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Helping the Younger Generation Grow

Posted by on Thursday, June 16, 2011 in Giving, Summer 2011.

Roberta and Don Miller

When Roberta and Don Miller were pursuing their doctorates at Peabody in the early 1990s, they undertook a special project that examined funding in higher education. That’s when they made a $1 million dollar commitment to the school.

“When you become older you change your focus from buying things to helping people,” Don (MEd’89, EdD’92) says. “We decided it was time for us to start giving back, and we just liked the idea of helping Peabody because it was so important to us.”

The Millers believe that business, education and entrepreneurship are intertwined.

“From a business perspective, we believe that you use your education to multiply your worth which gives you the capacity to reinvest in educational institutions so that others can be educated,” Roberta (MALS’64, EdD’92) says. “That’s cross-generational dynamics—when the older generation helps the younger one grow through education.”

The Millers have established six charitable gift annuities that will benefit Peabody in the future. In the meantime, the annuities provide the couple with income that’s guaranteed for life.

“We really want to encourage others to consider this as a creative form of giving,” Roberta says. “In this economy it’s a good way to stabilize your income, and it certainly gives you some tax advantages. But the main thing is that it leaves our wealth exactly where we want it to be left.”

As hard workers and lifelong learners, the Millers say that the word “retire” isn’t in their vocabulary. A recent gerontology course taught them that there is new evidence supporting the theory that generous people live longer, further supporting their philanthropic nature.

“Once you release your money, you don’t worry about it anymore,” says Don. “It’s a good feeling to know that you’re able to give back to an entity that was so good to you.”


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