University Affairs

Renowned Philanthropist and Businesswoman Gail Miller to Speak at USU for 2024 Commencement Ceremony

Darren B. Parry and Bruce Carlson Will Also Receive Honorary Degrees

By Tim Olsen |

LOGAN, Utah — Gail Miller, owner of the Larry H. Miller Company and renowned philanthropist, will receive an honorary doctorate degree and serve as USU’s commencement speaker for its 137th ceremony this spring.

Two others will also receive honorary doctorate degrees during the ceremony on Thursday, May 2, 2024: Darren B. Parry, author and former chairman of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, and Bruce Carlson, retired general in the U.S. Air Force and chair of the Space Dynamics Lab Board of Directors.

Gail is the co-founder and owner of the Larry H. Miller Company, established by Larry and Gail in May of 1979 with the purchase of their first automobile dealership in Murray, Utah. Today, the company has a diversified portfolio of businesses and investments across the United States. Their headquarters are in Sandy, Utah. Upon Larry’s death in 2009, Gail took an active role in the business and continued to grow its legacy.

“We are so honored that Gail has accepted our invitation to address USU’s graduating class of 2024,” USU President Elizabeth Cantwell said. “She is an inspiring leader, both in business and through her service to others and the community. She exemplifies what it means to be an Aggie.”

“Graduation signifies the end of an educational journey, but it is also the start of a new chapter of lifelong learning,” Miller said. “It’s an honor to celebrate this momentous occasion with Utah State University’s 2024 graduating class and reflect on their remarkable achievement.”

Conferring honorary degrees enables universities to honor individuals for their commitment to making positive changes in the world.

The 137th USU main campus commencement ceremony will begin at 9 a.m., May 2, in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum after a processional on the Logan campus starting from the Quad at 8:15 a.m. The commencement ceremony will include the awarding of honorary degrees, the announcement of university-wide faculty awards, and commencement speeches by students and dignitaries.

Colleges and campuses are planning individual convocation and graduation ceremonies, as well. Information about college convocation and hooding ceremonies is available on the Logan campus webpage. The Statewide Campuses schedule webpage lists details about ceremonies in Blanding, Brigham City, Eastern, Kaysville, Moab, Southwest, Tooele and Uintah Basin.


A Utah native born in Sandy, Utah, Karen Gail Miller is known throughout the state for her philanthropy, compassion and desire to promote positive change. Gail is the co-founder, owner and immediate past chair of the Larry H. Miller Company. Originally established with Larry in 1979, the Larry H. Miller Company grew into a diverse and successful enterprise, spanning industries such as automotive, entertainment, sports and real estate.

Gail has long been recognized for her philanthropic work, as she’s donated millions of dollars and countless hours of service both personally and through the LHM Group, with the support of education and entrepreneurship being a recurring theme. She has donated to colleges and universities throughout the state, including USU’s Jon M. Huntsman School of Business and USU Athletics.

As a female pioneer in the business world, Gail has received numerous awards and recognitions. In 2019 she was named the “Utahn of the Year” by The Salt Lake Tribune and was also recognized by the Joint Leadership Commission of the Congressional Award Foundation with the Horizon Award for her work in the community and with young people.

Gail served as chair of the LHM Board of Directors for five years before turning over that position to her son, Steve. During that time, she focused on and directed the company’s culture and the growth and diversity of its operations. She remains an active member of the board.

Gail is also chair of the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation and presides over the Larry H. Miller Education Foundation.

In 2010 she married Kim Wilson and between the two they have nine children. They reside in Salt Lake City and enjoy traveling.


Darren B. Parry is a storyteller, teacher and the former Chairman of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation. He is the author of The Bear River Massacre: A Shoshone History and previously taught Native American history at Utah State University. Parry currently serves and has served on numerous boards, including PBS Utah, Utah Humanities, the Allen and Alice Stokes Nature Center, and the American West Heritage Center.

In 2018, Parry began fundraising efforts for the Northwestern Band to purchase and restore land at the site of the Bear River Massacre, one of the deadliest massacres of Native people in U.S. history. Parry is also the driving force behind fundraising for the Boa Ogoi Cultural Interpretive Center to be built adjacent to the site of the massacre. His great-great-great-grandfather, Sagwitch Timbimboo, was the chief of the band at the time and escaped as the horrific events unfolded.

Parry frequently lectures on Native American issues surrounding history and Indigenous views related to sustainability. He currently teaches full-time in the environmental humanities program at the University of Utah. In 2017 he was a recipient of the Esto Pepetua Award from the Idaho State Historical Society, honoring his efforts in preserving and promoting the history of Idaho.

Parry attended the University of Utah and Weber State University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with an emphasis in history. His passions in life are his wife, Melody, seven children, 17 grandchildren, and his Tribal family. His goal is to make sure those who have gone before him are not forgotten.


Retired Air Force General Bruce Carlson began his 38-year military career as a commissioned officer in 1971, after graduating with distinction from the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Minnesota Duluth with a degree in accounting. Following flight school, he flew fighter and forward air control aircraft, serving a combat tour in Southeast Asia. He also is a graduate of the Air Force’s Fighter Weapons School.

As a command pilot with more than 3,900 flying hours in several fighter aircraft, he commanded the Air Force’s first stealth fighter wing, the 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. He also served in the offices of the secretary of the Air Force and secretary of defense and as the director, J-8 Force Structure, Resources and Assessment on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In his final assignment he commanded the Air Force’s Materiel Command at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Following his retirement from active duty, General Carlson was asked by the Obama Administration to serve as the 17th director of the National Reconnaissance Office for three years. Currently, he is a member of Lockheed Martin’s board of directors and serves as chair of the USU Space Dynamics Laboratory Board of Directors and as chair of the SDL Guidance Council.

Through his work with SDL, Bruce has a strong connection to USU. His business success has afforded him the opportunity to give back to the university, where he generously supports nearly every area of campus.

Bruce and his wife of 54 years, Vicki, have three children and 14 grandchildren.

Gail Miller.

Darren Parry.

Bruce Carlson.


Tim Olsen
Managing Editor
Utah State Magazine


Amanda DeRito
Associate VP of Strategic Communications
University Marketing and Communications


Alumni 178stories Commencement 71stories

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