Fellowship established to honor Kavanaugh-Miller

Pictured left to right are Karen Kavanaugh-Miller's sons Kyle Miller and Kollin Miller, first fellowship recipient Amanda Robine, and Kavanaugh-Miller's husband, Kenn Miller.

Fellowship established to honor Kavanaugh-Miller

05 Feb 2015    By Brad Stauffer

“Food and exercise is to enhance our lives, not add more stress.” These were words to live by for Karen Kavanaugh-Miller who devoted her professional life to helping people live healthier, happier lives. The past president of the Nebraska Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spent 22 years practicing as a registered dietitian at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She died March 6, 2014, after a courageous battle against pancreatic cancer.

To honor her legacy, her family has established the Karen S. Kavanaugh-Miller Memorial Fellowship for graduate students in the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences, part of UNL’s College of Education and Human Sciences. Students must be participants in the UNL Dietetics Internship Program. Preference is given to students who are employed by, volunteer or are active participants in any UNL Campus Recreation wellness and fitness program.

The first recipient of the Karen S. Kavanaugh-Miller Memorial Fellowship is Amanda Robine from Omaha. She is a 2013 graduate of the College of Education and Human Sciences at UNL. 

“The focus of Karen’s fellowship is on students who have a passion for both dietetics and wellness,” said Tim Carr, department chair of Nutrition and Health Sciences. “Karen was responsible for helping develop the wellness program at Campus Recreation, so the fellowship is a wonderful legacy to her and the contributions she made to health and well-being.”

Additional gifts to the fellowship are being accepted through the University of Nebraska Foundation. For more information, contact Jane Heany at jheany@nufoundation.org or 402-458-1177.

For 17 years, Kavanaugh-Miller served a split appointment with the University Health Center and Campus Recreation, but in more recent years was devoted full-time to working with Campus Recreation clients on a diverse array of nutrition and wellness strategies.

Kavanaugh-Miller’s passion was helping people be happy with themselves and to find joy and pleasure in food. She was especially gifted helping students and others overcome eating disorders. A favorite quote of hers exemplified her philosophy of leading a happy life:

It does not matter

  if you’re big or small,

It does not matter

  if you’re short of tall,

My advice

   for one and all,

Is to love yourself

  for who you are!

Many students at UNL and other professionals saw Kavanaugh-Miller as a mentor. Both undergraduate and graduate students found her a valuable source for advice and encouragement as they pursued degrees in health and nutrition.

“This fellowship is a wonderful reflection of Karen’s passion for serving as a mentor to students and always doing everything she could to support them toward achieving their personal and professional goals,” said Linda Young, a former professor of Kavanaugh-Miller and a longtime colleague and friend.

Kavanaugh-Miller earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UNL and completed the Dietetic Internship Program. In addition to being a registered dietitian, she was also a licensed medical nutrition therapist; a certified personal trainer; WellCoaches certified health, fitness, wellness coach; and held a certificate in adult weight management through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


College of Education and Human Sciences
Nutrition and Health Sciences