Dr. Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College (GTC), was presented with the Order of the Palmetto on May 17. Established by Governor John C. West in 1971, the Order of the Palmetto is South Carolina’s highest civilian honor. It is presented in recognition of a lifetime of extraordinary achievement, service, and contributions on a national or statewide scale.
“Keith Miller stands out for the innovative approaches he takes to clearing the path for business and industry, creating solutions that keep doors open, allow for expansion, and encourage employers to locate to our area,” said Rep. Bruce Bannister, who nominated Miller for the honor. “He has taken the college he leads to a level of excellence that has an enormous impact on the Upstate and South Carolina.”
When advanced manufacturing employers were hampered by a gap between the skills needed and existing capabilities within the workforce, the idea for reimagined education for the manufacturing sector was born. Greenville Technical College’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI), which opened in 2016, has changed the way students prepare to enter the workforce in mechatronics, CNC machining, and CAD design, with classes featuring project-based learning that has a real-world focus, and teams solving manufacturing problems in conjunction with Clemson University engineering students.
A few years after CMI opened, manufacturers expressed a need for candidates to fill technical and managerial leadership positions who could build upon a two-year degree, adding knowledge that would prepare them to improve plant performance and efficiency, lead interdisciplinary teams, and manage complex design and process improvement projects. Miller and his team worked with political leaders to gain approval for legislation that Governor Henry McMaster signed into law in 2018, allowing South Carolina’s technical colleges to offer an applied bachelor’s degree in advanced manufacturing technology. GTC pioneered the program, launching the degree four years ago, and growing it each year since into a strong solution for the needs of manufacturing employers.
Partnerships improve the pipeline of healthcare graduates as well. GTC has partnered with Prisma Health for many years, creating well-qualified professionals to enter the healthcare field and provide the highest quality patient care. In 2022, the relationship expanded thanks to a $1.5 million gift from the state’s largest healthcare organization and the number one employer of GTC graduates. The Prisma Health Center for Health & Life Sciences, now under construction, will serve as a hub at the heart of campus, welcoming 150,000 visitors annually and serving all of the 500+ health science graduates the college contributes to the local workforce each year.
When Greenville’s restaurants and hotels sought entry-level employees in order to serve the area’s many visitors, Miller matched that challenge with those of an underserved area in west Greenville, where residents needed the skills to be part of the Upstate’s employment opportunities. The solution is the Truist Culinary and Hospitality Innovation Center, a change agent that provides a clear path to upward mobility for many people while building a pipeline of qualified employees for the hospitality industry.
“Keith has changed the educational landscape in South Carolina since he moved to the state to lead Greenville Technical College in 2008,” said nominator Craig Brown, owner and president of Greenville Drive Baseball. “I have observed his passion for serving the needs of our community, including the needs of our employers. He has a relentless desire to provide students with relevant job skills that translate into meaningful careers.”
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