Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Brandon Miller was the special guest at the Queer Talk Show put on by the UW Oshkosh LGBTQ Resource Center to talk about his experience at UWO as a gay man.
The event was held in the Campus Center for Equity and Diversity on Nov. 15 and was open to all UWO students and staff.
Miller was born and raised in Texas and attended the Southern Baptist church where his mother was a minister.
“Well for me, home will always be Texas,” Miller said. “What I have learned, however, is that home is where your heart is, home is where you feel safe where you can learn and grow.”
UWO senior Shauna Van Domelen said she believes seeing someone from the LGBTQ community like Miller hold an office position at the University is important.
“Brandon brings a visibility,” Van Domelen said. “Seeing someone who is concerned with issues, not just LGBTQ students, but all students, sends a message that we are not just concerned about ourselves, and we want to help everybody.”
Miller said he found Wisconsin surprisingly welcoming and nice and that he is able to call Wisconsin and UWO home.
“One of things I realized when I first moved to Wisconsin since I have moved here is that in Texas, people are honest while here in Wisconsin they are kind,” Miller said. “However, the lack of diversity has been a shock in Wisconsin.”
Miller said he had no hesitation about applying to UWO after previously working at universities that would not let him be an out gay man.
“Baylor is the world’s largest protestant church,” Miller said. “They are making a lot of progress but have a long way to go. I was there for six years before I was fired, and I wasn’t able to be myself during those years.”
Director of the LGBTQ Resource Center, Liz Cannon, said it is important to the UWO community for a gay man to be in the administration office.
“If we are to create a community that is truly respectful for all opinions we have to learn about opinions that are not our own,” Cannon said. “That means we have to learn about all identities different from our own. This is just one example.”
At UWO, Miller has also taken on the task of being Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs in addition to his current position.
“The position is one that keeps you on your toes and keeps you young,” Miller said. “It’s [an] evolving position, we didn’t have many of the issues that are going on now when I first started in academics in 1996. For me this isn’t just a profession, it is my calling.”
Miller said he is humbled by being labeled as a role model here for the LGBTQ students and staff at UWO.
“I have never even thought of that,” Miller said. “It is something that is humbling, but also very challenging. We are all human, and we all make mistakes, but I am glad that I can work in a position I care deeply about, at a place I care deeply about where I can be myself.”
Miller said that in the aftermath of the election, it is more important than ever students on campus feel safe, and that is one of his priorities as Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.
“Hearing what was happening on different campuses, I woke up Thursday morning knowing that we needed to address the situation,” Miller said. “We drafted the statement about the resources that were available. We have been very lucky that we haven’t had any incidents happen on this campus like other UW system campuses post-election.”
Van Domelen said she felt like the email sent out to UWO was beneficial to students on campus.
“Getting that email definitely helped,” Van Domelen said. “Considering the recent events that we have had, it is helpful to have someone who is openly gay and so high up in staff to say their perspective and what they will do to help.”
Miller said he is proud to be able to work with UWO in making progress in diversity a priority, but there is still work to be done.
“I think that the LGBTQ community here at Oshkosh is one of our hallmarks,” Miller said. “We are an inclusive community, and it has helped us. While there still [is] room for improvements, we are becoming a place that students think is a good place.”