McNeil-Miller to speak at spring commencement

Karen McNeil-Miller, center, president of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust (Photo by Bennett Scarborough)

BUIES CREEK — Since the day Campbell University announced it would launch a medical school with a focus on meeting rural health needs in North Carolina, the university has developed a close relationship with the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, a Winston-Salem nonprofit whose mission is to improve the quality of life and health for the state’s financially needy.

Karen McNeil-Miller, president of Kate B. Reynolds and advocate for health science education at Campbell, has been tabbed as the commencement speaker for the university’s main graduation ceremony, scheduled for 9 a.m. on May 10 in the John W. Pope, Jr. Convocation Center. The ceremony will include undergraduate and graduate students of the School of Education, Lundy-Fetterman School of Business and College of Arts & Sciences.

“Campbell is pleased and proud to have Dr. Karen McNeil-Miller serve as our 2014 commencement speaker,” said Campbell President Jerry Wallace. “The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust is one of North Carolina’s premier philanthropic and charitable organizations, and I cannot think of a stronger advocate for our state’s underserved populations than Dr. McNeil-Miller. The mission of Campbell University and Kate B. Reynolds go hand in hand.”

McNeil-Miller’s introduction to Campbell came in August 2012 during a ceremony for a $4 million combined gift to the medical school from Kate B. Reynolds and the Golden Leaf Foundation. She was also on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine the following year. “We have a dream that North Carolina will someday have the problem of being overwhelmed with primary care physicians,” she said then. “The opening of this school helps us get one step closer to our dream come true.”

Last week, McNeil-Miller visited Campbell again for Kate B. Reynolds’ annual Innovations in Rural Health Awards, held in Butler Chapel. There, she reflected on her two-year relationship with Campbell.

“Before the medical school, I didn’t know much about Campbell at all,” said McNeil-Miller, who earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from UNC-Greensboro and her doctorate from Vanderbilt University. “But we’ve been very impressed by the university’s commitment to train doctors to serve rural communities. The focus of our Trust is rural health for the financially needy. President Wallace and I have developed a wonderful kinship these past few years, and I was honored to be asked to speak at commencement.”

A first-generation college graduate herself, McNeil-Miller said she will likely talk to her mother before commencement for inspiration.

“I know there will be a lot of first-generation graduates in this class, and I want to speak to them as well,” she said. “I will talk to my mother beforehand and capture her thinking back when I was ready to graduate. I want to know what it meant to her … her feelings on that day.”

Prior to joining Kate B. Reynolds, McNeil-Miller spent 16 years with the Center for Creative Leadership, an international leadership development and research nonprofit organization headquartered in Greensboro. She is a former special education teacher and head of the Piedmont School, an independent school for children with learning difficulties.

McNeil-Miller is active within the nonprofit community, serving as a board member for many organizations, including Forsyth Futures, North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research, North Carolina Institute of Medicine, the Centre for Development and Population Activities, and the Southeastern Council on Foundations.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was founded in 1947, and today its mission is to improve the quality of life and the quality of health for financially needy North Carolinians. With 75 percent of its more than $28 million in annual funding devoted to health care, the Trust has identified several areas of emphasis including access to primary care, community-centered prevention, diabetes and mental health and substance abuse.


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