Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sesquicentennial Stories: The Promise of UK #90

Arthur McQuiston Miller was born in the countryside of Eaton, Ohio on August 6, 1861.  One of his pastimes was trilobite hunting in the Niagara limestone quarries in the region and thus began his interest in geology.  Miller attended Eaton public schools and in 1880 matriculated at the University of Wooster, transferring to Princeton University in 1883, and graduating in 1884.  For several years Miller served as principal in Eaton High School but returned to Princeton where he earned a master’s degree in 1887, continuing as a fellow in 1888-1889.

A. M. Miller, #25, 1894
Miller spent a year as professor of natural history in Wilson College, spent another year studying abroad at the University of Munich, and he came to the University of Kentucky in 1892 as professor of geology.  He remained at the University until his death in 1929.

Eastern Kentucky trip on Big Sandy River and through the "Breaks" to Virginia; Four people at Natural Bridge; A. M. Miller left, 1895
 During Miller’s tenure at UK he served as professor of geology and zoology from 1895-1911 and as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1907-1917.

A fossil from Vanceburg, Kentucky; Photographer: A. M. Miller, 1900
 He was remembered by his students as an effective teacher who was honest and frank.  He headed a department and entered UK in its infancy when, among other challenges, funds were meager. Many Kentuckians (and others) were against teaching the principles of evolution, a matter that state legislatures took up to answer the question of whether it could be taught in state supported institutions.  In the years leading up to the famous Scopes trial, Professor Miller remained frank in his support of the teaching practice.

A classroom in what is now Miller Hall; Professor Arthur M. Miller stands by the door, 1900
Miller made many outstanding scientific contributions to the study of Kentucky Geology.  He was involved in the early days of Kentucky geological work.  Among his areas of research included the stratigraphy and paleontology of the mid-Ordovician formations of central Kentucky.  For the Kentucky Geological Survey he undertook field studies of the succession and correlation of the lower coal beds of eastern Kentucky and the mineral veins of central Kentucky.  In 1919 he prepared “Geology of Kentucky” that was published by the Kentucky Geological Survey.  In his later years he researched Kentucky meteorites and studied rock shelters.

Professor A. M. Miller, second from left
 Miller Hall is located in the central campus across the plaza from the Patterson Office Tower. It houses Undergraduate Studies, the Gyula Pauer Cartography Lab and other Department of Geography offices, and School of Architecture studios.  

Hines Cave exploring party camp; A. M. Miller at left, 1922
 Completed in 1898 as Science Hall, Miller Hall is one of four nineteenth century buildings still standing on the University of Kentucky campus. It has served as the home of Natural Sciences, a Horticulture Museum, Law, Romance Languages, the Kentucky Geological Survey, and the Honors Program. It was named Miller Hall in 1940 to honor Arthur McQuiston Miller, first dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and first football coach.

Miller Hall

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