Office of the President (John Millis) Records
Scope and Content note
The collection follows a strict chronological structure with an alphabetical author/subject arrangement within academic years. Included are correspondence, memos, reports, appointment calendars, and planning documents. Notable correspondents include local and state leaders Warren Austin, Deane Davis, Dean of Women Mary Jean Simpson, College of Agriculture Dean Carrigan, and Proctor Page. There are several boxes of correspondence and other materials on UVM's war effort and training programs, both for the Army Air Force and ASTP, the Army Specialized Training Program.
- Millis, John, 1903-1988 (Person)
Collection is open for research.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the University Archivist.
Born in 1903 in Palo Alto, California, John Schoff Millis earned a bachelor's and master's degree at the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in physics there in 1931. He taught at Lawrence College in Wisconsin, rising to dean of the college in 1936 and dean of administration by 1939. He became known to UVM during a year when he travelled the country on a Carnegie Corporation grant, studying the management of other colleges and universities.
Millis became president during a time of financial crisis at the university. So severe was it that the Vermont legislature was called into special session to deal with the deficit of a half million dollars. They appropriated more than $250,000, to be matched by alumni donors. The university was required to set aside over $68,000 yearly to cover the interest on its debt. Millis was inaugurated in November 1941, less than a month before Pearl Harbor. The war collapsed the undergraduate population from 1,300 to lesss than 650 in less than two years as students entered the armed forces. During the war years, the university stayed afloat through austerity and through fundraising to match the legislative grant. The end of the war brought a flood of new students and the university began to regain its footing.
During his eight-year tenure, Millis brought some important reforms and changes to the university. He devised a plan that guaranteed academic freedom and tenure for the faculty, and a university retirement plan. He reorganized the university into five colleges: Arts and Sciences, Agriculture, Education and Nursing, Medicine, and the new College of Technology, which included engineering, mathematics, chemistry, and business. Another building expansion, particularly of new dormitories to accommodate the burgeoning student population, was begun in his presidency. In 1949 he resigned to become the president of Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and later, chancellor. After retirement, he became Chair of the National Fund for Medical Education, and served on the National Board of Medical Examiners. Millis died in 1988. Faculty who were teaching during his tenure at UVM later praised his leadership and accessibility, both to students and faculty.
Sources consulted in the preparation of this note and others in Record Group 2 include:
Daniels, Robert V. editor. The University of Vermont : The First Two Hundred Years Hanover, NH : University of Vermont : Distributed by University Press of New England, 1991.
Marshall, Jeffrey. Universitas Viridis Montis, 1791-1991: An Exhibition of documents and artifacts telling the story of the University of Vermont. Burlington, Vt.: University of Vermont, 1991.
Smallwood, Frank. The University of Vermont Presidents: Two Centuries of Leadership. Burlington, Vt.: University of Vermont, 1997.
21.576 Linear feet
Language of Materials
Millis served as president of the University of Vermont from 1941-1949. Included are correspondence, memos, reports, appointment calendars, and planning documents. Notable correspondents include local and state leaders Warren Austin, Deane Davis, Dean of Women Mary Jean Simpson, College of Agriculture Dean Carrigan, and Proctor Page. There are several boxes of correspondence and other materials on UVM's war effort and training programs, both for the Army Air Force and ASTP, the Army Specialized Training Program.
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- Guide to the Office of the President (John Millis) Records
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Part of the University of Vermont Archives Repository
Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US