Hundreds Turn Out to Advance Roadmap

School of Law Professor Michael Froomkin discusses engineering and technology at one town hall.

School of Law Professor Michael Froomkin discusses engineering and technology at one town hall.

The final of seven Roadmap Town Hall meetings concluded on Friday with hundreds of faculty, staff, and students attending one or more of the seven forums aimed at advancing the Roadmap to Our New Century and fulfilling the University of Miami’s aspirations of becoming the hemispheric, excellent, relevant, and exemplary university by its 2025 centennial.

“One hundred years is emblematic for a university because if you’ve made it to 100, it means you have the potential to be there for the long haul,” UM President Julio Frenk said.

Explaining why the University has embarked on this journey, the president noted that higher education is facing “disruptive challenges” as well as “unprecedented opportunities.” The Roadmap process has been an inclusive exercise designed by our community to enable the University to shape its future—one that will thrive in this environment.

“If we do that,” Frenk said, “we’ll not only celebrate our 100th anniversary, but we will be well poised to celebrate our 200th and 300th.”

The Roadmap Town Halls, which began on September 15 at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, moved to the Miller School and Coral Gables campuses over the next eight days. The purpose of the Town Halls was to discuss and refine the proposals that grew out of Frenk’s intensive University-wide Listening Exercise that began last fall and that led to a design process informed by a diverse group of members from the University community.

In the coming weeks, the Office of the President will discuss the Roadmap Initiatives with the Faculty Senate and Student Government before presenting them to the Board of Trustees.

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New Indoor Practice Facility Will Level the Playing Field for Miami Football

Special to UM News

indoorfacilityCORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 23, 2016)—With thunderstorms and lightning occasionally disrupting valuable practice time for the Miami Hurricanes football team, an indoor practice facility had long been on the University of Miami’s wish list.

Now, a multimillion-dollar gift from a prominent South Florida real estate developer and his family will not only help build the much-needed site but will even the playing field for one of the few schools in a major conference still lacking such a facility.

On Friday, UM  announced  the largest donation in the history of its Department of Athletics, the lead gift for a state-of-the-art football indoor practice facility. In honor of their mother, Carol, Jeffrey Soffer and Carol’s other children, have made a $14 million commitment towards the Carol Soffer Football Indoor Practice Facility.

“I’ve been a passionate supporter of the University of Miami Athletics Department for over 20 years, and I’m honored that my family and I can be part of this tremendous project,” Carol Soffer said. “The football indoor practice facility will bring a new dimension to the University. It will have a lasting effect on all student-athletes now and in the future.”

indoor-practice-facilityThe 81,800-square-foot facility will feature two field-turf fields—one 80 yards long and an additional 40-yard field directly connecting to the Squillante Strength and Conditioning Center. The facility will be located on the current football practice grounds and will feature interconnectivity to the Hecht Athletic Center and the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence.

“Athletic excellence is an integral part of the University of Miami, building character and community,” said UM President Julio Frenk. “It is in this spirit that I thank the Soffer family on behalf of our student-athletes and the entire U family.”

The project includes a 20,000-square-foot football operations center with a mezzanine level that will house all of the football coaches’ office space with views overlooking the indoor fields. The football center will also feature six position meeting rooms, a head coach’s suite, three coaches’ conference rooms, a first-class football recruiting suite complete with lounges and meeting rooms, as well as a state-of-the-art video center.

“Today we take yet another step forward in continuing our mission of Building Champions at the University of Miami,” Director of Athletics Blake James said. “The generosity of Carol Soffer’s children and others enables us to build one of the finest football facilities in the nation, which will serve the needs of our football program and all our student-athletes for years to come. We are forever grateful to Jeffrey, and Carol’s other children for their support of and passion for UM Athletics.”

To date, $24 million of the $34 million project has already been pledged by donors, with fundraising continuing through the fall. Groundbreaking will occur as soon as all funds have been committed.

