Alton Miller served as Associate Dean of the School of Media Arts at Columbia College Chicago (2005-2012), where he is also an associate professor, teaching writing and political communications. His professional career has included public relations in arts, politics and the media.
Arts: Mr. Miller came to Chicago as a ballet manager. Formerly PR director of the Washington Theater Club (1965-68) and associate producing director of Arena Stage (1968-76) in his native Washington, D.C., and managing director of the Washington Ballet (1978-83), he was named general director of Maria Tallchief's Chicago City Ballet in 1983. A decade later he created brochures and CDs, and embarked on a statewide speaking tour to articulate the economic impact of the arts, as a consultant for the Illinois Arts Alliance.
Politics: In 1984 he changed careers when he was appointed press secretary to Mayor Harold Washington, a position he held until the mayor's death in 1987. As a communications consultant he worked with then Senate candidate Carol Moseley-Braun, Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode, Chicago City Treasurer Miriam Santos, the Illinois Arts Alliance, the Chicago Board of Education, and for United Auto Workers in its contract dispute with Caterpillar, Inc., in Decatur and Peoria, Illinois.
Media: A freelance writer, and the author of three nonfiction works, including the Chicago best-seller Harold Washington: The Mayor, The Man (1989), Mr. Miller served as theater writer and drama critic for Washington Calendar Magazine (1976-1980), and as the replacement first-nighter for the Washington Star, during David Richards' sabbatical. (1978). He covered arts, politics and the media for Chicago Times Magazine (1989-1990). His other two books are Climbing a Great Mountain and a biography of William Warfield. His articles have appeared in numerous publications and online, including his own website at www.altonmiller.com.
Academics: Mr. Miller served as Associate Dean of the School of Media Arts at Columbia College Chicago (2005-2012), where he began teaching as an adjunct professor in 1990. Following his appointment as Director of the Public Relations Studies program, he was granted tenure in 2005. He is currently the principal investigator for a $1.5 million "Crisis Communications Research Project," studying the potential for social media in crisis prevention and response. Also in 2005 he was awarded his M.F.A. in Writing by Goddard College in Vermont. His thesis was a political novel, Chicago Power & Light.
Family: He has one daughter, Julie, from his first marriage, and a granddaughter, Margaret. A widower in 2005, he remarried (Dominika) and is the father of Victoria (born 2007) and Nina (2011).