Leading With Kindness – EC Spotlight on VP for Student Development Mandrake Miller

When Mandrake Miller arrived in Franklin Springs to visit Emmanuel College, the rural close knit community he found reminded him of home.

This was a deciding factor for the Manning, SC. native who was named Vice President of Student Development earlier this summer. 

After obtaining his bachelor’s degree from Morris College, Miller continued to complete his M.S. in Organizational Leadership from Grand Canyon University, where he is now finishing his Ed.D.

Miller has worked in higher education for over 15 years with stops at Bethune-Cookman University, Chowan University, Virginia Union University and Tuskegee University.  His most recent role was at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, FL where he served as the Vice President for Student Success. 

For him, higher education isn’t a career path, it’s a ministry.

“I believe you have to have a heart for people, it’s hard to do this work without it,” he said. “That’s where it starts for me. If I wasn’t working with students directly, I probably wouldn’t be in the field.” 

What’s something he’d like the campus community to know about him?

Mandrake and wife, Shaquana

“I’d want them to know my heart,” he said. “I’m always going to put my best food forward and produce great work. I want the community to understand that when there’s an event or a program happening on campus under our department it’s going to be done with excellence. I believe in the motto ‘Leading with Kindness,’ which is something I want everyone to know and feel when they’re in my presence. ”

Miller’s heart for people stems from his heart for God.

“Everything for me derives from my faith,” he said. “I have a passion for the things of God. I’m not perfect, I have issues and challenges like anyone, but my heart for God pushes me to do good work and treat people right.”

How will his experience help him in this role?

“I’ve worked my way up,” he said. “I think having experience and a wealth of knowledge across many different colleges and universities has prepared me for this role. It has allowed me to see things in different ways, and how colleges do things differently. Ultimately it’s a conglomeration of everywhere I’ve been, bringing those ideas together and creating our own programs and best practices that move Emmanuel College forward.”

When he arrived on campus for the first time, Mandrake felt at home. 

 “The location reminded me of home,” he said. “I didn’t get to meet many students but the faculty and staff were amazing. I’m looking forward to working under Dr. White’s leadership, he has so much experience and knowledge gained from his years in higher ed and I’m excited to be a part of the family.”

Outside of work, Miller’s hobbies include working out and spending time with his wife, Shaquana and daughter, Madison (6) who have been a great support system.