Active Voice: Wake Forest University Honors an ACSM Past President

By Peter H. Brubaker, Ph.D., FACSM

Viewpoints presented in SMB commentaries reflect opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of ACSM.

Peter H. Brubaker, Ph.D., FACSM, is a professor and graduate program director in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Pete had the good fortune of working closely with Dr. Henry Miller, M.D., FACSM, who is the subject of this Active Voice, (and Paul M. Ribisl, Ph.D.) while obtaining his Master's degree at Wake Forest between 1984-1986. Pete returned to Wake Forest in 1991 as director of cardiac rehabilitation and worked with very closely with Dr. Miller for more than 10 years. Pete credits Dr. Miller (and Dr. Ribisl) with his interest in cardiovascular physiology.


Last week the Health and Exercise Science Department of Wake Forest University had the pleasure of dedicating the Henry S. Miller Cardiovascular Function Laboratory in their new academic building. More than 60 former students, faculty/staff and close colleagues from around the country joined in the joyful celebration of their mentor, colleague and friend, Henry S. Miller, M.D., FACSM. Dr. Miller, a distinguished cardiologist and past president of the ACSM, provided the medical leadership vital to development of the first cardiac rehabilitation program in North Carolina and one of the first in the nation. This Wake Forest program served as the model, from the mid-70s till the mid-90s, for nearly 100 new cardiac rehabilitation programs in North Carolina and many other locations around the country. Paul M. Ribisl, Ph.D., a close colleague of Dr. Millerís and co-founder of the cardiac rehabilitation program at Wake Forest, provided formal remarks at the event. Paul highlighted some of the important professional and personal contributions that Dr. Miller made at Wake Forest and across the nation during his career. A plaque in this recently dedicated lab reads ďTo Dr. Henry S. Milleró A true pioneer in cardiology/cardiac rehabilitation who provided unwavering guidance and great friendship to countless students, staff, and faculty of this department. Through your example we learned the virtues of humor, humility, and altruism. We are deeply appreciative of your many contributions.Ē

Dr. Miller served as president of the American College of Sports Medicine in 1981-82. Amongst his many ACSM leadership contributions, Dr. Miller orchestrated the search and decision, in conjunction with the ACSM Board of Trustees, to transition the National Office from Madison, Wisconsin, to its current home in Indianapolis, Indiana. These were challenging times for the organization, but Dr. Millerís steady leadership and sense of humor were crucial for building a solid foundation during that time for the growth and success of the ACSM.

Wake Forest University has the unique history of providing a cradle for two past presidents and a future president of the ACSM. Wake Forest was the early academic home to Michael L. Pollock, Ph.D., FACSM. Mike immediately followed Dr. Miller as ACSM president from 1982-83. Dr. Pollock developed the first exercise physiology laboratory at Wake Forest and was an important leader in clinical exercise physiology by advancing the research on the adaptations to aerobic, strength and circuit training programs. He worked with Dr. Miller at Wake Forest in the mid-1960ís to develop an adult and corporate fitness program for members of the Wake Forest campus and surrounding community. Dr. Pollock left Wake in 1973 for the Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Ribisl, a classmate of Dr. Pollockís in Thomas K. Cureton Jr.ís laboratory at the University of Illinois, was offered the position at WFU, replacing Dr. Pollock. Paul and Dr. Miller quickly joined forces to develop the cardiac rehabilitation program. The two obtained a large grant from the American Heart Association to evaluate the safety and efficacy of cardiac rehabilitation and to disseminate this model to other programs in the state. One of their early students at Wake Forest was Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM (BS, 1978; MA, 1979), who was recently elected ACSM's president-elect for 2016. Dr. Thompson is the Regents' Professor and associate dean for graduate studies and research at Georgia State University. He attended the Wake Forest lab dedication and credits Dr. Miller and Dr. Ribisl with his success and passion for the ACSM. Wake Forest University is very proud of its contributions to the prestigious ACSM and is pleased to know that Dr. Thompson will build on the legacy of his Wake Forest predecessors.