"Learn, grow…find purpose" was the thought pattern as LeMoyne-Owen College locked in on Dr. Andrea Lewis Miller as its 12th president in Sept. 2015. Now, the Board of Trustees has chosen not to renew her contract.

A three-sentence statement from the President-elect of The LeMoyne-Owen College gives a glimpse of Dr. Andrea Lewis Miller’s understanding of the need for motion and change balanced with continuity.

Miller becomes the person in charge – and notably LOC’s first woman president – on Sept. 1. She accepted the call of The LeMoyne-Owen College’s Board of Trustees on June 11.

“I look forward to embracing my alma mater’s shining legacy and helping the institution evolve in today’s higher education marketplace. I want LeMoyne-Owen College to continue to be for others what it was for me: a precious opportunity to learn, grow and eventually find purpose.”

With the reporter’s note of choice words in italics, Miller’s written statement was her first public step forward as the designee to succeed Johnnie B. Watson, who, like Miller, is a LOC alum, the only two among the college’s soon to be twelve presidents.

“I am honored and humbled by this opportunity to serve an institution that has done so much for me,” said Miller, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology.

Robert Lipscomb, chairman of the board of trustees, made the announcement last Thursday morning (June 11) on the steps of Brownlee Hall on the campus at 807 Walker.

Lipscomb said there was “considerable debate and dialogue” that was unlike past practices – all part of “a very transparent process.” The input of multiple stakeholders was sought, gathered and seriously considered, he said.

The process continued Thursday morning with a “great debate,” said Lipscomb. There were many votes and “the initial vote was not unanimous. That let’s you know we had two great candidates. …At the end of day we think we have selected someone that can take this college immediately to the next level.nd of day we think we have selected someone that can take this college immediately to the next level.

Miller leaves Baton Rouge Community College to become LOC’s 12th president. She emerged the choice over Dr. Russell “Russ” Wigginton, vice president for External Programs at Rhodes College.

There was applause when Lipscomb announced the choice, which came more than an hour later that scheduled.

“I hope you will get behind Dr. Miller like the board has gotten behind Dr. Miller,” said Lipscomb, noting that the final selection met with unanimous approval. “Our best days are ahead of us. And we’ve got to recommit that HBCUs are important.”

Miller has a doctorate in cell and developmental biology from Atlanta University, She has 20-plus years of experience in higher education, including 6 years as LOC’s vice president for Academic Affairs/Dean of Faculty. She spent six years as provost/executive vice president for Academic and Student Affairs at Southwest Tennessee Community College, where she was responsible for strategic planning and institutional research.

A varied group awaited the announcement, including students, teachers, alumni, board members, administrators, elected officials and their representatives, clergy, business community elements, activists and media.

The outgoing president

As is his style, Watson, who spoke before the announcement, voicedAs is his style, Watson, who spoke before the announcement, voiced thanks for the opportunity to serve. He and the trustees stayed on the same page from Aug. 26, 2006, his first day on the job. He touted yearly balanced budgets achieved with the cooperation of faculty and staff.