April 1, 2009
09-059

Kate Elliot
Communications Specialist

Former VSU Bookstore Manager Endows Retail Award

VALDOSTA - Certified Collegiate Retailer Tommye Miller spent 30 years creating cozy store environments, employing creative merchandizing and supporting the academic mission at Valdosta State University. Since retiring in 2005 as the director and general manager for VSU Stores, Miller and her husband, Keith, have dedicated themselves to recognizing dynamic and forward-thinking college retailers.

In March, the couple announced their endowment of the National Association of College Stores (NACS) Foundation Collegiate Retailer of the Year Award - a $5,000 award presented every other year beginning in 2011 to a college store that exemplifies retail excellence.

"My dream is that college presidents, deans of students, vice presidents of student affairs, and all of those really important people on campus will think so highly of their college stores that we won't have to rely on self-nomination," Miller told the NACS. "I want to recognize those stores who have gotten it right. This is an award that will recognize excellence regardless of what type of store it is."

The Millers are well-known leaders in the college store industry. Tommye served as NACS president and foundation board member in addition to state and regional positions. She was presented NACS' highest award, the Order of the Eagle, in 2005. Keith Miller was committed to the college market as a sales representative for more than 20 years and served on many state and regional association boards.

Director of Auxiliary Services Rob Kellner said Miller was an invaluable member of the VSU community and remains a tremendous asset to the college retail profession. The Millers’ financial support of the industry will encourage college bookstores to stay relevant in the age of digital books and increasing pressures from competing retailers.

“Tommye has always invested in professional development. She has been a leader in the field and a mentor to many in the profession,” Kellner said. “The recent contribution Tommye and Keith made to NACS will encourage others to grow professionally as they work to attain the recognition associated with this award.”

The award reflects Miller's philosophy about the tools needed for successful college store operation. Award recipients must develop key relationships with faculty, students, and administrators and create an exciting and inviting store environment. They must also employ creative merchandising and emerging technologies while continuously developing staff to help them reach career goals. More specific award criteria will be posted in the future on the NACS Web site, www.nacs.org.