Where Science Meets Society

Aug 7, 2015

A father’s focus on environmental law influences his daughter’s choice of career. The result is the George J. Miller Scholarship to support students in environmental programs.

The George J. Miller Scholarship for students in the interdisciplinary Environmental Programs in the Geosciences honors a pioneer in environmental law. Established by his daughter, Dr. Kate Miller, dean of College of Geosciences, the George J. Miller scholarship supports students who are prepared in several fields, ranging from the geosciences to social studies, so that they can meet provide leadership for a sustainable society.

George Miller was an attorney in a large Philadelphia law firm when the landmark Clean Air and Clean Water legislation was signed into federal law in 1972. Understanding that the new law would have far-reaching implications, Miller changed his practice to emphasize environmental law in order to advise, define strategies, and defend corporate clients in suits enacted under the legislation. He counted among his first clients the coal, chemical and pharmaceutical companies.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, while Kate Miller was trying to chart her own career in the geosciences, her father often remarked that he wished he could find attorneys with a background in the sciences or engineering. Dr. Miller never forgot her father’s frustration with this early disconnect between science and policy and legislation. 

Upon retirement from his firm in 1999, Mr. Miller was appointed by former Governor Tom Ridge to be chairman and chief judge of the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board, the state body that hears appeals to decisions by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Until his retirement in 2010, Judge Miller heard appeals on all manner of environmental topics, ranging from land planning issues to civil penalties. Over his 40 years in environmental law, George Miller watched the legal profession’s role change from litigation to judicial guidance on compliance and implementation of the law. He also was one of the first to apply technology to this emerging specialization by putting environmental case law on line and setting up an online system to file documents.

Kate Miller’s own career choices have been greatly influenced by watching her father navigate the middle ground between meeting his corporate clients’ needs and complying with and implementing the legal controls that ensure a sustainable environment. 

“Our college’s Environmental Programs in the Geosciences graduates exactly the kind of students whom my father wanted to hire 40 years ago,” said Dean Kate Miller. “We are both pleased that the program at Texas A&M is fulfilling a need that is even more relevant today.”

Both Kate and her father hope that recipients of this scholarship will lead lives that include a commitment to sustaining our natural resources.

To learn how you can honor a family member, esteemed professor or other individuals who have influenced your life choices, contact Senior Development Officer Cara Milligan at 979-862-4944 or cmilligan@txamfoundation.com.