Family and Friends Remember Tad Foote with Stories, Songs, and Love

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

Foote Memorial 2

From left, Elijah Shaw, President Foote’s nephew; sons William Fulbright Foote and Edward “Thad” Thaddeus Foote III; and nephew Nathan Tolliver-Shaw perform a musical tribute to President Foote.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 27, 2016)—It was a simple wave of the hand that made a then-8-year-old Edward “Thad” Thaddeus Foote III “feel good.”

Amid all the pomp and circumstance of his father’s inauguration as the University of Miami’s fourth president in 1981, “he found me in the crowd, made eye contact with me, and flashed me a little wave,” recalled Foote III. “It made me feel important and comfortable. It made me feel good.”

With stories, aphorisms, and music, the younger Foote, along with his older brother and sister, honored his late father, Edward Thaddeus “Tad” Foote II, who served as UM president from 1981 to 2001, on Tuesday at a memorial service held at Gusman Concert Hall on the Coral Gables campus.

“He cared deeply about making the world a better place,” said William Fulbright Foote. His father, he noted, was an accomplished folk singer and musician who was once offered a contract by RCA Records but turned it down, and used to transcribe old recordings of cowboy songs while he was a newspaper reporter. His life, he said, was filled with music right up until the end.

Foote passed away on February 15. He was 78.

“Music didn’t make the man. Dad loved making the music,” said William, occasionally singing verses from some of his father’s favorite songs.

In honor of Foote, the two sons, along with nephews Elijah Shaw and Nathan Tolliver-Shaw, performed “Angel Band.”

Julia Foote LeStage, Foote’s daughter, spoke lovingly of her father from a family perspective, noting that he raised her with the same standards he held for himself. “He always made me feel special,” she said.

Foote also never failed to acknowledge how important his wife, Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote, who passed away last May, was to him. “His steady counselor” is how he often referred to her, said LeStage.

LeStage told the audience of more than 400 people that when a then-3-year-old Foote lost his own father, his mother told him he was the man of the house. “He wore the mantle of responsibility for the next 75 years of his life,” and that was evident in Foote’s ability to step up and lead in difficult times, said LeStage.

As UM’s fourth president, Foote significantly raised the academic and research stature of the school, spearheaded a capital fundraising campaign that was the second largest in the history of American higher education at the time, and instituted a series of other reforms that ranged from improved facilities to new academic programs.

“He set the bar high when it came to guiding this University with both authority and grace, always keeping the development and enrichment of our students as his top priority,” said current UM President Julio Frenk.

Foote’s first cousin, Adlai Hardin, said UM’s former president was “no stranger to complex and difficult tasks,” noting that in 1969 as an attorney in St. Louis, Missouri, Foote helped found the New City School, a private elementary school with a diverse student body.

Foote had an uncanny ability to speak off the cuff, Hardin said, recalling that the “remarkable man” he knew since they were little boys delivered, without any preparation, the keynote address at the eighth grade graduation ceremony for Hardin’s son.

Hardin also recalled Foote’s wit and sense of humor. In the summer of 1954, while traveling from Wyoming to Wisconsin in Foote’s Dodge coupe, the two decided to take shelter in an abandoned Nebraska farmhouse until a storm passed. As the storm raged outside, Hardin fell asleep but was suddenly jolted from his slumber by a loud noise. Foote had hurled one of his boots against the farmhouse wall—a practical joke that Hardin, he said laughingly, would eventually recover from. He was a “great friend and confidant of my entire lifetime. There was none better,” said Hardin.

UM Trustee Charles E. Cobb, Jr. said being a “leader of change” was one of the key qualities members of the then-search committee for the University’s fourth president wanted in a new presidential candidate, “and we certainly found that in Tad Foote.” Cobb, who served on that committee, noted Foote’s decision to decrease the student body and raise admission standards—a policy trustees were a bit reluctant to accept at first. But over time, Cobb said, that decision was the right one, as the average SAT score of incoming freshmen rose from 1072 to 1202 by the end of Foote’s administration.

Cobb also called Foote an “extraordinary leader in the broader community,” noting that he tackled Miami’s drug and crime problems head-on by creating the Miami Coalition for a Safe and Drug-Free Community, a broad-based task force that approached the community’s drug problems from every conceivable angle, such as establishing treatment programs, destroying crack houses, securing federal funding to strengthen law enforcement, and creating drug-free school zones.

A 10-minute video tribute, produced by UM’s Division of University Communications, provided the audience with further insight into the type of man Foote was.

