. I and the rest of us are really going to miss her."
Miller leaves, however, knowing Auxiliary Enterprises is in
"I have an excellent staff. I couldn't have done it without
them," Miller says. "They have been diligent, supportive and very
efficient. They, not me, have been Auxiliary Enterprises. I have
just been there to support them."
Miller's acting replacement will be Michael Sullivan,
current executive director of the Homewood Student Affairs
Sullivan says he plans to keep the status quo.
"Bettye has done it for so long that her operation runs
pretty well," Sullivan says. "I would say my job shouldn't be
As for Miller's retirement, she says it is time to move on
and do different things.
Yet, for the short term at least, Miller plans to do
"The first week I am going to stay up late and watch reruns
all night," says Miller, a self-proclaimed television junkie.
"After that I will start looking forward to all the traveling my
husband and I have been wanting to do."
In her travel plans are Alaska, a trip through the Panama
Canal and a tour through the west of Africa.
"I want to do it all," Miller laughs. "But I have never been
able to narrow these vacation plans down to something manageable
If her work experience is any indication, we can look
forward to seeing Miller on safari this time next year.