The Johns Hopkins Gazette: June 19, 2000
June 19, 2000
VOL. 29, NO. 39


Auxiliary Enterprises Bids Farewell To Its Founding Director

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette
Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

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.

Bettye Miller

"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 sorely missed." A transplanted New Yorker, Miller moved to Baltimore in 1967 when her husband opened a Baltimore/Washington branch office for Drake's Bakeries. 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 Monday. 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 endeavors happen. "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 good hands. "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 Business Office. 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 that difficult." 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 "absolutely nothing." "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 and workable." If her work experience is any indication, we can look forward to seeing Miller on safari this time next year.