A Tribute to Gerald R. Miller

Article excerpt

It came as a sadness but not a surprise that two weeks ago we lost Dr. Gerald R. Miller. Professor Miller, who was also lovingly known as G. R. or Gerry to his friends and family died May 20, 1993 after a long battle with cancer.

Professor Miller was a visible member of our network. I am sure that we all miss his hearty laughter at this conference. It is fitting that our young scholar's award bears Gerald R. Miller's name because G. R. very much believed that it is the young scholars who are the future of our combined areas of interest.

Professor Miller was both a Fellow of the International Communication Association and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. He was a University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University and was also a recipient of that university's distinguished faculty award for excellence in teaching and research.

Professor Miller was one of the first and foremost scholars that can be attributed with bringing the study of Interpersonal Communication to the field of Communication. At a time when people were looking at Interpersonal Communication as face to face communication between two people, Miller advocated looking beyond the mere number of participants and looking instead at the unique information that the interactants shared with one another, and their usage of this information in communicating with one another. In this way he distinguished interpersonal relationships from broader more sociologically based relationships.

Professor Miller contributed broadly across many areas of interpersonal concern. Perhaps two of the areas where he had the most impact are in the study of deceptive communication and in the study of compliance-gaining and influence. He received numerous awards for his study in these areas and his deception research was supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation.

However, if you asked Professor Miller what he felt his greatest contribution was, he would tell you it was his students. Miller felt that producing a core of well trained scholars would do more to advance our understanding of interpersonal relationships than he alone could do in a lifetime.

I am honored to have been one of Professor Miller's students. Although, I am but one of many. While Professor Miller influenced each of our lives, his influence continues through our students, and in the case of my older academic siblings, their student's students. …