Meet the MBA faculty: Dr. James K. Miller
If “experience is the best teacher,” Dr. James K. Miller offers his students more than just assignments and tests. He is an example of how hard work and discipline can successfully guide someone through various professional journeys.
Miller, assistant professor of Business, has a diverse professional background that includes positions as a CFO, banker, controller and entrepreneur. His nearly 30-year teaching career started at Penn State University and Alvernia, eventually leading him to West Chester University and Duquesne University, with a return to Alvernia three years ago.
“I really got into education by accident,” says Miller, who teaches graduate business courses at Alvernia. “I was working as a general manager controller in Reading, and a friend recommended I teach as an adjunct at Penn State. I was approached to teach a course in entrepreneurship.”
Although he had an MBA from Widener University and experience as an adjunct professor, Miller had to get a Ph.D. in order to teach at the graduate level. A tough task for someone who was also a business owner. With the support of his business partners, he was able to pursue his Ph.D. at Nova Southeastern University while they took on more responsibilities in running the companies.
His own graduate education pursuit has given Miller an empathetic view of his students’ desires and challenges. Teaching MBA courses gives him the opportunity to interact with experienced students who have clear career goals in mind. He says his teaching style at the graduate level is to allow students to explore the opportunities they have.
“At the undergrad level, they are taught a lot of theory and mathematical models,” he explains. “At the grad level, they are putting theory and models into practice.
“If I can get them to raise their bar, I think it is effective,” he continues.
For example, Miller helps students in his entrepreneurship class prepare for the opportunities that can come with business ownership. “You have to prepare to take risks when opportunity knocks,” he says. “You get ready for that opportunity by educating yourself in the field you enjoy.”
Miller’s students have the opportunity to learn from someone who can share wisdom from years of practical experience.
“One of the things I stress to students is that they can accomplish what they want by having self-discipline,” Miller states.