Alumnus Jerry Miller endows new innovation award

Jerry Miller

A new U-M School of Information award will recognize students for innovative, “outside the box” thinking and problem solving, thanks to a generous gift from UMSI alumnus Jerry Miller (AMLS ’86, PhD ’95). The UMSI Innovator Award is an endowed award created with an initial gift of $62,000 and a bequest of $1 million.

The award will be given annually to recognize outstanding achievements by students who participate in the University of Michigan School of Information’s Design Clinic and other design-oriented courses.

At the Design Clinic, interdisciplinary teams of students from the School of Information and other divisions work directly with clients to find design solutions for startups, non-profits and cultural institutions. They conduct user research and testing, create wireframes for websites and mobile apps and provide recommendations for processes and workflow design.

“As a graduate student here at Michigan, I was encouraged to imagine, to reach out and innovate,” said Miller. “I wanted to know how to organize information outside of libraries, so as a doctoral student, I took classes in business administration, organizational psychology, engineering and other fields. I envision this award as encouraging students to create and explore beyond a single discipline.”

To be considered for the award, student teams will submit an abstract that describes their design problem and how they approached it. A panel of judges, to include clients of the Design Clinic, will select the finalists for a live, in-person presentation to determine the winner.

“This bequest is my opportunity to give back to Michigan, which gave me a wonderful start to a fulfilling career,” said Miller. Before his retirement he was an associate professor in the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College in Boston and an information management consultant. “Michigan said to me ‘go for it,’ and I just kept on going. I hope that this award will give others the confidence to create and innovate throughout their careers.” 

The first award will be presented in spring 2016. The amount of the award is still to be determined and is expected to increase annually.

Posted January 11, 2016