Highly decorated U.S. Army Lt. Col. Joel Miller’s next stop in his already full military career will be Murfreesboro and MTSU.
Miller will be the new professor of military science and department chair effective Aug. 1, replacing Lt. Col. Tharrel “TK” Kast, who is retiring but remaining in Murfreesboro to begin a civilian career.
“I’m very excited about coming here and taking over the program,” said Miller, 39, whose previous assignment was in Hawaii for 3½ years as a key Army representative at U.S. Army Pacific Command.
“It seems to be a great program. It is one of the top schools that I had requested, and I’m very pleased to be chosen for this institution.”
The program, now in its sixth decade, gives students a broad knowledge of Army management, leadership and technical skills to prepare them for Army commissions as well as providing leadership and management skills sought throughout the civilian sector, according to the department’s website at www.mtsu.edu/arotc1.
“I want to continue to build upon and refine the outstanding program that has been established and maintained by Lt. Col. Kast,” Miller said. “From my perspective, all the right building blocks are in place, and we will continue to modify and refine them to ensure they remain relevant in the current operational environment so we can continue to produce quality junior leaders for the Army and the nation.”
Miller already has had several visits to MTSU. His first impressions have been extremely favorable.
“As far as MTSU goes, the staff and faculty all have been very receptive and friendly, and they seem to understand the program and why it’s here and important,” Miller said.
The new leader said he also remembers visiting Stones River National Battlefield as a youngster and has visited Tennessee different times in his life.
Miller, who has spent 22 years in the military, will be at Fort Knox, Ky., July 9-27 to attend a precommand course to help prepare him for the ROTC program.
He said he spent two 12-month tours in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and was part of the peacekeeping operations in Bosnia. Miller has been awarded the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service and Army Commendation medals.
Miller attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., from 1990 to 1994, earning a bachelor’s in history and a commission as a second lieutenant. He earned a master’s in history from Tulane University and also taught history at West Point.
“The great strength of the Army’s officer development is in its diversity,” Miller said. “Officers are commissioned from not only ROTC, but through the Military Academy at West Point as well as through the Officer Candidate School.
“This diversity and breadth allows the sharing and integration of great ideas and practices. As a former West Point cadet as well as instructor in the academy’s Department of History, I hope to continue this process of blending the best techniques from all sources to ensure we produce the best leaders possible.”
Miller also served at Fort Carson in Colorado and Fort Stewart in Georgia. His duties include both command and staff positions as an armor and cavalry officer.
The Reserve Officer Training Corps was established at the then-Middle Tennessee State College in 1950. More than 1,300 Army cadets have gone on to successful military careers. The MTSU military science program in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences has produced 14 general officers.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)