DuPage college names center after Wheaton man who died in combat
Deanne Mazzochi said naming the College of DuPage’s homeland security education center after Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller was an easy decision.
“With all the sacrifices he made for this country and with the way he’s made everyone from DuPage County feel proud in knowing he’s one of us, I couldn’t think of anyone that’s more deserving," Mazzochi, the school's board chairman, told the DuPage Policy Journal. “We’re truly proud to be affiliated with such a distinguished individual.”
School officials formally put the Wheaton native’s name up in lights during a July 6 dedication ceremony on the Glen Ellyn campus taht was attended by his friends and family.
A Wheaton North High School grad, Miller, 25, was killed near the Pakistan border in 2008. He joined the Army five years earlier and in 2007 received two Army Commendation Medals for Valor for courage under fire after an eight-month deployment in Afghanistan.
He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in October 2010.
“As a trustee, the question I asked myself was what does our choice about whose name to put on a building say about us as an institution,” Mazzochi added. “We wanted to make sure we selected someone everyone at the institution can feel proud of and I truly believe we have.”
School officials also honored former students and alumni who have died in the line of duty as firefighters, police officers and military service members by listing their names on a memorial wall in the newly named RJM Building.
In the end, Miller was selected from a small group of candidates that at one point included former university President Robert Breuder, who left the school in spring 2015 after receiving a $763,000 buyout that critics quickly pointed to as yet another example of oversized government and questionable use of taxpayer funding.
“I was always of the opinion if the college was going to name the building after someone it should be someone who was a person of integrity and whose story was one of inspiration,” Mazzochi said. “Sgt. Miller unquestionably embodied all those things"