When George Miller learned he’d be moving to Japan, his immediate reaction was, “Wow, that’s a long way to go.”
With family living a 90-minute flight away from Tokyo in Kyushu, Japan, working at Temple University Japan was Miller’s dream job. Still, it’s a more than 16-hour flight to Tokyo from Philadelphia, where he’s called home for more than a decade.
Miller, a former journalism professor and assistant chair of the journalism department on Main Campus, started his new role as the associate dean for academic affairs at TUJ this fall after teaching on Main Campus for more than 11 years.
Miller was a fixture at the Klein College of Media and Communication. He taught introductory journalism course Journalism and Society and journalism capstone course Philadelphianeighborhoods.com, in which students write stories and create videos about a neighborhood in the city.
Miller will now oversee all 10 undergraduate majors at TUJ, including Asian studies, international affairs and Japanese language. By the spring, he’ll likely expand his responsibilities to include graduate programs.
Miller said the transition comes with a learning curve, and there’s a lot he still needs to understand about the new gig.
“I come into this as a person with a very specific skill set,” Miller added. “Now I have to slow down and appreciate what other people teach and what they are experts in.”
As a Journalism and Society professor, Miller was many students’ introduction to the journalism world. Miller said he enjoyed teaching both the introductory and capstone courses.
“I’ve got to teach people when they first arrived on campus, and I’ve got to get to know them a little bit and stay in touch with them, and I saw them right before they exited college,” Miller said.
Miller’s students knew him for his witty lectures, friendly nature and bringing his Shih Tzu named Mookie – who Miller said is a “regular at Klein” – to class.
Junior journalism major Kee Min said his favorite memory of Miller is when he helped him and his friends work on a paper during an all-nighter at Paley Library.
“We were messaging him questions regarding the paper [and] he was helping us via Facebook Messenger at 3 a.m. in the library,” Min said. “Klein will miss him a lot. He is definitely a big figure in the college.”
Chris Malo, Klein College’s community liaison and the editor of Philadelphianeighborhoods.com, worked closely with Miller on the capstone course. For him, Miller’s departure is bittersweet.
“We’re going to miss George, and we’re going to miss Mookie running around the halls of Annenberg,” Malo said. “[Miller] describes it to me as the opportunity of a lifetime and a dream come true. If you have to see somebody go, you’re glad it’s going to be for something good.”
Malo and Miller also worked together on JUMP, a magazine dedicated to Philadelphia’s music scene, which Miller launched. Despite covering local musicians, JUMP was created in London in Summer 2010.
During a six-week study abroad program, Miller and his students covered various music shows, festivals and DJ parties.
“We made a magazine there, and we printed it and started showing people in Philly,” Miller said. “And everybody in Philly was like, ‘This is great, but I don’t know any of these guys in London. I wish we had something like this in Philly.’”
The majority of JUMP reporters are Miller’s former students, and the magazine will continue without him.
Alex Mulcahy, the publisher of Red Flag Media Group, which publishes multiple niche print publications, is taking over Miller’s position as publisher and editor in chief.
“It’s going to be tough to see him go because he is the glue that held certain things together,” Malo said. “[But] I think the department will find a way to soldier on, and there’s a lot of capable and talented faculty to pick up the slack.”
Miller said the food trucks on Main Campus are what he’ll miss most from his time here, but he appreciates how his time teaching influenced his career.
When he worked as a journalist for the Philadelphia Daily News, he said the focus of his job was putting out a story that could impact people’s lives. As a professor, he multiplied the impact by teaching thousands of students and alumni how to create their own content.
“Now, as the associate dean, I get to work with faculty and they work with students who are then out there doing amazing things,” Miller said. “I have an ability to multiply the impact [even more].”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Kee Min has previously written articles for The Temple News. He had no part in the reporting or editing of this story.