University of Rochester

Rochester Review
March-April 2009
Vol. 71, No. 4

Review home


In Review

Namesake History: ‘A Lifelong Avocation’
miller HISTORY MAJOR: Distinguished legal scholar and commentator Arthur Miller ’56 says history may have been the “perfect major” for launching his career. (Photo: New York University)

“I love history,” says Arthur Miller ’56. “It’s a lifelong avocation.”

Miller is commemorating that regard, and his affection for the Department of History, where he was a major, by establishing the Arthur R. Miller Professorship in History. Thomas Slaughter, who joined the University this year from the University of Notre Dame, is the first to hold the professorship.

“History may have been the perfect major for me, in that it was sufficiently connected to the law that I made it my career and spent my life in the law. I just loved it,” Miller recalls. “I had terrific teachers, one of whom was Arthur May.”

Today Miller is a distinguished legal scholar, an expert in civil litigation, copyright, and privacy. Familiar to national audiences from his work as a legal commentator for television, Miller taught for 36 years at Harvard University and is now University Professor at the New York University School of Law.

Endowed professorships “enable you to reach out and attract faculty of a caliber that might not otherwise be available. It’s an important benchmark of the quality of an institution,” says Miller. “If you’re in the business of waking up and exposing young minds to ideas, the best way to do that is to expose them to people who are truly gifted.”

Stewart Weaver, the chair of the history department, lauds the hiring of Slaughter that Miller’s professorship made possible.

“Tom Slaughter is a most notable addition to the American history faculty at the University,” he says. “Beyond introducing valuable new courses to our curriculum, he brings with him one of the leading journals in his field, Reviews in American History. As holder of the new Arthur Miller Professorship, he will be a prominent representative of the Department of History and of Rochester in the scholarly community at large.”

As Miller sees it, investing in the faculty by establishing a professorship has far-reaching benefits for the University.

“Anything that can support the quality of the faculty has tremendous value-added for the University in terms of the quality of the education it gives its students, and its own reputation,” he says.

—Kathleen McGarvey