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Andrew Miller, MD’79, and Christine Miller establish endowed scholarship

UMass alums have a long history of giving back

Date Posted: Dec 8, 2020

 

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Tina and Andy Miller

For more than 40 years, Andrew ‘Andy’ Miller, MD’79, has been a leader in his communities, both the small town where he relished being the “town doc” and at the institutions that launched his career in primary care. At every step of the way, Christine ‘Tina’ Miller has been a partner.

Regular annual donors to UMass Medical School for decades, the Millers decided last year to secure their impact for generations to come by endowing the Christine and Andrew Miller, MD’79, Scholarship for Medical Students. Beginning in 2021, an annual award will go to a School of Medicine student with demonstrated economic need.

“At first, we thought about endowing this scholarship as a legacy, as part of our will,” Dr. Miller said. “But after attending the annual scholarship dinners, and hearing the students tell their stories, which were so inspiring, we said, wait a minute… Why wait until we’re dead? Let’s do this now, and get to know the students and enjoy helping them while we’re alive.”

Dr. Miller is an associate professor of medicine at UMass Medical School and was chief of the Division of Community Internal Medicine at UMass Memorial Medical Center for the past 15 years. After graduating from UMMS in 1979, he completed an internal medicine residency at the former Memorial Hospital in Worcester. Dr. Miller then went into private practice as “the town doc” in Douglas, Mass., which, at the time, was an underserved community.

“Since the day we graduated, we became donors to UMass because it’s part of our values to give back,” he said.

“We were both so lucky to get a great education at UMass, so we want to pay it forward and help medical students today."

Dr. Miller often uses the plural “we” when speaking about his activities, as does Tina, because this couple of more than 50 years works together as a team in most aspects of their lives. They’re both from New Bedford and they both went to the University of Massachusetts—Andy for medical school and Tina at UMass Amherst, where she studied communications disorders.

“Back then we paid the same tuition, and it was far more affordable,” Tina remembered. “We were both so lucky to get a great education at UMass, so we want to pay it forward and help medical students today. Because as we all know, it’s not as affordable now.”

After graduating from UMass Amherst, Tina earned a master’s degree at the University of Vermont and began practicing as a speech pathologist. She’s worked with students in several Central Massachusetts public schools, and eventually became a speech pathology instructor at Worcester State College (now Worcester State University). She’s also been closely aligned with her husband’s medical practice, Douglas Internal Medicine, serving as its business manager for several years until it became part of the UMass Memorial Medical Group in 1994.

In addition to serving three, and sometimes four generations of the same families, the Douglas clinic has been a major teaching site for medical students and residents. “I have always enjoyed the teaching aspect, and I’m really proud that many of my students have gone into primary care,” he said.

Dr. Miller was an active member of the UMMS Alumni Association, serving as vice president and treasurer for 30 years and on numerous committees. He has received multiple awards from UMMS and UMass Memorial Medical Center, including the Medical Directors Award in 1992; teaching awards in 1998 and 1999; a Medical Staff Peer Recognition Award in 2005; a Department of Medicine Recognition Award in 2007; and a Champion of Excellence Award in 2011.

Today, Dr. Miller sits on the UMMS admissions committee, where he advocates for building diverse classes with talented students who share his commitment to providing primary care in underserved communities.

“I believe it’s essential for public health today that we have doctors who are from all communities, and who can effectively represent and provide care for those communities.”

Tina retired in 2009, when their first grandchild was born, and Andy continues to see patients and teach in the clinic, though he has announced plans to retire from practicing medicine in 2021. His essential advice to aspiring doctors is, “Find your passion. Do only what you really like to do, and then everything else will fall into place.”


Learn more about scholarships at UMMS