Honoring a Tireless Champion
Inspired by the impact that longtime faculty member Tom Miller and the Entrepreneurship Initiative have made on their lives and careers, a group of NC State alumni has established the Dr. Thomas K. Miller III Fellows Endowment to support entrepreneurial minded students. The fund will provide small stipends during the period directly following graduation, when students may face a decision between taking a job and focusing on fleshing out their ideas and securing funding for a startup company.
Alumni Bill Nussey and Chris Evans are among the alumni donors who helped establish the endowment. They call Miller a tireless champion and mentor who provides students with ongoing encouragement and connects them with critical resources.
“Every once in a generation or two, there is a person who is able to change lives. Someone whose advice, mentorship and friendship helps create a north star for others and whose selfless support emboldens people to pursue their dreams. For me, in the late 1980s, this person was Tom Miller,” Nussey said. “In the years approaching my graduation, Tom adopted me, my friend Chris and our little company called Da Vinci Systems. He was a reasoned voice of mentorship and support, as we contemplated what was – in those days – the completely radical idea of a bunch of college students launching their own business to sell software across the country and across the world.
“Tom’s advice and support at such a critical juncture in my life proved pivotal. I’ve since spent my entire career as an entrepreneur, living a life I couldn’t have dreamed of when I was a student here 30 years ago.”
Nussey and Evans were among the guest speakers at a Sept. 8 reception held at Talley Student Union’s 1887 Bistro to announce the endowment’s creation.
“When Bill and I came on campus with the heart of entrepreneurs, nobody really knew what to do with us. We didn’t know if we should try, but you encouraged us,” Evans told Miller at that event. “You did that for others, too. Your vision was even larger and, piece by piece, you changed the entrepreneurial culture on campus. This university community has been forever changed by your vision and expertise.”
Chancellor Randy Woodson noted at the reception that creating more opportunities such as scholarships and fellowships is one of the priorities of NC State’s Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign.
“We’re grateful for your support. Congratulations, Tom, and thank you all for your contributions,” Woodson said.