‘A Conversation with Kenneth Miles’


For this weeks installment of my #LiveMaas blog, I am excited to have Kenneth Miles, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Executive Director for the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes at LSU, with us.

·         📱 225-578-6518

·         🐤 @LSUAcademicCenter

·          💻 Komiles@lsu.edu

Kens’ commitment to the “well rounded” student-athlete comes from his time as a four-year letterman at the University of Virginia. He used his stature in that role to be a positive influence to his teammates and the Charlottesville community by mentoring youth through the Big Brother program.

Miles earned both a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art and a Master of Education in Social Foundations of Education from the University of Virginia. In addition, Miles earned a Master of Science degree in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University.

Ken arrived at Syracuse University in 1997 as the Director for Academic Support. Under his academic direction, the Syracuse football program notched a perfect 100 percent graduation rate in 2000 which lead the nation and earned the American Football Coaches Association Achievement Award.  In 2002 Miles became the Assistant Dean for Student Services and in 2006 became the Executive Director for Diversity Enrollment Management and Graduate Admissions.  Miles then returned to the Syracuse Athletics Department as the Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Support Service. 

In 2008, Ken joined the LSU family as the Executive Director of the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes. 

During his time at LSU, he has created a formal media training program, designed a media studio and implemented a digital signage plan. He also created the Student Learning Center, advisory boards for Professional/Career Development, Student Learning, Health / Wellness and Diversity, Inclusion and Civic Engagement, And developed a 5-year strategic plan.

In May 2012, Miles was named the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Executive Director the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes.

WM:  The idea of actually having this potential interview was the spark that started most of this blog.  I’ve admired Ken and his work in Higher Education and I am thrilled to have him with us today.  Ken, Welcome!  Lets jump right in.  Due to time, we will condense the text portion of the interview while providing the entire audio link below.

1.  WM  First question that I’m sure people in our profession would like to know; Please define your leadership style and how it has evolved?

KM:  The first thing about Leadership Style is to be reflective about who I am.  That is who I am as a person as well as who I am as a person who is expected to go and lead a team.  The notion of Teamwork is very critical in our operation.  In fact, I refer to our staff (at LSU) as a team.  Recognizing when someone is going through struggle or downfall, they know they can reach out to a team member to be able to assist so that we can reach a common goal.

In terms of guiding principles, I do cross theory and practicality.  There are four guiding principles I utilize in terms of my leadership.  Visionary. Servant. Authentic. Adaptive.

Adaptive leadership requires a little more explaining than the other three.  Essentially, within an adaptive leadership the body is broken down into two halves.  Not equal halves, but two parts.  The Neck down and the neck up.   The Neck up is referred to as the technical challenge and the neck down is referred to the adaptive.  Neck down is where your heart is located.  Neck up, your brain.  Neck down is essentially who you are as a person.  It is  your DNA composition.  I like to look for people who are of like heart.  Recognizing that if you are of like mind is secondary.

2.  WM  One thing I noticed in review of your background, you started your career as an art teacher.  What lead you to transitioning to Academic Support?

KM:  Interesting story. I was teaching at my high school in Washington, DC.  Craig Littlepage (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Littlepage) was the Athletic Director at (UVA) the time.  We ended up having a 30-45 minute conversation.  Next thing you know, he had an opportunity he wanted me to look at.  A position in Life Skills.  The rest, is history.

The one thing I will say about my art degree is that it prepared me for life outside of the University of Virginia.  As an artist, you have to put your piece of art before folks.  You have to be willing to field the criticism, whether positive or negative, about your art.  What that does is opens the doors to constructive criticism.  If we want to be the best at what we do, we have to be able to ask the questions that outsiders may have.

3  WM  Can you tell us a little about the Kenneth Miles scholarship and the ‘Our Time Has Come’ initiatives you spearheaded at Syracuse?

KM:  Our Time Has Come was a campaign that was run through the development office through the University.  Primarily its focus was to be a support program as an extension for our students of color.  I did not want money to be the reason why students could not attend Syracuse University.  I started to think about what ways I could contribute to that.  I ended up meeting with the development office.  I wanted to create a scholarship for students of color that would not count against state or institutional aid.  I wanted my scholarship to be able to cover the difference.  I made a commitment to the Our Time Has Come campaign which was my way of paying it forward as well as giving it back.


4.  WM  You are a member of the Commission on Access, Diversity, & Excellence – the Baton Rouge Rotary and the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce. You serve on the Board of Directors for 100 Black Men Metro of Baton Rouge, and the Board of Directors for Volunteer of America. In addition, you are also currently serving as President for the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics.  How do you create work / life balance?

KD: The first thing I would say is that work life balance is not 50/50.  I recognize that certain things will require more time than others.  As long as I am able to dedicate the appropriate time and not neglect the important things, than I am able to find balance.  I am the first to admit that it is hard to find balance.  It is something that is still a struggle for me, but I do have to remind myself of the long term goals.  There are certain things that I am in control of, and that is what I need to focus on.

5.  WM  As our current N4A President, What excites you about the future of Athletic Academic Support?  Adversely, what do you see as our primary challenges?

KM:  The ability to have a direct impact on someones life.  That excites me.  Recognizing that across our country, education is not necessarily equitable.  We are trying to close the gaps, educate our future and leverage the inequalities.  If you can do all of those things, then you are changing the world.  We are in a position where we can do all of those things.

What I see as a primary challenge?  I think there are many challenges that exist.  Some are due to the result of the educational gap.  There is also the wealth gap, or the socioeconomic gap.  Due to the amount of money generated, the wealth gap might close.  But it does not address the heart of the problem, or I should say symptoms.  What we do know, for example, those who ultimately get their degrees earn more in their lifetime and are able to build wealth consistently over their lifetime.  I think when we start to be able to address some of those areas and start closing the gaps, then perhaps we will have a better shot on growing and developing the minds of our student-athletes.

6.  WM  For those in our field that aspire to be Directors, what is one specific piece of advice you would give them?

KM:  Control the Things that You Can Control.  It is not for us to leave it in the hands of someone else to dictate and define.  I would ask what is your investment in the process?  We encourage the same in our student-athletes, so we need to look at ourselves in the same light.

We are extremely fortunate to have had an opportunity to visit with Kenneth Miles.  If you enjoyed this interview, please do not forget to Leave a comment.  Also, you can follow me on social media or reach me here:

  • 📱307-223-6429
  • 🐤@Wesdmaas
  • 💻Wmaas@fiu.edu


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