William Lee Miller

Former Director

William Lee Miller, a writer and teacher about ethics and American politics, served as Director of the Program in Political and Social Thought from 1996 to 1999. Professor Miller exemplified in his life the combination of scholarship with engagement in public affairs that the program hopes to encourage in its students. His many books, written for a well-informed general audience, include historical studies that focus on James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, always with an eye to their moral significance. He wrote articles for a number of national publications, including The New York Times Magazine and The New Republic, and was a staff writer for The Reporter magazine. His involvement in politics included service as a speechwriter for Adlai Stevenson during Stevenson’s second presidential campaign, and three terms as an alderman in New Haven, Connecticut. He recounted his many experiences in New Haven politics in The Fifteenth Ward and the Great Society. After teaching at Smith College, Yale, and Indiana University, he came to the University of Virginia in 1982, retiring in 1999 as Commonwealth Professor and Thomas C. Sorensen Professor of Political and Social Thought. He subsequently was Scholar in Ethics and Institutions at the White Burkett Miller Center of Public Affairs. In 2012, his widow created the William Lee Miller Prize in his honor.