July 11, 2012
by Alfonso Kravitz
Just days before his exit from CSU, we managed to sit down with Paul Miller to talk about his career and favorite color.
Paul was raised in a house built in 1830 in Ohio. After breakfast one morning, he decided to move wholesale to Colorado because it seemed like such a cool place to be, and because the houses were more modern.
He put his dishes in the sink, threw his carpetbag, Miller beer signs, and 10-speed bicycle onto a train in Chicago, and motored West to begin a new chapter. Historians think it was Chapter 4.
At CSU, he lived in Ellis Hall, which doesn’t exist anymore. He wanted to be a biologist so he could commune with trees and stuff, but he couldn’t pass introductory chemistry. Or biology. Or math. After one semester, he moved to liberal arts, a comfortable place to commune with words, as he discovered.
Paul made his big move in the late 1970s, when A.R. Chamberlain was in the waning years of his presidency. He had no idea who Chamberlain was, or what A.R. stood for. To improve his education, Paul got a job on the Collegian as a reporter, where the truth speaks in really large font. His first assignment was to report on a local political race, even though he hated politics as much as chemistry.
Communing with words advanced apace with a job writing for the Silver Spruce yearbook. In one story, he wrote something about “obstinate tenacity,” which really made the editor crack up in hilarious mirth. The Silver Spruce disappeared as a publication a few years later, the victim of paperless dreams and no budget, but Paul didn’t have anything to do with that failure, as court documents clearly show.
Then the big time. Paul graduated, spent a few bucolic years as a forklift driver at an industrial plant, then decided to go back to school, where life is as good as having a nanny. He stumbled into a job at the PR office at Aylesworth Hall, a place of ancient orange carpet and sauna-level heat. His cube life began the moment he first compiled and edited event listings on a computer that sounded like his asthmatic aunt. His aunt, though, knew how to spell-check, but the computer didn’t, at least not without a 5-inch floppy.
Meteoric success followed like the entrails of a comet. Paul ascended into newspaper publishing, first as assistant editor then editor of Comment, the black-and-white weekly campus news titan. He learned the names of CSU presidents because he had to attend faculty meetings where presidents spoke every few years. He also wrote press releases, filling them with made-up but genuine quotes from presidents. The quotes were mostly for Albert Yates, because he was president a long time.
From autumn to winter to spring, Paul told the stories of CSU, from amazing research to disasters like the flood of 1997 to features on incomprehensible public art on campus. During the summers, he spent a lot of time playing in the mountains, the slacker.
Years and years of that, and it was good. Then a university magazine fell in his lap, and he edited that for more years. A move from Aylesworth (the orange carpet had been replaced and air conditioning installed, which rattled and groaned like Paul’s Uncle McGillicuddy) to the Big House followed, where the walls speak of hallowed history and administrative derring-do.
Ensconced on the third floor of the Administration Building, Paul finally gave up his No. 2 pencils and yellow tablets and joined the 21st century, writing and editing for both print and online publications on a keyboard that gathered his daily lunch crumbs.
On the eve of his retirement (woops, he may already be gone), Paul says he’ll keep scribbling. He’s not aiming for a Great American Novel, but something as titanic, like a feature in Meeting Magazine.
"I owe all the talented, dedicated, creative, and downright nice people I've worked with over the years for sparking my own success at CSU," Paul says, in an honestly made-up quote.
After six CSU presidents, a few million words, and a boatload of good memories, Paul has decided it’s time to move on to the next chapter, which historians think is number 12.