“He was the No. 1 Hurricane,” Cyrus “Russ” Jollivette, who served as executive assistant to the president and vice president for government relations under Foote, said in the video tribute.

He was “ethical, hardworking, super smart, and always wanted UM to get better,” said Pat Whitely, who became vice president for student affairs during Foote’s administration.

“Distinguished” and “noble” is how former School of Architecture Dean Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk described Foote.

Former UM Provost Luis Glaser; former Senior Vice President for Business and Finance David Lieberman; Senior Trustees Ronald “Ron” Stone and David R. Weaver; and former Athletic Director Sam Jankovich are among others who appear in the video tribute.

In delivering a prayer at the end of Tuesday’s memorial service, Foote’s sister, Letitia Shields, said her brother was “guided by what he believed was right and moral, and through it all never sought glory for himself.”

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Public Health Student Association Holds Inaugural Awareness Night at Marlins Park

Special to UM News


Members of the Public Health Student Association gather for the inaugural Public Health Awareness Night at Marlins Park.

MIAMI, Fla. (April 28, 2016)—Protecting the health of a community is no small task, but it is the primary mission of the University of Miami’s Public Health Student Association. As the flagship student group dedicated to developing the future cadre of public health professionals, PHSA members partnered with the Miami Marlins on April 20, to host the inaugural Public Health Awareness Night at Marlins Park, raising more than $3,000 to support  the PHSA’s community outreach and health fairs.

In collaboration with PHSA advisor Nancy Alvarez, senior program coordinator for the Masters of Public Health program, PHSA members organized a series of public health activities before and during the game to emphasize community health promotion and disease prevention. Children of all age groups, and their parents, engaged in activities highlighting the importance of physical activity, balanced healthy diets, smoking cessation, mosquito control, and learning about public health.

During the game, PHSA officers and planning committee members, including Monica Bahamon, Stephanie Maestri, Rolando Calderin, Nadia Abouhana, Katerina Santiago, and Elizabeth Soriano, held a 50/50 raffle, engaged with fans, and posed for a picture at home base. Alvarez had the honor of  throwing the first pitch, with PHSA members accompanying her on the field.

Students from Booker T. Washington High School, a school in Miami’s low-income Overtown neighborhood, assisted in the events.

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White House Recognizes Ph.D. Candidate as Champion of Change

Special to UM News

UM's is recognized by Vice President Joe Biden.

Vice President Joe Biden recognizes UM nursing student Valerie Halstead.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 26, 2016)The White House has honored 10 student leaders, including the School of Nursing and Health Studies’ own Valerie Halstead, for their efforts to change the culture around sexual assault and dating violence on their campuses.

Halstead, a registered nurse who is pursuing her Ph.D. in nursing at UM, was recognized as one of the nation’s “It’s On Us White House Champions of Change” for her work with the University of Miami President’s Campus Coalition on Sexual Violence and Prevention. She was nominated for the award by coalition leaders.

“This honor recognizes not only my work but the work of the campus coalition,” said Halstead, whose dissertation research is exploring how campus health centers can implement best practices when caring for victims of sexual violence. “It empowered me to keep striving to make a difference in students’ lives.”

The April 14 gathering included a roundtable discussion with White House officials and policymakers who wanted to learn about the frontline campus initiatives represented by the students. It was followed by student-led panels on ending the rape culture and on engaging men and communities in this effort. Halstead spoke about the coalition’s efforts to engage students in an ongoing dialogue on sexual assault and about the importance of providing victims with appropriate health care resources.

The event closed with remarks by Vice President Joe Biden, who with President Obama launched the It’s On Us campaign in September 2014 to wake up  colleges and universities—and the nation—to the epidemic of sexual violence on their campuses. Halstead had an opportunity to share her thoughts about her work with the vice president, who, as a U.S. senator, sponsored the landmark 1994 Violence Against Women Act. “He’s very dedicated to this issue and genuinely invested in changing the culture,” Halstead said.

Halstead plans to stay in touch with the other awardees and to collaborate at the national level. “It was inspiring to be a part of the national conversation and to meet others who are passionate about the same challenges,” she said. “The gathering was a huge force for collaboration and change.”


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Frenk Discusses Innovation Hub at eMerge

emergeBy Meredith Camel
UM News

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (April 20, 2016) — It turns out that soccer—better known throughout Latin America as fútbol—could teach scientists a thing or two about the power of global connectivity.

