Innovation is a key to the future of Alfred University graduates

Innovation played a critical role in shaping Marlin Miller’s life, as a student at Alfred University and during a 65-year career as a successful businessman and noted philanthropist.

Miller, who earned a bachelor’s degree in ceramic engineering from Alfred in 1954, is co-founder and director at Norwich Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on early-stage medical technology. He offered the keynote address at his alma mater’s 183rd Commencement Saturday morning, advising graduates to embrace new ideas and innovation as they chart their future.

“The power of innovation is what I hope you remember from my remarks,” said Miller, a member of the University’s Board of Trustees since 1972 (chairman from 1983-89). “Innovation is a powerful force. I hope you all become champions for innovation in one way or another.”

Miller related how innovation and technological advances played a role in his success as a student – at Alfred and at Harvard, where he earned an MBA – and as a businessman who co-founded two companies serving the medical industry, Arrow International and Norwich Ventures.

Miller urged graduates to serve their communities, as he has done throughout his professional life. One of the greatest donors to Alfred University, Miller’s philanthropy has resulted in nearly $75 million in gifts to his alma mater. With his gifts, Miller has built three new buildings – the Miller Performing Arts Center, Miller Theater and the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum – and created numerous scholarships.

Miller and Terry Galanis Jr., a 20-year member of the University’s Board of Trustees, were awarded honorary degrees Saturday. Miller received a Doctor of Arts degree, honoris causa, for his support of the visual and performing arts at Alfred University. Galanis Jr., president and CEO of Sealing Devices in Lancaster, NY, received a Doctor of Commerce degree, honoris causa. His father, Terry Galanis Sr., founder of Sealing Devices and a 1940 Alfred graduate, received the same honorary degree at a ceremony in Lancaster April 22. The Galanises were honored for their long-time support of Alfred University.

Alfred University conferred degrees on students who completed their course work in August and December 2018, as well as this semester. The University awarded three doctoral degrees, 67 master’s degrees and 286 baccalaureate degrees Saturday.