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Robert D. Miller II, PhD, 1998

Field of Study: PhD in Near Eastern Studies

Graduation Year: 1998

I am an Associate Professor of Old Testament at Catholic University in Washington, DC, where I’ve been teaching for nine years. My education in the Department of Near Eastern Studies provided an invaluable foundation for my teaching, research, and scholarly publications.

My current job is my third position since graduation, following one year teaching at West Virginia University and nine at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. In my present university, I am privileged to teach at three levels—undergraduates, Catholic seminarians, and doctoral students. When I started teaching doctoral students a decade after finishing my own doctorate, I reached back to my time at Michigan and started crafting seminars that are formatted very much like early 90s seminars with Profs. Brian Schmidt, Peter Machinist, and my other teachers. In NES, I learned how to be a scholar and how to do serious research, and I try to instill that in my own students. Seven students whose dissertations I directed have now graduated with their own doctorates.   

I love teaching. Even in the 90s, U of M had a fantastic training program for TAs and graduate student instructors. I still use things I learned in that training, and more importantly that training taught me to value the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and how to tap into it. At both my present and previous institutions, I have won awards for teaching excellence, and I have Michigan to thank for that.

I have a substantial cv of scholarly publications, and that is also testament to the quality of NES’s doctoral program. We learned how to do research and how to write. I learned a lot about structuring the daily routine of an academic’s life from Prof. David Noel Freedman, whom I never had a course with but for whom I TAed and worked as a Research Assistant.  

I am also an archaeologist, although I do far less archaeology than I’d like to. NES encouraged me to work with Michigan’s premiere Anthropology faculty in designing my doctoral program and even on my dissertation committee. When I have students read Henry Wright or Kent Flannery, I can tell them I took courses with them. And more importantly, that training has allowed me to bring anthropology into Syro-Palestinian archaeology in new ways. 

In short, the Department of Near Eastern Studies prepared me to be a teacher and scholar. I don’t think I knew at the time how privileged we were to be trained at Michigan.