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Secret Life of Adjuncts

Angela D. Miller, Design, Arts and Technology

Fall 2020

 

 

As a college student, you more than likely learned from adjuncts—the highly specialized faculty who teach one or two classes per semester. The university couldn’t function without them. But did you ever stop to wonder what they were doing when they weren’t at Bellarmine? We decided to find out. The results might surprise you.   

By Harry Rothgerber ‘69 

After taking a meandering route from Ohio to California to Australia, Angela D. Miller arrived in 2009 at Bellarmine, where she has become a well-regarded adjunct, staff member and student. Equally roundabout was her trek through psychology, forensic science, bartending and odd jobs to her passion—the theater. 

Leaving her hometown of Cleveland, she received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Xavier University, then earned a master’s degree in forensic science in California. Interested in investigating criminal behavior, Miller landed an internship in the Forensic Unit at the San Diego Police Department. However, she explained, “this was long before CSI and NCIS shows, and, like most things on TV, the reality isn’t half as exciting.” 

What did excite her was working at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre, where she secured a nighttime job as a dresser in the crew. “At night at The Globe, I would find myself on my knees staring up at a half-naked woman who was cheering me on as I desperately tried to latched up the hundreds of hook-and-eyes on the front of her corset and gown for a 38-second, full-costume change,” she said. In the end, it was Miller herself who got hooked. 

The scales tipped, and her balance became her passion. “I gave up a $60K-a-year career for a $6-an-hour job…and I never looked back,” she said. “I regret nothing, and I’ve loved every minute of it.” After almost a decade of working and learning at The Globe, she received a scholarship to the University of Tasmania, where she earned her second master’s degree, this one in directing. 

“I love the DAT program because it is geared to help students use digital media to accentuate what they have learned in their major field and apply it in practical terms.” 

Since coming to Bellarmine, Miller has taught interdisciplinary classes as well as courses in Theatre, Communications and Design, Arts & Technology (DAT), while also working in the Registrar’s Office since 2013. Recently, she completed still another master’s degree, this one in digital media at BU. “Unlike my previous change in career, this last shift focuses on digital media as a tool for a creative bridge between the arts and communication,” she said. “It’s perfectly suited for DAT, and that led me to where I am today.” 

She also participated in the successful TEDx event at Bellarmine in 2019. “I was brought in because of my experience with technical theater, directing and live events,” Miller said. “What I didn’t realize was that I was also joining a family. It was pretty darn cool.” Dr. Shawn Apostel, director of the DAT program, said “TedxBellarmineU would not be the same without her.” 

Locally, she directed Sylvia at the MeX Theater and The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) at the Little Colonel Playhouse. After working with several community theater groups, including the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Miller joined the Louisville Repertory Company (LRC) in 2013 when they asked her to direct The Glass Mendacity, a comedy-parody. Since 1992 LRC has strived to create accessible, socially relevant theatre and to support local artists. Miller is one of the artistic directors on the LRC team.  

The pandemic has significantly disrupted LRC’s live performances. Miller was directing Jason Odell Williams’ Church and State for a show at The Bard’s Town Restaurant, Pub and Theatre earlier this year. “By mid-March, we were only a couple of days away…when everything closed down,” she said. After considering various options, she consulted with Dr. Carol Stewart, with whom she had worked in the BU Theatre Department. “She said it was perfect for audio,” Miller recalled. “We determined that focusing on a true live audio drama was the best option. We live in a visual culture, but perhaps it is time we listen.” The audio version, performed several times, was an unqualified success. 

In addition to BU student-intern Breia Torrens, a number of alumni are also involved in the LRC creative team: Melanie Metcalf Holbert ’18, Clare Hagan ’18, Alex Bowman ’13, Haley Hunt ’17, V. Reibel ’13, Mallory Kramer ’14 and Ke’Leb Beauchamp ’18. 

Doug Schutte ’97, owner of The Bard’s Town, said, “I am always glad when I hear Angela’s name attached to a project, because it means I don’t have to worry about it in the slightest. If Angela is a part of it, then ‘it’ is going to get done, exceptionally and professionally.” 

Miller brings similar enthusiasm and expertise to the Design, Arts and Technology program. “DAT is a program that integrates applied arts with digital technology,” she explained. “I love the DAT program because it is geared to help students use digital media to accentuate what they have learned in their major field and apply it in practical terms.” DAT, a secondary major, is taken in conjunction with a complementary major, such as Art, Business, English, Psychology or Theatre. 

“In my graduate-level multimedia class, I was amazed by her creativity and determination,” Dr. Apostel said. “She was that student who went well beyond the assignments and inspired others to push themselves. I’m thrilled that Bellarmine students can work for such a talented, passionate and creative person.” 

In spite of the distress of the pandemic, including the death of her father in April, Miller is optimistic about the future. “I have found that it is easy to allow one’s own fears to color our view of future generations with uncertainty and skepticism,” she said. “But by doing so, we forget the blessings of potential, of what can be. Every semester my students—current and former—remind me of hope in this world, and there is nothing I want more than for them to succeed.” 

 

 

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