MURRAY, Ky. — The Murray State University Office of Multicultural Initiatives, Student Leadership and Inclusive Excellence hosted a rededication of the new Dr. Marvin D. Mills, Sr. Multicultural Center on April 12 at the Center’s location on the first floor of the Curris Center.
Murray State administrators, students and the greater campus community came together with the Mills family to celebrate the life of the man that became a pillar of the University.
The objective of the original center — first dedicated in 2005 — and the office at large is to support multicultural students by providing opportunities for leadership development, cultural competency and academic success. It is a mission Mills supported throughout his life.
“Don’t be average or ordinary; be extraordinary,” said Dr. S.G. Carthell, executive director of the Office of Multicultural Initiatives, Student Leadership & Inclusive Excellence. “When you think about the people that helped make this come together, when you think about Dr. Mills and all that he did for this University and this community, there’s nothing average about it. There should be nothing average about being a Murray State graduate.”
Mills served as one of Murray State’s first African-American professors from 1977-88, where he was instrumental in establishing and cultivating the University’s nationally-recognized Department of Occupational Safety and Health.
Mills continued to stay involved with the University following his retirement through his service as a board member for the Murray State University Foundation, which helped secure private funding to move the Center to its new home. He returned to campus frequently, visiting at least once per year to meet with students and share stories, while continuing to recruit prospective students to the University in his day-to-day life.
He passed away Sept. 3, 2018, though his legacy will always live on at Murray State through the numerous scholarships, organizations and departments he worked to develop, as well as the lives of countless students impacted by his generosity and spirit.
“I’m very appreciative of the work that was put into this,” said Eunice Mills, Marvin’s wife, to a crowd of some 80-plus students that had gathered in the center along with University administrators. “I know he would be proud.”
“It’s an honor to our family and we appreciate everything the Board of Regents, University administration, S.G. and everyone else has done,” said Glen Mills, Marvin’s son. “Dad and mom instilled in us a sense of bridging divides, of learning from people of different faiths, walks of life and socioeconomic standing that I feel is well-represented at this Center.”
“Dr. Mills was a friend to many,” said Murray State University President Dr. Bob Jackson. “In his roles as a faculty member, a mentor and most importantly, a teacher, he was a special person. We are so grateful to be able to recognize him.”
“This new facility represents the excellent work of Dr. Mills, Dr. Carthell and our students,” said Kendra Dillard, a Mills Scholar and president of Black Student Council. “It means so much to me to have this Center and celebrate the rich, diverse campus that Dr. Mills helped to cultivate.”
“I get emotional when I talk about Dr. Mills,” said Murray State graduate and former Mills Scholar of the Year Geco Ross, ’08, ’15. “Dr. Mills met hundreds of thousands of people in his life, but he always made me feel like No. 1. He never forgot who I was and what I could be.”
Photo: Eunice Mills, spouse of the late Dr. Marvin Mills, cuts a ceremonial ribbon to open the Dr. Marvin D. Mills, Sr. Multicultural Center on April 12 in the Curris Center. Mills was assisted by her son, Glen, as Murray State University Dr. Bob Jackson, left, looks on.