Miller Center

About the Miller Center

The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia that specializes in presidential scholarship, public policy, and political history and strives to apply the lessons of history to the nation’s most pressing contemporary governance challenges. Based at the University of Virginia, the Miller Center is committed to work grounded in rigorous scholarship and advanced through civil discourse.

The Miller Center's headquarters, the Faulkner House.

Charlottesville, Virginia

About Us

Media and Press

“History. Policy. Impact.”

Thomas Jefferson’s vision was for the University of Virginia to play a role in serving and advancing American democracy.  In an age of sound bites, short-term fixes, and heightened partisanship, the Miller Center accordingly works to understand the powerful course of events to date and to provide historical insights for the policymaking challenges the country faces today.  These insights put today’s policy debates in perspective, and point toward a framework for practical, lasting solutions in a time when sound nonpartisan thinking grounded in history is certainly needed. In providing insight into the institutions and issues that define our times, the Miller Center engages in four chief types of work:

Studying the institution of the presidency

Former President Jimmy Carter with the interviewers conducting his oral history.

President Jimmy Carter with his team of oral history interviewers. The Carter Oral History began in 1981.

We now conduct the official oral history project of every administration from Presidents Carter to George W. Bush.  We are the only organization in America transcribing and annotating the thousands of hours of secret White House audio tapes of Presidents FDR through Nixon. This work provides first-hand accounts of how previous administrations have dealt with difficult and complex issues.  In addition, the Miller Center website is the leading online resource for information on the institution of the presidency, including in-depth reference essays and rich archival material such as rare audio and video of speeches, on its acclaimed American President site. The Miller Center carries forward the University of Virginia’s unique connection with the U.S. presidency, from the time of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, through Woodrow Wilson.

Serving as a hub in academia for the study of political decision making

Welcome to the Miller Center from presidents Carter, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush.

In addition to the Miller Center’s core faculty, top scholars from other parts of U.Va. hold joint appointments with the Center and leading scholars from throughout the country regularly participate in our programs. Our Fellowship Program for rising scholars completing their dissertations is creating the next generation of engaged public intellectuals and academic leaders. At our conferences, colloquia, and symposia, scholars and fellows explore the historical roots and political context of national and international policy decisionmaking, just as they do in their scholarship.

Encouraging civil discussion

Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ed Rendell debate at the National Governor's Association meeting.

Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ed Rendell debate infrastructure reform in a 2009 Miller Center debate.

The tone of public policy debates in this country has made it difficult to identify constructive solutions to the challenges we face. The Miller Center has worked to create a place where civil discussion can advance our national understanding and interests.  To educate and help elevate public discussion, we regularly sponsor conferences on important issues, and through a partnership with ABC, we host a public debate series to present substantive policy discussions.  And our Forum Program, carried nationally on PBS, offers leading officials, scholars, and journalists the opportunity for in-depth exposition and audience discussion.

Convening bipartisan blue-ribbon commissions

The Miller Center impacts current policy decisions. We convene bipartisan blue-ribbon policy commissions to develop recommendations on vital issues.  For example, our War Powers Commission, co-chaired by Secretaries of State Jim Baker and Warren Christopher, deliberated for fifteen months and then delivered a set of practical, bipartisan recommendations to the president and Congress. In recent years, Presidents George W. Bush and Obama have asked to be briefed personally on the work of the Miller Center three times.

Warren Christopher and James Baker at the Miller Center in 2008.

 Warren Christopher and James Baker co-chaired the Miller Center National War Powers Commission.

The Miller Center’s work is achieved through four distinct but related programs:


The Miller Center was founded in 1975 through the philanthropy of Burkett Miller, a 1914 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and prominent Tennessean. Troubled by the partisan rancor he saw developing throughout the nation, Miller envisioned a place where leaders, scholars, and the public could come together for discussion grounded in history, to find consensus solutions.  He founded the Miller Center in memory of his father, White Burkett Miller. Through Mr. Miller’s lead gift, as well as through past and present gifts by the Center’s thousands of supporters, the Miller Center’s combined endowment now stands at more than $70 million. The Center, under the oversight of its Governing Council, is an integral part of the University of Virginia, with maximum autonomy within the University system. Its programs are supported fully by funds it solicits (through the Miller Center Foundation) and its endowment.


William J. Antholis is Director and CEO at the Miller Center.  Eugene V. Fife, former partner at Goldman Sachs and founding principal of Vawter Capital, is the chair of the Center’s Governing Council, and Joseph R. Gladden, Jr., former executive vice president and general counsel of Coca-Cola, is the chair of the Miller Center Foundation’s Board of Directors.  Former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton was instrumental in founding the Miller Center and remains an active member of both its Governing Council and Foundation Board. The president and rector of the University of Virginia serve as ex officio members of both bodies.

Miller Center Scholars

The annual Caplin Conference on the World Economy draws scholars and experts from around the world.

At the heart of the Miller Center is the exceptional scholarship of its faculty. Our scholars are leaders in their fields, studying political decision making and its impact on policy development, with regards to the presidency and to U.S. policy more broadly.  This scholarship can point to major practical insights.  The Miller Center annually supports nearly 40 full-time or visiting scholars, including the former dean of the College, the current and two most recent chairs of the University’s department of politics, and the former president of the American Political Science Association. Our U.Va. faculty and visiting scholars together have written or edited more than 300 books, two of which were awarded the prestigious Bancroft Prize, the most distinguished award in the field of U.S. history. In recent years, work by our scholars has been published by leading commercial houses such as W. W. Norton and Rowman and Littlefield and university presses such as Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, Cornell, and Chicago.

Kent Germany in the Miller Center's John and Rosemary Galbraith Forum Room.

Kent Germany speaks about Lyndon Johnson's presidential recordings, 2011.

The Miller Center’s National Fellowship Program has mentored over 150 doctoral candidates of the highest caliber and created an enduring network of public policy and history scholars. Today 102 former fellows who have been awarded this National Fellowship during the program’s 16-year history now hold tenure or tenure-track positions at leading colleges and universities.  They have published or edited 71 books with major presses, including Princeton University Press, Cornell University Press and Cambridge University Press. Fellows are drawn from leading departments of history, political science and sociology, world-wide. Besides the 32 from the University of Virginia, 11 fellows from Yale, 10 from Columbia, and 9 from Princeton join the ranks of this prestigious fellowship in shedding light on American politics and engaging in public-facing discourse on today’s most pressing policy issues. 

Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, the National Fellowship Program, a longstanding initiative of the Miller Center, will fall under the leadership of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation at U.Va.. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation, created in 1980, currently offers the premier graduate fellowship and undergraduate scholarship at the University. To learn more about the National Fellows Program, including how to apply, click here.

Charlottesville Office

Fittingly, in its role as a national meeting place, the Miller Center enjoys an elegant physical plant of more than 15,000 square feet. The core of the Center’s facilities is the historic Faulkner House, built in 1856 and named for novelist William Faulkner, the University’s writer-in-residence in 1957. Faulkner House was the home of Senator Thomas S. Martin, who represented Virginia in the U.S. Senate from 1895 to 1919 and served as majority leader. In 1989 the Center added the Newman Pavilion, which houses the Forum Room, and in 2003 it built the Thompson Pavilion and Scripps Library. The additions are prominent examples of new traditional architecture.  Learn more about the history of Faulkner House and the Center.