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M. Sue Artmeier
Kelley School of Business

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IU Communications

Last modified: Friday, March 23, 2012

Vera Bradley co-founder Patricia Miller speaking at IU Entrepreneurial Connection Day

March 23, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Patricia R. Miller, a 1960 Indiana University graduate and co-founder of Vera Bradley, will be the keynote speaker at this year's Entrepreneurial Connection Day at the IU Kelley School of Business on Friday, March 30.

Patricia R. Miller

Patricia R. Miller

Print-Quality Photo

The event is sponsored by the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Kelley School. Miller also will receive the William L. Haeberle Entrepreneurial Legacy Award, which is given to those who have made an indelible impact on the Indiana entrepreneurship culture.

Miller, who earned a bachelor's degree in education from IU, will share her story of creating Vera Bradley with her business partner. The program will begin at 1 p.m. in Room 3059/65 of the Godfrey Graduate and Executive Education Center, 1275 E. 10th St.

Upon graduating from IU Bloomington, Miller began a teaching career in Indiana, unaware that her business acumen and fashion sense would take her far beyond the classroom. She and fellow Fort Wayne resident Barbara Bradley Baekgaard started Vera Bradley with an investment of $250 each. Today, their Fort Wayne-based company is an internationally recognized brand. Vera Bradley's fiscal 2011 sales were $366 million.

The company's stock is listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange under VRA. Chances are you've seen their handbags, travel bags and accessories on top-rated television programs such as "Desperate Housewives," "The Apprentice," "Entourage" and "Modern Family," as well as in more than 20 feature films. More than 3,300 specialty stores and 42 Vera Bradley company stores sell their products -- which now also include paper and gift items.

Miller served as Vera Bradley's co-president until recently; she now serves as Vera Bradley's national spokeswoman and company director. In 2005-06, she took a leave of absence from the company to serve as Indiana's first secretary of commerce and CEO of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. at the request of Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Miller also will speak of the responsibility of giving back to the community. Baekgaard and Miller established the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer in June 1998. The foundation has pledged $20 million to endow a chair in oncology at the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis. Miller also sits on numerous philanthropic boards and foundations.

The entrepreneurial-focused event is for IU and Kelley alumni and current students. The program includes a networking session and reception. Kelley alumni with entrepreneurial experience are invited to participate by giving "elevator" pitches about their companies, their services, hiring or internships availabilities, or mentoring interests. The students are asked to pitch their business ideas and needs.

"This unique networking format encourages our alumni to interact in an open venue where everyone can benefit by their appearance. We want the entrepreneurial alumni of the Kelley School of Business to know that they are genuinely important to us and that they can be a conduit to the future successes of our entrepreneurship program," said Donald F. Kuratko, executive director of the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

For more information, call 812-855-4248 or visit