Fullerton College Centennial


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For Robert Miller, a career and an entire lifetime in art began as a high school freshman trying to get out of study hall. His first art teacher had known Picasso and taught her young students Cubism while his second had gotten an MA in Fine Arts from Claremont Graduate School. He wound up at Cal State University Long Beach in one of the area’s best art programs. A teaching credential soon followed, then an MFA before he arrived at Fullerton College at a time when its art department was considered above average. Miller, who had just turned 25, and department chair Bob Egan petitioned the college to let the department become somewhat of an independent art community within the structure of the college. This led to the idea of FC having a permanent art collection of its own. Miller agreed to take on the project as a pilot in 1971, calling it “Painting ’71” and landing renowned artist John Paul Jones as one of two jurors.

From there, the program blossomed when Egan contacted prestigious American painter Wayne Thiebaud, who was connected with Andy Warhol and other Pop Artists. Thiebaud and Egan devised the idea of an Artist in Residence program, the first of which allowed students to watch while Thiebaud painted new works before their eyes. By the end of his stint, Thiebaud had donated a major painting to the new collection and lined up Nathan Oliveira, leader of the Bay Area’s figurative school, as the second year’s Artist in Residence. Subsequent artists in residence included José Luis Cuevas. The art collection has evolved into something any institution of higher learning, including most major universities, would prize, its value at anywhere from $2 million to $3 million.

For Miller, teaching at Fullerton College during the 1970s was a special moment of an era he still cherishes. He was a young teacher bursting with creativity at a time and in a place that helped inspire students who pursued careers in the arts.

In all his years at Fullerton College, Robert Miller says he “was always as much a student as I was a teacher” — and what “fascinated” him the most was “the whole mystery of the creative process.”
Robert Miller, January 4, 2011

“After 40 years” of teaching “thousands” of students, Robert Miller says he “came to the conclusion that there are little sleeping geniuses in everybody — and teachers can help those seeds to explode and erupt. I have seen this happen with so many people on such a profound level.” The “guidance” of teachers, he says, unleashes students’ “powers” in a way he says is “humbling.”
Robert Miller, January 4, 2011

“I have always loved it when my students outshine me.”
Robert Miller, January 4, 2011

Date of Birth:

May 26, 1943

Dates at Fullerton College:


Department of Specialty:

Art Department


  • Staff of Distinction Award (1990-’91) for teaching excellence
  • Wrote book “The Art of the Photocopy Machine” (Brown & Benchmark, 1994)
  1. Miller, Robert. Videotaped Centennial Project interview, conducted and recorded by Jay Goldstein, January 4, 2011.
  2. Various email correspondences from Robert Miller to Eric Marchese, fall, 2012.