Tournament of Roses Association President Dr. Robert Miller was honored by the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and scores of local business leaders at the 2021 Tournament of Roses President’s Breakfast Tuesday at the Pasadena Hilton.
This year’s Rose Queen and Royal Court were also in attendance, along with Pasadena Chamber of Commerce leadership and many members, and Councilmember Tyron Hampton.
Following a welcome by Chamber CEO and President Paul Little, an invocation by Ed Morales, and a lighthearted introduction by Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Chair of the Board John Leano, Miller recalled his own background in education and the Tournament of Roses in his presentation, saying, “The theme this year is ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve.’ If you have a dream in the belief of your ability you can achieve just about anything.
“The theme contains two major elements,” he explained. “The first is a celebration of education, and the recognition that education is the single greatest determinant of social and economic mobility to move the bar to social and economic stability.”
Continued Miller, “Accessible, equitable, inclusive, and quality public education is needed for all.”
Miller added that reemerging from the pandemic “is a celebration of science and scientists, healthcare professionals, first responders and essential workers, the science and scientists who have made this day in this year’s parade again possible. Miller also saluted “all the healthcare professionals, first responders and essential workers who sacrificed and cared for us through the worst of the pandemic and continue to do so.”
While this year’s parade will be mounted with a live audience again, it has not been without cost, said Miller, who said that the parade lost all five of its international bands and one of its domestic bands.
“We ended up with 19 bands,” he explained. “Now, each of those 19 bands that have come to us this year have struggled with fundraising, rehearsals, both virtual and in person, emotional health issues, and recruitment, and with all these challenges they have faced as a result of COVID, the road has not been easy.
“There are many great highs and many great lows,” Miller continued. “Students, teachers, staff, parents, family members, and friends have experienced death, debilitating and continuing illness, as well as financial pain, in many cases. So these 4,500, 5,000 kids have seen a great deal in 2020, so the trip to Pasadena has double meaning.”
Miller stressed that being a member of a high school band is much more than learning how to play an instrument.
“It’s about learning discipline, time management, work ethic, teamwork, and learning that life is about helping others,” he said. “And in turn, depending on others, that’s the strength.”
Despite the heavy cost of the pandemic, Miller remained optimistic about the return of the parade and its emotional impact on the community and the nation.
Miller, a volunteer member of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association since 1984, was appointed a Tournament chair in 2002 and a Tournament director in 2007. He has also served on and chaired various committees including Float Construction, Float Entries, Post Parade and University Entertainment.
Professionally, Miller has been a community college educator, administrator and consultant for more than 40 years and recently retired to work fulltime for the Tournament of Roses.
During his work career, he was appointed to the position of Vice Chancellor for Finance and Resource Development for the Los Angeles Community College District in 2016, serving 245,000 students annually through nine colleges. Miller provided oversight for the District’s fiscal services, business services, government relations, institutional advancement, career and technical education, adult education and information technology units.
As Miller reassured the audience, “This year is not only a life-changing highlight of their young lives, as it is for every band participant each year, but this year, this very challenging troublesome year, is an important sign that everything will be okay, and that they will be okay.”