Expanding International Efforts: Brenau Creates the Miller Institute for Global Education

Brenau University established the Miller Institute for Global Education to guide its internationalization plans that aim to increase student global awareness, a key initiative of the university’s mission and strategic plan.

The institute is funded by an estate gift from Pete Miller, who has served as a Brenau trustee since 1998, and his wife, Cathy.

“As we move into the future, Brenau University will continue to meet the changing needs of our community and the world,” said Brenau President Anne Skleder. “Thanks to the generosity of Pete and Cathy Miller, one of the key ways we will achieve this strategic goal is through the Miller Institute for Global Education. I am excited about the opportunities the institute will provide to send students from Brenau around the world and for the university to bring the world to Gainesville-Hall County.

The establishment of the institute builds on the Miller family’s support of International Studies at Brenau who established the Pete and Cathy Miller Family Endowment in 2006 to bring international students to Brenau and enable international experiences from Brenau. These areas of focus will be expanded by the new institute, which will be overseen by Rosi Ponce, executive director of international strategy and partnerships at Brenau.

The Miller endowment has helped Brenau create government-level partnerships in China and Panama, and the institute will facilitate the expansion of these models to cover other regions of the world. The new institute will also support Brenau students’ pursuit of highly competitive international opportunities such as the Boren Awards, Benjamin A. Gilman Fellowships, and the Fulbright US Student Program.

Dr. James Eck, provost and vice president of academic affairs, says the Miller endowment has benefited hundreds of people in Brenau.

“The establishment of the Pete and Cathy Miller Family Endowment in 2006 allowed Brenau to aggressively pursue its global education efforts, and the impact of the Miller Family Endowment has been profound,” Eck said. “More than 400 students, faculty and staff have benefited from funding related to this endowment. Of this number, more than 250 American students have undertaken international experiences in Mexico, Great Britain, France, Italy and China.

Ponce joined Brenau in 2020 and knows firsthand how transformative education and global experiences can be personally and professionally. She spent most of her adulthood living in countries around the world.

“I’ve been blessed to grow as a human being after every place I’ve been and with every person I’ve met on this journey,” Ponce says. “Through the Miller Institute for Global Education, it will be exciting to help Brenau students from all disciplines find the same opportunities to grow, cultivate mutual understanding with people around the world, and develop skills that will make them more marketable in the 21st century. ”

Miller retired in 2010 as regional president of Regions Financial Corp. and began working with Willis Investment Counsel in Gainesville soon after his retirement. He holds a degree in finance from Georgia State University and an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Brenau.