Martin University announced on Monday that it has named a former astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center as its new president.
George E. Miller III is the Indianapolis school's third president, following Algeania Freeman and the Rev. Boniface Hardin.
Hardin, a Benedictine monk who founded the college in 1977, had served as president nearly 20 years before retiring in early 2008.
Freeman succeeded Hardin and helped to close a $653,000 deficit by collecting $450,000 in gifts and cutting the 95-person faculty 25 percent. But her tactics quickly drew complaints from employees who said Freeman was overly harsh and shuffled people into jobs that made little sense.
Students protested after a popular professor was fired, and seven members of the university’s 16-person board of trustees resigned in November 2008, including at least two who said Freeman’s methods were a factor.
In December 2010, the university’s board chairman said Freeman had made the decision to retire. Charlotte Westerhaus-Renfrow, a former NCAA executive, has been serving as acting president.
Miller comes to Martin from Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C., where he served as vice president for academic affairs and professor of chemistry.
He’s held similar administrative positions at several universities, including at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., and Bowie State University in Bowie, Md.
Before his academic career, Miller spent almost five years at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., as an astrophysicist in the planetary atmosphere division.
His desire to teach led him to Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., where he began his academic career, according to a press release announcing his hiring at Martin.
“The search committee took its time to get it right,” said John Bartlett, chairman of the university’s board, in the prepared statement. “Dr. Miller’s experience in academia with fundraising for research and programs, and his business acumen, is in line with the new strategic plan.”
Miller received a bachelor’s in chemistry from Delaware State University. He earned master’s and doctorate degrees in physical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Howard University, respectively.