Lt. Col. Miller inherits MTSU military science chair’s role Aug. 1

Highly decorated U.S. Army Lt. Col. Joel Miller’s next stop in his already full military career will be Murfreesboro and Middle Tennessee State University.

Starting Aug. 1, Miller, 39, will be the new professor of military science and department chair, replacing Lt. Col. Tharrel “TK” Kast, who is retiring from the military but remaining in Murfreesboro to begin a civilian career.

“I’m very excited about coming here and taking over the program,” said Miller, whose previous assignment was in Hawaii for more than three years as a key Army representative at U.S. Army Pacific Command. “It seems to be a great program. It is one of the top schools that I had requested and I’m very pleased to be chosen for this institution.”

Miller shares his early vision for leading the program, now in its sixth decade, which gives students a broad knowledge of Army management, leadership and technical skills preparing them for Army commissions as well as providing leadership and management skills sought throughout the civilian sector, the department’s website (http://www.mtsu.edu/arotc1) reveals.

“Presently, I want to continue to build upon and refine the outstanding program that has been established and maintained by LTC Kast,” Miller said. “From my perspective, all the right building blocks are in place and we will continue to modify and refine them to ensure they remain relevant in the current operational environment so we can continue to produce quality junior leaders for the Army and the nation.”

Miller already has had several visits to MTSU. His first impressions have been extremely favorable.

“As far as MTSU goes, the staff and faculty all have been very receptive and friendly, and they seem to understand the program and why it’s here and important,” Miller said.

Miller said he still remembers visiting Stones River Battlefield as a youngster and has visited Tennessee different times in his life.

Miller, who has spent 22 years in the military, will be at Fort Knox, Ky., from July 9-27, attending a precommand course to help prepare him for the ROTC program.

He said he spent two, 12-month tours in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and was part of the peacekeeping operations in Bosnia.

For his efforts, Miller has been awarded the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service and Army Commendation medals.

Miller attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., from 1990-94, earning a bachelor’s in history and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He earned a master’s in history from Tulane University. He also taught history at West Point.

“The great strength of the Army's officer development is in its diversity,” Miller said when asked how his time at West Point will help him in the MTSU environment. “Officers are commissioned from not only ROTC, but through the Military Academy at West Point as well as through the Officer Candidate School. 

“This diversity and breadth allows the sharing and integration of great ideas and practices. As a former West Point cadet as well as instructor in the academy's Department of History, I hope to continue this process of blending the besttechniques from all sources to ensure we produce the best leaders possible.”

In addition to Iraq and Bosnia, Miller has served at Fort Carson in Colorado and Fort Stewart in Georgia. His duties include both command and staff positions as an armor and cavalry officer.

Miller has two children, a son, Talon, 10, and daughter Kimberlynn, 13, who live in Colorado.

The Reserve Officer Training Corps was established at the then-Middle Tennessee State College in 1950. More than 1,300 Army cadets have gone on to successful military careers. The program has produced 14 general officers.

Military science is one of 10 programs within the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.

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