In both his life and his work, MVCC alum Musco Millner III dedicated to helping others
Musco Millner III ’90 speaks often of blessings. He counts many in his own life — from his strong family bonds to the opportunities he has had to serve others, and even the difficulties he has faced — all of which have helped shape who he is today.
But most of all, Millner talks about the importance of being a blessing to others.
“You can’t change the world, but you can change the moment,” he says. “The blessed of us must help the rest of us.”
That is the approach Millner — MVCC's 2022 Alumnus of Merit — takes in life and in his career, which includes teaching college math as an adjunct instructor in addition to a long, proud career in law enforcement.
Millner is now Director of Campus Safety at Utica University, a role he took on after retiring from the New York State Police in 2019. During his 26 years with the State Police, Millner was assigned to various locations of Central New York as well as the Capital Region. While no two patrol days were ever alike, it all came down to helping people solve problems.
“In law enforcement, you meet people at life’s crossroads,” he says. “Our job is to help at those crossroads.”
After years of serving as a patrol Trooper, Millner was assigned to the Forensic Unit, an exciting opportunity that presented some unique challenges. “I was the first African American member in the history of the New York State Police to be assigned to a Troop Forensic Identification Unit,” he says. “Upon arrival to the unit, one would say that the welcome was everything except that.”
The hardships of feeling unwelcomed in his new surroundings caused Millner to consider transferring back to the field. But with the encouragement of his parents and his own problem-solving approach, Millner persevered. “Those words of wisdom from my parents — I could hear them daily — ‘You belong. You stay. You sit up front. The day will come when you have to leave, and they won’t want you to.’”
About 10 years later, that day came. Millner was appointed Senior Investigator and was transferred to the Forensic Investigation Center in Albany. Several months after his transfer, he received a special request to return to the local Troop Forensic Identification Unit as the Unit Coordinator. One year later, Millner received the Bureau of Criminal Investigation Member of the Year Award.
Even in retirement, Millner’s impact continues to resonate with his former colleagues at all levels within the State Police. “Younger people who came up after me have told me, ‘Musco, your spirit is still here.’ That’s heavy,” he says. “I’m grateful that I was part of somebody else’s journey.”
No matter where his career in law enforcement has taken him, Millner is always ready to answer the call to teach. “I enjoy being a part of the students’ better today and tomorrow.”
Currently teaching math and criminal justice courses as an adjunct faculty member at MVCC and Utica University, he takes great pride in seeing his students learn and grow. “I can’t put a dollar value on the feeling I get when a student reaches that point of understanding,” he says. “Being a part of their breakthroughs is what it is all about.”
Millner says his teaching philosophy is modeled after two of his MVCC professors — Donald Willner and the late Theodore “Ted” Moore” — who nurtured his passion for mathematics and solving problems.
“As a young African American male who loved math, I am so thankful for the atmosphere they created in their classrooms,” he says. “They saw something in me and encouraged me to stick with it. I not only learned mathematics; I learned about life and the importance of being a blessing to others.”
Millner came to MVCC in 1988 after a medical disqualification from Virginia Tech’s ROTC program. He returned home and enrolled full-time at MVCC as a math major, taking courses at both the Utica and Rome campuses. “Everything happens for a reason,” he says. “I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now.”
After graduating from MVCC, Millner earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University at Albany and a master’s degree in mathematics education from Empire State College. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction with a specialization in mathematics education through University at Albany.
Throughout the years, Millner has been recognized for accomplishments in law enforcement, teaching and giving back to the community. In October 2022, Millner was named the recipient of the Booker T. Washington Freedom Fund Award by the Rome NAACP in recognition of his dedication to education and law enforcement and setting an example for those rising behind him. Other honors include the Excellence in Adjunct Teaching Award (2019), SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching (2020), Utica/Rome Historically Black Ministerial Alliance Community Service Award (2019), Rome Wesleyan Church Appreciation Award for Loyalty and Faithfulness (2017), Bureau of Criminal Investigations Member of the Year (2011), and Oneida County Law Enforcement Coalition Service Award (1998).
Millner says the core values of MVCC continue to impact his life in meaningful ways. They taught him the importance of embracing community and being a model of what others can strive to achieve. “MVCC was the launching pad,” he says. “The instruction I received instilled in me the confidence that I could achieve anything I set my mind to. It was at MVCC where I learned who I was, where I was going, and how I was going to get there.”