In 2004, A. Kathrine Miller '34 celebrates 50 years on the Board of Trustees. And 2005 will mark the 75th anniversary of her enrollment as a student at Moravian College for Women.

Golden Steppingstone, Diamond Milestone

by Betty Adams Roach '43

"Have you seen her yet? ... She was my favorite ... I've been looking for her all morning."

"Yes, there she is ... over there."

These are typical snatches of conversation often heard in the HUB foyer and hallways at any Homecoming or Alumni Reunion weekend. The “she” is Kitty. And “over there” usually is a closely bunched group of alumni and perhaps one or two faculty surrounding a petite, smiling white-haired lady. She is doing her best to respond to the “How are you?” and “Do you remember ... when?” greetings and questions from similarly gray-haired friends and admirers.

Kitty, of course, is Dr. A. Kathrine Miller, who recently observed her 50th year as a member of the Moravian College Board of Trustees. But the attention she attracts as an obviously familiar face on campus runs far deeper than her status as a lifetime member of the board. To many alumni, especially those who knew her as an articulate, humorous, and creative biology instructor, and others who have encountered her on campus in recent years, she is an icon of devotion and service to Moravian.

Allentown High School graduate A. Kathrine Miller set foot on the Church Street campus for the first time as a freshman member of the Class of 1934 of Moravian College for Women. Over most of the nearly seven and a half decades since that event, she has been not only an active alumna, but also teacher, trusted friend, and advisor to hundreds of undergraduates, faculty, administrators, and fellow trustees, including six Moravian College presidents. Talk to friends, her former students, workplace associates, and to Kitty herself, however, and you come away with the feeling that, although she won wide recognition as a research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry, she feels most comfortable in what she views as a lifetime role as a “teacher.” (The starched white lab jacket she wore in her MCW classroom lab is still tucked away in a closet.)

One of her former MCW students, Grace Shaner Schuchardt ’43, recalls that as a freshman in 1939, she listened “to the most creative lecture I’d ever heard ...She was not only creative but had a great sense of humor and a relaxed, friendly approach to her students. It didn’t take very long for her to become our favorite teacher.” In fact, Grace adds, “She is still the favorite of the 1939 biology class survivors.”

As an undergraduate, Kitty was an outstanding student in science, and in her senior year MCW President Edwin J. Heath hired her to fill in for an ill biology instructor. She remained on the job while studying for her M.S. at Columbia, was promoted to assistant professor, and taught biology to MCW undergraduates, many of whom were pursing degrees as lab technicians.

Miss Miller (as her students then addressed her) resigned in 1941 to finish work on her doctorate. She took a part-time job at Wells College while pursing her final year of study in bacteriology at Cornell. And in 1943, Ph.D. in hand, she won an unusual (at least for a woman at that time) appointment as a biology research associate at Sharp & Dohme (later Merck Sharp & Dohme).

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Photo: John Kish IV