David Y. Miller, PhD
- Founding Advisor
The Passing and Legacy of Dr. Dave Miller, Founding Advisor of CONNECT
November 18, 2020
Dear CONNECT Executive Committee,
I'm so very sad to share the news of the passing of our friend Dave, our founding advisor, our region's biggest fan, our greatest champion at the University of Pittsburgh, and the incredible spark plug for so much of what CONNECT is today.
I know many of you have been on this journey with Dave from the beginning, and to you and to him, I must express my intense feelings of gratitude and share his beautiful feelings of optimism and admiration for your collective work. I have those same feelings for those of you who have joined in these later years, as CONNECT evolves into this epic intergovernmental, collaborative force. Some of you may never have met him, but he celebrated each new representative to the Executive Committee as if CONNECT had another baby-truly joyous moments.
As complex as our region, are these feelings coupled with the extreme feelings of grief and loss of a great mind and kind, brave soul. But so much of Dave Miller will live on in every meeting we show up for and every relationship we build and strengthen even when it's hard.
The relationships so many of us now have through CONNECT are because of his dedication to creating this culture in our network and I know we will prioritize this for as long as we need to exist-which the funder who endowed us with one million dollars earlier this year believes will likely be forever. Attached is a photo I treasure, taken moments after the meeting in which CONNECT was awarded our endowment and our shared work so deeply validated. Dave Miller was the dream mentor and boss I never knew could exist. Personally, I'm devastated from the loss of this force in my life but so very bolstered by all of you.
When the realities of COVID-19 set in earlier this year, Dave, though still so sick, checked in daily, concerned for the wellbeing of each member community and ensuring that we as staff were not only ok but keeping CONNECT together. He stressed we can't do what we need to if we aren't face-to-face and tasked us with getting everyone comfortable and on camera-and taking care of ourselves.
Hard to remember now, but only months ago, getting on camera took the same bravery as coming to that first CONNECT meeting 12 years ago. Our first zoom meeting in March is still one of my most favorite CONNECT moments-and without Dave's dedication to us, it wouldn't have happened. It ended up a rally for everything we've done and everything we still need to do together-as well as the rapid sharing of information, resources, terrifying pandemic-related challenges-and potential innovation opportunities.
Stronger together is our mantra, and that day, seeing so many of your faces on screen for the first time and hearing your calls to stay together and get through this together, truly brought it to life. It was this moment I knew for sure Dave would live on through CONNECT no matter what happened in the coming months.
I would like to invite everyone to reply with stories about Dave, photos and ideas for memorializing his legacy within CONNECT-along with ideas for what our Executive Committee should send to his family, who shared him so selflessly with us all. A couple of our staff and officers have already begun sharing ideas for a grand memorial event next summer from CONNECT for our whole region and university community to celebrate the past, present and future of the legacy of Dr. David Young Miller.
Lydia Morin, CONNECT Executive Director