Brenau President Anne Skleder, Pete and Cathy Miller, and students

Expanding international efforts: Brenau establishes Miller Institute for Global Education

Brenau University has established the Miller Institute for Global Education to guide its internationalization plans that aim to increase students’ global awareness, an initiative key to the university’s mission and its strategic plan.

The institute is funded by an estate gift from Pete Miller, who has been a Brenau trustee since 1998, and his wife, Cathy. 

“As we move into the future, Brenau University will continue to meet the changing needs of our community and the world,” Brenau President Anne Skleder says. “Thanks to the generosity of Pete and Cathy Miller, one of the key ways that we will accomplish this strategic goal is through the Miller Institute for Global Education. I’m excited about the possibilities the institute will provide to send Brenau students around the globe and for the university to bring the world to Gainesville-Hall County.”

The creation of the institute builds upon the Miller family’s support of international studies at Brenau that established the Pete and Cathy Miller Family Endowment in 2006 to bring international students to Brenau and allow for international experiences from Brenau. Those areas of focus will be expanded upon by the new institute, which will be overseen by Rosi Ponce, executive director of international strategy and partnerships at Brenau.

The Miller endowment helped Brenau create government-level partnerships in China and Panama, and the institute will facilitate expansion of these models to cover other regions of the world. The new institute also will support Brenau students’ pursuit of highly competitive international opportunities such as the Boren Awards, Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships, and the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Dr. James Eck, provost and vice president of academic affairs, says the Miller endowment has benefited hundreds at Brenau.

“The establishment of The Pete and Cathy Miller Family Endowment in 2006 positioned Brenau to aggressively pursue its global education efforts, and the impact of the Miller Family Endowment has been profound,” Eck says. “More than 400 students, faculty and staff have benefited from funding connected to this endowment. Of that number, more than 250 American students have undertaken international experiences in Mexico, Great Britain, France, Italy and China.”

Ponce joined Brenau in 2020 and knows first-hand how transformative global education and experiences can be personally and professionally. She spent most of her adulthood living in countries around the world.

“I have been blessed to grow as a human being after each place that I have been and with each person that I have encountered during that journey,” Ponce says. “Through the Miller Institute for Global Education, it will be exciting to help Brenau students from across disciplines find the same opportunities to broaden themselves, cultivate mutual understanding with peoples from around the globe and develop skills that make them more marketable in the 21st century.”

Miller retired in 2010 as regional president of Regions Financial Corp. and began working with Willis Investment Counsel in Gainesville soon after retirement. He holds a degree in finance from Georgia State University and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Brenau.

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