Journalism and Public Relations Department Welcomes Back Miller

Posted on 2/4/2016 9:00:34 AM

Laurie Miller never wanted to leave Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She taught at IUP as a full-time temporary faculty member from 2005 to 2008 in what was then the Journalism Department.

Now, the former newspaper journalist, who earned her doctorate in English Literary Criticism while teaching at IUP, has returned to the renamed Journalism and Public Relations Department as an assistant professor.

“I get to live at home again, and I don’t have to keep an apartment,” she said. “I never wanted to leave Indiana.”

Miller, who resides in Mt. Pleasant, spent the last six and a half years as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, where she taught undergraduate and graduate journalism classes and served as faculty advisor for the student newspaper, the Clarion Call, and the Society for Collegiate Journalists.

Miller’s professional career started after she graduated from Point Park College with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications; she landed a job at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, Pa.   

“You start out at the low point,” Miller said. “You’re doing the birthdays, the obituaries, and all that other stuff.” A little more than a year later, Miller was the news editor at the paper.

Shortly thereafter, in 1982 Miller was hired as part of a two-woman editorial team for the Fay-West Tribune-Review, a regional bureau office of the Tribune-Review covering Fayette and Westmoreland counties. She worked as a reporter, photographer, and editor at the Tribune-Review for the next 22 years, first in its bureau offices and then in the newspaper’s Greensburg office. Miller spent her last four years at the Tribune-Review as the editor of Focus, a former Sunday feature magazine.        

While working at the Tribune-Review, Miller earned her master’s degree in journalism and communication at Point Park University and began teaching as an adjunct professor at Point Park and West Virginia University in Morgantown.

“I always wanted to teach,” she said. “I love to write—when I was in grade school, I started a grade school newspaper.”       

In the transition from professional journalist to educator, Indiana came into the picture.        

Miller was hired for a one-year, full-time temporary position in the Journalism Department. On the first day of classes, former professor Bernie Ankney, now chair of the Journalism and Mass Communication Department at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, suggested Miller take advantage of the university’s tuition waiver policy for employees.

This was before IUP offered its doctoral program in Communications Media and Instructional Technology, so Miller chose to study English literary criticism and to focus her research on Willa Cather, a fiction writer whose early career included stints in journalism.

After earning her doctorate, Miller secured a tenure-track position at Clarion.

Miller said she learned a lot in the last six years, but she’s happy to be back at IUP, working with colleagues and students. When she’s not working and enjoying the view from her office in the new Humanities and Social Sciences building, Miller likes to be outdoors. She’s a bicycle enthusiast, and her journeys have included trail rides between Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh and along the Erie Canal in New York. She also enjoys swimming and kayaking.