Tim Miller is one proud husband. “He claims to this day that he married the founding president and only member of the little known Augsburg Car-Starting Program,” laughs Deb (Anderson) Miller ’72. Deb and Tim met when she was an Auggie education major, he was a pre-med student at the University of Minnesota, and they both worked part-time at St. Mary’s Hospital in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Tim parked across the street at Augsburg. After they started dating, Deb made frequent trips outside to start his car during the frigid Minnesota winters. Thus, they say, was the start of “The Miller Team,” a partnership marked by deep faith, hard work, profound challenges, and great joy.
The Millers have created a charitable foundation focused on supporting healthcare and education organizations like Augsburg. “We’re not taking any of the tangible things with us,” explains Tim. “It’s our responsibility to assist with the development of others.” After supporting the Augsburg Fund for many years, they recently made a commitment to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR). A chemistry faculty office will be named in recognition of their gift. The Millers see the blending of these three philosophies (Science, Business, and Religion) as unique, thoughtful, and intriguing—and most importantly, symbolic of the College’s entire mission.
Lifting others up
“Augsburg is a gem that does not just work on creating a glittering façade,” they say. “It exists to build people up so that they can go out into the world to lift it up.” Deb says she was a “quiet little mouse” when she left Jackson, Minnesota, for Augsburg in 1968. “I really had little exposure to the big picture of life,” she recalls. “Augsburg changed me and changed the direction of my life.” By volunteering with children’s organizations around the Twin Cities and teaching Sunday school in North Minneapolis, Deb became more aware of others’ fears and difficulties. “Today, Augsburg retains a singular focus on helping people grow and increasing their self-awareness so they can help the world,” says Deb. “If anything, the message of service is even stronger today than it ever was.”
Inspired by faculty
At Augsburg, Deb met inspirational figures like education professor Marie McNeff, whose progressive educational philosophies shaped Deb’s own teaching style. “She was far ahead of her time,” explains Deb. “She taught us that a true teacher considers what is now known as the ‘whole person’ and welcomes everyone, regardless of their needs or gifts.” One of Deb’s part-time jobs was helping Chaplain Orlin Mandsager with childcare, and she became close to the family in the process. “Chapel came to be a very significant part of my life,” she remembers. “It was very grounding to take that moment out of the regular routine.”
Strengthening the core of each person
“All of these experiences helped me become more self-aware,” she explains. “I began to embrace the Augsburg message that I mattered as an individual, and that even I had the potential to benefit the world.”
Deb went on to teach middle school in New Prague, Minnesota, for many years, and Tim became a physician. Together, they raised three children: Daughter Adina is an ER physician like her father, and Brittany is an oncology RN and mother of triplets. Nate ’06 is a paramedic. Nate, who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a pre-schooler, participated in Augsburg’s CLASS program, which helps academically qualified students with disabilities reach their individual potential. “Tim and I became involved with the Parent and Family Council during Nate’s years at Augsburg and fell in love with Augsburg all over again,” says Deb.
“We discovered anew that Augsburg walks its talk….It lives out what it asserts to be.”