Special to UM News
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 18, 2015) — The Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music’s naming benefactors, Dr. Phillip and Patricia Frost, have donated $1 million to support and rename the school’s highly effective Frost MusicReach community music program in honor of UM President Donna E. Shalala, who will step down at the end of the 2015 academic year.
In early December, the Frosts surprised Dean Shelton G. Berg with the news of the gift at the Frost School’s annual holiday gala fundraiser, Winter Wonderful. The announcement was made after the performance of Frost School of Music undergraduate mentors and their young mentees from the outreach program. Proceeds from the holiday gala fund music mentoring scholarships. The Frosts’ new $1 million gift is the largest commitment to the MusicReach program and is in support of Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami.
In its seventh year, the program, now known as the Donna E. Shalala MusicReach Program at the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music, provides free weekly hands-on music instruction to more than 450 elementary, middle, and high school students in Miami-Dade County, taught by Frost School students. Thanks to this new gift from the Frosts, The Donna E. Shalala MusicReach Program will annually serve more than 1,500 youth.
“I can’t think of a better way to honor President Shalala and her legacy than to have one of the crown jewel programs of the Frost School of Music to be named in her honor,” Phillip Frost said. “The Donna E. Shalala MusicReach Program at the Frost School of Music exemplifies excellence and meaningful community engagement, and those are both legacies of her 14 years leading UM.”
“We witnessed the strong bond that developed between the young mentors and their younger mentees and understand how much it means to assist the younger students,” Patricia Frost said. “Since Dean Berg arrived on campus, President Shalala has been a strong supporter of his work, and we thought it would be nice to honor her association with the Frost School by dedicating a program in her name that combines academic excellence and strengthens the community.”
President Shalala said she is deeply honored by the Frosts’ extraordinary gesture. “By ensuring the Shalala MusicReach Program’s continued success in our community, they created a culture of music and learning that spans the educational continuum from primary to post-secondary and beyond. I am proud this vital and vibrant outreach effort will continue my legacy,” Shalala said.
When Berg arrived at UM eight years ago from Los Angeles, his goal was to establish a large community music outreach program similar to the one he had founded as a professor of music at the University of Southern California. In addition to assisting young students to excel, Berg also “wanted to inspire undergraduate music majors at UM to engage in community service in proximity to campus, with the hope of instilling a lifelong commitment to serving others.”
“Learning to play a musical instrument provides a proven, positive experience on every level for children, from enhanced self-esteem to improved neurologic development,” said Berg. “We are all grateful for this generous gift from Phillip and Patricia Frost as it validates our collective efforts and President Shalala’s to enhance the vibrancy of our community.”
Today more than 40 Frost undergraduate and graduate students and four graduate teaching assistant supervisors provide semi-private music lessons, life mentoring, and group instruction in local public school and community centers. The program, funded predominantly through private donations, is administered by UM Frost School alumna Melissa Lesniak, Ph.D., former executive director of the Greater Miami Youth Symphony.
Phillip and Patricia Frost have contributed generously to UM, including their naming gift for the music school in 2003, and their support continues. A new state-of-the-art Patricia Louise Frost Music Studios complex, which has more than 77 individual teaching and chamber music studios plus large classrooms for percussion and contemporary music production, opened last month. It is the first LEED Platinum building to open in the city of Coral Gables. Phillip Frost, M.D., is a UM trustee and served as chairman of the UM Board of Trustees from 2001 to 2004.
The Frosts have also contributed to other educational institutions in the South Florida region, including the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in downtown Miami, currently under construction.