Q&A: Philanthropists Alan and Jill Miller

The Gladwyne residents, who recently donated $8 million to the Museum of the American Revolution, share their love of U.S. history.

The founder, chairman and CEO of Universal Health Services, Alan Miller has been a director of the Philadelphia Regional Performing Arts Center and chairman emeritus of the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Jill Miller has been a board member for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Rena Rowan Breast Cancer Center at Penn Medicine. She currently serves on the board of the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, to which the Millers recently donated $4 million. The Gladwyne residents also donated $8 million to the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. The gift was used for a state-of-the-art theater that houses George Washington’s Revolutionary War tent.

MLT: Why the Museum of the American Revolution?

AM: I’ve always been interested in history. I went to the College of William and Mary, and so did George Washington. Thomas Jefferson went there, too. What people don’t realize fully is that they took on the most formidable army in the world at the time. Had they lost, they would’ve been humiliated, likely tortured and made examples of.

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MLT: What are some of your favorite things about the museum?

JM: The part that got to me the most was the video about George Washington living in a tent in Valley Forge in a horrible winter, and realizing what he accomplished, what he went through just being there, and the example he set for his men.

AM: He just never gave up. He’d been there for seven or eight years, away from his family, in the cold, losing battle after battle, fighting the greatest army in the world with very little equipment, food or support. His determination and perseverance were just incredible.

MLT: Do either of your families have ties to American history?

JM: Alan has an Ellis Island Medal of Honor, given annually to people whose families came through Ellis Island and who’ve achieved success in the United States.

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MLT: What lessons have you taken from the founding fathers?

AM: The one characteristic is persistence. It’s well known that Washington was not much of a tactician at the outset—in fact, we lost most battles. But he was very persistent, and he managed to keep the army together. He was only human, but he didn’t give in.

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