Amata Miller holds a passionate belief that economics should be used as a tool for social justice, equity and fairness underscores Sister Amata Miller’s teaching and her professional choices over the course of the five decades of her career. To that end, she has worn many hats at Marygrove College, within the IHM order, in the world of economists, academics and in the agencies advocating for social and economic justice.
Sister Amata says that helping the people she has taught in classes and workshops over the years become agents of social justice has been a lifelong quest. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan, Class of 1969, said in her nomination letter, “Sister Amata had the most profound influence on me of any teacher in my life. She opened worlds of knowledge to us and offered a firm commitment to scholarship and rationality in this often chaotic world.” Another former student, Carol Litka, ’72, who is now a financial advisor with a major brokerage firm, recalls, “Sister Amata inspired me and gave me the confidence for the later choices I made.”
In 1976, Sister Amata left the classroom to become the Financial Vice President of the IHM congregation, an elected post she held for 12 years. During this time, she continued her teaching through lectures and workshops on economic justice and financial matters to many religious congregations and national groups. As a Marygrove Trustee, she served on the Finance Committee helping to guide the College through a difficult financial period. Expressing the IHM social justice commitment through socially responsible investing, she was active in filing shareholder resolutions and at shareholder meetings of Detroit Edison out of concern for safety at the Monroe Fermi II nuclear reactor site. Continuing the congregation’s efforts to provide for members’ retirement needs, she fostered fund-raising and congregational saving for the future. She also assisted other religious congregations with these efforts and worked for the upgrading of compensation of women religious in Michigan.
Moving to the national scene, Sister Amata became Education Coordinator and economic analyst for NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby in Washington, D.C., serving from 1988 to 1994. She continues to serve as an adjunct staff member.
Returning to Michigan, this time as Chief Financial Officer of Marygrove College, Sister Amata established, reaffirmed and enforced policies regarding payment of tuition, distribution of student financial aid, allocation of the college budget and investment of the endowment. She collaborated with administrators, staff and faculty from various departments, was fair in the application of policies and never too busy to meet with students or others.
Sister Amata has also served as a Professor of Economics at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. Currently, she is a Professor of Economics and Director of the Myser Initiative in Catholic Identity at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota. She teaches “Economics of Social Issues” and works to infuse among faculty and staff a deepened respect for and appreciation of the Catholic identity of the College.She also teaches the two Economics courses in Marygrove’s Master’s of Social Justice Program.
For the past 25 years, Sister Amata has written and lectured extensively on economic justice issues, Catholic social teaching and socially responsible investing through-out the United States and abroad. In her statements, she has not shied away from topics such as the economics of the war in Iraq.
She has served on the boards of Shorebank Corporation in Chicago, Catholic Health Initiatives in Denver, Catholic Health Audit in St. Louis, and the Minnesota Center for Health Care Ethics in Minneapolis. She is currently Board Chair of Global Health Initiatives in Denver and is a Trustee of St. Edward’s University in Austin and of the SSIHM Charitable Trust in Monroe.
Sister Amata earned a Doctorate in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley where she won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship. She earned a Master’s in Economics at St. Louis University.
A classical music lover, Sister Amata listens to music on the radio and finds “...my spirit calmed by its cadences.” She does crossword puzzles for fun and enjoys visiting with her two sisters and friends.