Jane Miller’s “three families” were all in attendance on Sept. 18 when she accepted the Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award at the U.Va. Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library.
The award is presented annually by the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center in memory of Elizabeth Zintl, who served as Chief of Staff in the Office of the President at the University. Given to a woman employee at U.Va., the award honors the high degree of professionalism, creativity and commitment that characterized Zintl.
In Miller’s acceptance speech for the award, she first recognized her immediate family in the audience, of which included siblings and their significant others who traveled from afar. They sat together near the front, taking photos with Miller afterward and congratulating her.
Miller described her mother as her “hero,” recalling the time when she got a new guidance counselor after her mother disagreed with the assessment of her daughter not being “college material.” Following this anecdote, audience members laughed as Miller described her father, who was “a man of few words” and who focused on “attention to detail” and “going by the book” – as evidenced by Miller’s memory of him counting every stroke and never taking a mulligan when golfing. She cites her parents as strong examples to follow then and now.
Video from the award ceremony:
Opening remarks by Women’s Center Director Sharon Davie
Athletic Director Littlepage’s remarks begin at 8:18
Jane Miller’s remarks begin at 19:52
As the Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Programs since 2001 and a 31-year veteran of the department, Miller’s “second family” within Athletics lauded her with praise when she accepted the Zintl award. Director of Athletics Craig Littlepage gave her introduction, describing Miller as “among our best,” when listing the names of coaches and administrators in the department.
In response, Miller said, “I admire Craig for [his] character, commitment to family, sincere interest in the welfare of people, selfless acts of kindness, and for [his] commitment to this University […]” With humility, she added that she is “fortunate to work with some of the best coaches in the country.”
Women’s basketball coach Joanne Boyle, along with others in Athletics, was in the ceremony’s audience. Miller even quoted Boyle during her speech saying, “Everybody has a story to tell,” which Boyle had said at the Young Women Leaders Program fundraising luncheon in May.
Lastly, the “third family” Miller described in her speech was of the University, as a whole. As a self-proclaimed introvert, Miller said she found it difficult to work in administration at first, but has, over time, built unique relationships with many “brilliant people.”
During Women’s Center Director Sharon Davie’s welcome message to the event, she fondly recalls when she first met Miller at a committee meeting on women in sports as part of a taskforce in 1988, set in the basement of Cabell Hall. Davie asked Miller, “Is there equity in sports […] Is there anything missing?” According to Davie, Miller was “forthright about what was missing.” Miller mentioned uniforms, transportation and, most importantly, not enough practice time on good playing fields.
“Jane was central in changing that,” Davie said.
“Often behind the scenes, Jane has been a powerhouse for gender equity for a long time at this University. For me, she is simply the outstanding leader in making Title IX come alive in U.Va. sports.”
Miller now joins the ranks of former Zintl Leadership Award recipients, such as Vice Provost and Administration for Chief of Staff Anda Webb, 2012 winner; and Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer Patricia Lampkin, 1998 winner.
Miller concluded her remarks at the ceremony with saying how “the collective power of her three families” has shaped her, challenged her and “brought her to a place she never really envision would be possible.”
Story by Agnes Filipowski
Photos by Michelle Cho