After nearly 20 years of directing the Miami University Dolibois European Center (MUDEC), Ekkehard Stiller has been given one of Miami’s highest honors.
Stiller, who plans to retire in June, received the President’s Medal earlier this month as part of the 40th anniversary celebration at Miami’s Luxembourg campus.
The award is given irregularly and is a replica of the medal Miami President David Hodge wears at ceremonies.
It has only been given to 11 individuals since the award’s inception in 1990. Inscribed on the medal is the Latin phrase, “Prodesse quam conspici”-to accomplish rather than to be conspicuous.
“He has gone above and beyond the expectations for an administrator and executive,” Hodge said. “He has taken care of students (and) he has connected us to all sorts of people throughout Luxembourg. He has done so much to try to make it all worthwhile, so it’s just incredible service. It’s beyond anything anybody could have imagined.”
Senior Matt Weinkam, who studied in Luxembourg, said Stiller’s passion for his job and students stands out the most.
“Dr. Stiller is MUDEC,” Weinkem said. “His enthusiasm is infectious. No one cares more about the program than him.”
Stiller was born in Germany during the Second World War, and lived through the bombing of Dresden in 1945 when he was 4 years old.
His youth was spent in Communist East Germany until he and his family fled when he was 15.
Later, Stiller would receive his bachelor’s in economics, magna cum laude, from McMaster University in Canada and his master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii. He has directed the MUDEC program since 1989.
“It’s been a most rewarding experience,” Stiller said. “There has not been one day that I did not enjoy, despite challenges. I wouldn’t want to exchange with anyone, I have the greatest job-I’m surrounded by young, intelligent, enthusiastic students.”
Stiller said he would like to stay amongst his friends in Luxembourg when he retires in June, but because of the high costs of living in Luxembourg, he plans to move with his wife to the German city of Trier, just 30 minutes from Luxembourg.
MUDEC will miss Stiller’s leadership, especially as the global financial crisis takes effect.
But despite hurdles, Stiller said he remains optimistic and doesn’t see the crisis taking a serious toll on MUDEC.
“The important thing is that we do not cut the quality of the program and that we do not reduce our excitement-our commitment to providing the very best education for students,” Stiller said.
Hodge agreed and added the financial crisis will likely spare MUDEC unless student enrollment drops sharply.