the agriculturist

51 Years and Countingmaxwell

Story and Photo by Torie Robinson


When thinking about time spent at Texas Tech University, there is one person who comes to mind – Max Miller.  Max has been active as a student and professor on the Texas Tech campus since 1955.

Max Miller, Ph.D., became an instructor at Texas Tech in 1960, five years after marrying his high school sweetheart, Roma.  Together, the couple worked to attend college and obtain jobs in order to be successful and support their family.

While paying college tuition seems tough for many students, Roma said she and Max never experienced difficult times because they always worked to receive what they had.

“I really didn’t think it was difficult for me to work while Max attended college,” Roma said.  “Max threw the newspaper on Sundays, and we sold coat hangers and Coke bottles for extra money on the side, but we had a lot of fun.”

The food science associate professor and his wife of 56 years reside in Brownfield, Texas, where they both graduated from high school.  The couple continues to live on the farm where Max was raised. 

“I have lived on the farm for 61 years,” Max said.  “We farmed cotton, wheat and sorghum while growing up, and for a few years, I farmed up to 900 acres while teaching.”

He explained that his father is responsible for getting him involved in agriculture, which led him to farming and the pursuit of three degrees in the agriculture field. 

After graduating from Texas Tech in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in the dairy industry, Max decided to further his education at another top-ranked dairy program.  He earned a Master of Science degree from Michigan State University in 1960 and returned to Texas Tech to teach in the Department of Dairy Industries.

Max said he discovered a passion for teaching others while in college.  In order to become a professor he needed to attain a master’s degree.

“I love teaching college students,” Max said.  “I am interested in my students’ success, and I am here to help them.”

After spending eight years teaching at Texas Tech, and in order to earn another college degree, Max decided to go to Michigan for a second time.  In 1971, he completed his doctoral degree in food science at Michigan State University.

In 1972, Max and his family relocated back to the farm in Brownfield; this time, the move was for good.  Max immediately joined the faculty in the Department of Animal and Food Science at Texas Tech.  This was his first and only teaching job he has had since he received his doctoral degree.

Max has found a special interest in helping his students obtain internships and jobs throughout the food science industry.  If students will take a moment and talk to him about prospective jobs, Max will work diligently to find each person a spot in the industry.

“Frito Lay, Kraft, Coca Cola, breweries, wineries and ice cream plants are just a few companies I help students land internships with,” Max said.  “Each student receives three credit hours for completing  their internship.”

Over the 51 years Max has been a professor at Texas Tech, he has witnessed many changes implemented throughout the Department of Animal and Food Science.  During this time, the department has been titled dairy industries, dairy and food industries, food industries. He has experienced changes in faculty, technology and student numbers,  as well.
Max believes he is probably the only professor at Texas Tech who does not have a computer in his office.  He does not believe that he needs to integrate technology into his classroom to be an affective professor.

“Students call me an old-time professor,” Max said.  “I do not use modern technology in my classroom. I lecture and the students take notes.”  

During Max’s time at Texas Tech and in the food science industry, he has received numerous awards, and is an original member of the Texas Tech Teaching Academy.

Max said he has been named “outstanding CASNR faculty” at Texas Tech.  He was also inducted into the Hall of Fame for both the Texas Food Processors Association and Dairy Products Institute  of Texas.

Graysen Ortega, junior in food science, stresses the impact Max has in the department and how supportive he is to each student.

Ortega said Max is extremely knowledgeable about food science and teaches material to help prepare students for a career.

“Max knows everything there is to know about food science, and he has devoted his life to teaching so he can share his knowledge with his students and prepare them for successful careers in the industry,” Ortega said. “He plays a huge role in both internship an job placement.”

“Max is irreplaceable, and I can’t imagine the department without him,” Ortega said.  “He is very intelligent.”

Max said he does his job to the best of his ability and has been privileged to be recognized for it.

“I am humble but pleased that so many students respect me and what I do for them,” Max said.  “I just want to be supportive and make sure every student succeeds when they walk into my classroom.”