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Andrew Miller, MD’79, and Christine Miller

Dean's Council charter members

The Millers' tale

Miller, Andy and Tina.jpg

They both grew up in New Bedford but didn’t meet until high school. Andy asked Tina to his NBHS senior prom. She said yes, and so their story began.

Andy wanted to be a doctor. Tina wanted to be a speech pathologist. They both wanted to raise a family. Now, more than 50 years after prom night, Andrew ‘Andy’ and Christine ‘Tina’ Miller look back with gratitude, having accomplished so much as a team.

“Not only did Tina put me through medical school, she actually got me into medical school,” Andy said.

It was 1975 and Andy had already applied twice to UMass Medical School. Figuring it was time for Plan B, Andy enrolled in a master’s program at Clark University and set his sights on becoming an immunologist.

But Tina held onto Andy’s dream for him. She sent in an application to UMMS, in his name, for a third time. Fortunately, it was the year the medical school expanded its incoming class size from 64 to 100, and Andy was accepted. “We don’t know if he was number 65 or number 100, but it doesn’t really matter,” Tina said.

At the time, the couple lived in Leominster and Tina was working as a speech pathologist in the public schools. When the acceptance letter arrived by mail, she drove down to Worcester to deliver the news in person.

“I’ll never forget the day,” Andy said. “I was in the lab at Clark, cleaning out rat cages, and Tina came running in yelling, ‘you got in!’ And I didn’t even know I had applied.”

Andy went to medical school full time while Tina worked full time. “You can’t put someone through medical school on a teacher’s salary today, but back then we could,” Tina said. “We were very fortunate in that way, that UMass was so affordable.”

After graduating from UMMS in 1979 and then completing his residency, Andy had his eye on a medical practice in Douglas, where the only doctor in town was aging and preparing to retire.

"It's part of our values to give back ... We're so glad to be able to support future physicians in this way."

“Since I was 7 or 8 years old, I wanted to be a small-town doctor. The idea of caring for generations and generations of the same families, and being part of the community, just appealed to me,” Andy said.

But like everything in the Miller household, taking over that practice in Douglas was to be a joint decision. “He said, ‘I have a deal for you. I’ll do the medicine and you do the business,’” Tina remembered. “And that’s what we did.”

It worked well for many years, the couple said. They welcomed two children into the world, and life revolved around the home. “For the first few years, I literally practiced out of our house,” Andy said. “It was a true mom-and-pop business.”

Tina learned how to manage a medical practice so well, she developed a consulting business to help other physicians in the “Quiet Corner” of Connecticut in setting up their practices. Over time, the Millers moved their practice to a medical building they built; in 1994, the UMass Memorial Medical Group invited Andy to merge his practice with the larger group.

Today, Andy is associate professor of medicine at UMass Medical School and was chief of the Division of Community Internal Medicine at UMass Memorial Medical Center. He continues to see patients and mentor students, though he has announced his plan to retire next summer (2021). Tina retired in 2009 when their first grandchild was born.

“We’re looking forward to a great decade, spending a lot of time with our children and grandchildren,” Andy said.

Since their respective graduations, Andy and Tina have been consistent and generous supporters of UMass Medical School—both as annual donors and, most recently, by endowing the Christine and Andrew Miller, MD’79, Scholarship for Medical Students.

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

"It's part of our values to give back,” Andy said. “We’re so glad to be able to support future physicians in this way."