“Just like soccer has become a global sport, where people move around freely to play in Europe but come back home to represent their national team, we should be able to do the same thing with the critical mass of scientists, engineers, and innovators we already have throughout the entire hemisphere,” said University of Miami President Julio Frenk, speaking on the topic of “A Hemispheric Innovation Strategy” at the third annual eMerge Americas technology conference in Miami on April 19.

In his 20-minute presentation, Frenk described the role he sees the University of Miami as ideally suited to play—a hub for linking the vast intellectual capital that exists in Latin America with a pathway to develop “science into solutions.”

Many Latin American countries, he explained, lack regulatory frameworks, access to investment capital, access to major global markets, and other resources that translate discoveries into real-world applications. An “innovation hub here in Miami,” he said, can provide essential frameworks “without contributing to brain drain in the region.”

“The future of the region,” he continued, “must be to insert itself squarely into the knowledge economy. We can’t continue to bet on commodities—we’ve just seen what the current drop in commodities prices is doing to the economy in Latin America. And the model where we export labor is reaching its limit.”

Frenk described the University’s plan to host a Hemispheric Innovation and Technology (HIT) initiative, which will unite top thinkers, designers, and resources at the University with complementary counterparts throughout the hemisphere. Members will work together to build and sustain an “innovation ecosystem” where basic research progresses into the testing, development, and launch of innovations that generate funding to “restart the engine of basic research.” Frenk also announced that the Cambridge Innovation Center, which has helped more than 1,200 startup businesses take flight, is a new tenant at the University of Miami’s Life Science & Technology Park, bringing occupancy in the park’s first building to 100 percent.

“If you look at every single major innovation ecosystem, along with startups and venture capitalists, at the heart of that ecosystem, there’s a comprehensive research university,” Frenk said. “And that university is the University of Miami—a comprehensive research university that can partner with many other entities to really take full advantage of the strategic value of being located in this crossroads of the Americas.”

Positioning the University as a hemispheric innovation hub aligns with all four aspirations Frenk unveiled during his January 2016 inaugural address: to be the hemispheric, excellent, relevant, and exemplary university. He shared these aspirations during his eMerge Americas session, which also included a Q&A with Telemundo journalist Edgardo del Villar.

The University of Miami has been a global sponsor every year since the 2013 launch of eMerge Americas, which attracted more than 13,000 attendees this year from Latin America, North America, and Europe. In addition to President Frenk, a UM faculty member and a UM student also delivered presentations at the conference. Alberto Cairo, Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the School of Communication, presented “Unlocking the Power of Data Visualization for Journalists, Scientists, and the Rest of Us.” Connor Masterson, a business law and finance major in the School of Business Administration and founder of two startups, served on the panel “University Entrepreneurship Programs: Student Perspectives.”



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Professor a Vital Player in Colombian Peace Talks

Special to UM New

UM College of Arts & Sciences professor to be a special advisor to Colombia’s president as the country continues peace talks with FARC leaders


Elvira Maria Restrepo

Elvira Maria Restrepo, assistant professor of geography and regional studies at the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences, is taking a public service leave for one year to be a special advisor to Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos while the government continues its peace process with FARC guerrillas.

“I am very excited to join President Santos’ team as they work to build a cohesive plan for peace in Colombia,” said Dr. Restrepo. “This is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Colombian government is very close to signing an agreement after more than five decades of war and more than three years of negotiations. As a member of the team, I will be responsible for creating strategies to build peace and implement post-conflict initiatives.”

Dr. Restrepo, who lived in Colombia for 25 years, is an expert in Colombian politics and its justice system. She has written and published numerous research articles and books on Colombia, such as The Colombian Criminal Justice in Crisis: Fear and Distrust (2003), which focuses on the country’s failing judiciary system. She also wrote the entry for Colombia in the first Encyclopedia of Transitional Justice (S. Lavinia and N. Nedelsky, editors, Cambridge University Press, 2013), as well as her most recent publication related to peace building, Against all Odds: Women Victims of Conflict in Colombia (Palgrave Communications, 2016).

Dr. Restrepo will take her leave from the University of Miami in June and plans to travel back and forth from Colombia to her home in South Florida once she takes on the role as special advisor to President Santos.

“I hope this is a successful mission,” she said. “I care deeply about this issue and am a great believer that Colombia can make this peace process happen. This endeavor will be a restructuring of the individual and collective players in Colombia. My immediate goal is to advise the government and help initiate pilot projects geared to societal reconciliation, before scaling them up to the national level.”

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