Dr Jeffrey Miller AM 1932 - 2013

17 September 2013

Dr Jeffrey Miller, founding Principal, Cumberland College of Health Science
Dr Jeffrey Miller, founding Principal, Cumberland College of Health Science

Dr Jeffrey Miller AM, founding principal of Cumberland College of Health Science, passed away 13 August 2013 aged 80.

"Dr Miller positioned us extremely well when we were a CAE (College of Advanced Education)" said the current Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Kathryn Refshauge. "As a CAE Cumberland had international credibility, and a great reputation in the whole region."

Dr Miller AM was an educator, visionary, innovator and passionate advocate for the allied health professions.

Dr Miller innovated changes to, and pioneered the growth and development of Australia's allied health sciences training domain spanning two decades. Dr Miller was insightful, compassionate and wished to better peoples' lives.

Jeffrey Owen Miller was born in 1932, son to Albert Edgar Miller (high school teacher) and Grace Miller. After completing his schooling at Canterbury Boys High School, he started his career as a physical education teacher in 1952 having gained a Diploma in Physical Education. From these beginnings, and over the next five decades, he worked in diverse educational settings that included a period in Mpwapwa Tanzania as a teacher trainer funded by a UNESCO teaching scholarship. He was also a lecturer at Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education and at the University of NSW. Over this early period in his career, he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Education degree both at the University of Sydney. In 1968, he was awarded a Doctorate in Education (Ed D) by the University of Oregon (USA).

In 1986, Dr Miller was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to education. In 1988 he was made an Honorary Professor of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College in recognition of his drive and influence in raising the profile and status of health sciences throughout Asia.

Dr Miller was the founding principal of what, in late 1972, was initially styled the New South Wales College of Paramedical Studies. This college brought together a number of allied health disciplines that up to that time had been supported largely by various professional associations. In 1975, the name of the college was changed to Cumberland College of Health Sciences. This college was charged with delivering cutting-edge allied health sciences training programs for the major allied health science professions including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, orthoptics and post-registration nursing. The School of Physiotherapy operated the largest training program of its kind world-wide. At a later date, medical record administration was included within the college's offerings.

Under Dr Miller's visionary leadership, Cumberland College developed a world-wide reputation for excellence in health sciences teaching and research and was pivotal in guiding educational development across the Asia and Western Pacific regions. The college and the Cumberland Foundation conducted projects, trained community-based rehabilitation experts and initiated exchange programs with the United Nations Children's Fund, the Asian Development Bank, the Australian Development Assistance Bureau and the World Health Organisation. The college received World Health Organisation status as the WHO Collaborating Centre for Rehabilitation in the Western Pacific region.

In addition to his role as principal of Cumberland College, Dr Miller promoted and enhanced the work of the Cumberland Foundation. This Foundation was formed in 1980 and sponsored post-graduate professionals as they shared their knowledge and expertise across communities. This included work in China, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Hong Kong, Thailand, Pakistan and Indonesia. In the late 1990s through to 2002, Dr Miller provided strategic advice on allied health services with the World Health Organisation in Geneva and also in Kobe, Japan. Through the Foundation, he was engaged by the Australian Government to promote and raise the profile of and advocacy for Australia's national disability movement and the associated health planning required. He provided exceptional inspiration to all with whom he connected and always was ready to provide encouragement and to share his enthusiasm.

Over 25 years, along with a dedicated Foundation and College team, Dr Miller charismatically led this innovative institution as it delivered the allied health sciences agenda to world recognised levels. His legacy endures to this day. Dr Miller retired in 1990 when Cumberland College was amalgamated with the University of Sydney. He continued to shape the allied health sciences agenda in senior consultant roles.

Dr Miller passed away at his home at Gerroa. He is survived by children Gregory (Kathy), David (Kathy) and Elisabeth (Michael), grandchildren Joshua (Elise), Brenton, Kristin, Aaron, Olivia, Isobelle, Lachlan and great granddaughter Grace.