Robert’s Retirement

May 23rd, 2008

Inside Thirteen blogger: David Reisman, Educational Publishing

Robert Miller, who is my boss, co-worker and friend here at Thirteen/WNET, is retiring in June. Robert has been the Director of the Educational Publishing Department since 1983, and I’ve worked with him since 1986. When I first met Robert, I was 28 years old and in my first semester in a graduate program in education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He had been working at Thirteen/WNET for three years. His first project was a set of ambitious print materials for HERITAGE: CIVILIZATION AND THE JEWS.

I became a full-fledged staff member in the early 1990s. Over the years our department has developed publications for public TV programs of all types, in all subject areas — long-running series like NATURE (we’ve produced its teachers guides for 20 years); Bill Moyers’ programs on poetry, addiction, alternative medicine, and dying; the international documentary series WIDE ANGLE; and even local programs like A WALK AROUND BROOKLYN.

One of the great things about working with Robert is that he brings a truly collaborative spirit to his projects, and he’s very generous with offering opportunities for creative input. Before working at Thirteen/WNET, I’d had some pretty negative experiences in the workplace, and Robert’s encouragement was tremendously important for me. From my first experience with educational publishing (research for the Faces of Japan viewer’s guide) to the recent comic books I’ve developed for NATURE, I’ve always been impressed by how much Robert enjoys the brainstorming process at the beginning of a big project, how seriously he takes the messages of each program we’re working on, and how dedicated he is to making sure that our materials have the greatest possible educational impact.

Robert Miller, Thirteen Education

In addition to his work in educational publishing, Robert is also a very creative person: He is a talented writer of strange, funny pieces of surreal fiction and has a surprisingly excellent singing voice (as my coworkers and I learned when he nervously called us into a conference room to rehearse for a recent guitar recital). He’s also been genuinely supportive of my work as an artist, and one of the nice things about working on 33rd St. and 10th Ave. is that we occasionally go see art exhibits in Chelsea during lunch.

Colleagues come and go, new technologies cause seismic shifts in the workplace – and through all the uncertainty, Robert’s been stalwart and reliable. He’s managed to find a way of being a constant, like the “c” in E=mc2 (the speed of light). He’s been both a mentor and a good friend, and I feel truly lucky to have worked with him over the years.