“An indoor practice facility means a great deal to this football program,” said head football coach Mark Richt. “I am grateful that the University and the Department of Athletics recognized the need for an indoor facility and worked tirelessly to make it happen. I can’t thank the Soffer family enough for their contribution and helping us bring this project to fruition. We appreciate Carol’s generous and deeply committed support of Miami Hurricane Athletics.”

The facility’s namesake, Carol Soffer is a lifelong champion of the University of Miami football program and athletics department, and an active member of the University community. Originally from Chicago, Carol has been a Golden Cane Society donor for over 20 years and supported many Miami Athletics initiatives, most recently the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence project.




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Mission to Employ the Full Spectrum is an ‘Upstander’

By Deserae del Campo
UM News


Starbucks ‘Upstanders’ series includes a film about a South Florida family, who with UM’s help, founded a car wash company that employs people with autism.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 23, 2016)—What does it mean to be an “upstander?” According to Starbucks, upstanders make the kind of difference in their communities that the D’Eri family, who opened a car wash company that employs people with autism, is making in South Florida.

Debuting this month, Starbucks “Upstanders” series, a collection of 10 video stories about people from across the country who are engaging “in acts of compassion, citizenship, and civility,” includes the short film, “Employing the Full Spectrum.” The video, which explains  how and why John and Donna D’Eri founded Rising Tide Car Wash to give people like their son, Andrew, opportunities for employment and independence, includes an appearance by the autism expert they collaborated with: Michael Alessandri, clinical professor of psychology and executive director of the UM-NSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD).

“CARD has been working with the D’Eri family since they came to Florida and were eager to open a business and employ adults with autism,” said Alessandri, who is opening a new CARD office in Broward County today. “Starbucks contacted the family and said they wanted to feature them and how they are changing the conversation about employing people with disabilities. The D’Eri family then reached out to me asking if I would be interested in sharing my thoughts about their journey with Starbucks, and of course, I was happy to.”

Written and produced by Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman and CEO, and Starbucks executive producer Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the Upstanders series includes other inspiring stories that range from a former football player who helps wounded athletes heal to a community in Michigan collecting enough money to provide high-school students with college scholarships. The 10 videos, plus articles and audio podcasts, can be accessed on the Upstanders site.

Alessandri’s connection with the D’Eri family began five years ago when they arrived in South Florida from New York with a dream of opening a business where the majority of employees have autism. They joined Alessandri’s team in submitting a grant proposal designed to disseminate best practices in creating sustainable employment opportunities for adults on the autism spectrum. Their initiative, “Awakening Autism Entrepreneurs,” promotes the competitive advantages of autism in the workplace, and they are hopeful it will contribute to changing the conversation about the capabilities of people with autism.

The grant, funded by a private foundation, is allowing UM and Rising Tide to bring this critical message, along with the autism expertise of Alessandri and the business expertise of the D’Eris, to families and entrepreneurs around the country.

For Alessandri the goal is not to provide charity for people with autism, but opportunities for them to be independent. “I really believe in what Rising Tide is doing and their commitment to creating a positive movement about people with autism and their employability,” he said.

Currently, 80 to 90 percent of people with autism are either unemployed or underemployed in the workplace. Clinical research has shown that many people with autism function well in highly regimental systems with clear expectations and systematic processes and procedures. Where the average person becomes bored with repetition, people with autism may be more comfortable with the predictable nature of such work.

Along with the new grant, CARD is expanding its services in Broward County by opening a new branch office at Nova Southeastern University’s campus in Miramar, which will house CARD’s Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Transition and Adult Programs. Currently, CARD has two main offices, one on UM’s Coral Gables campus and one at NSU in the Broward city of Davie. This Miramar branch brings CARD’s total branch offices to three, with additional sites in Homestead and Miami Lakes.

“It’s really important that we open this new office because it is situated in a location that will allow us to serve a more densely populated area where many of our families live,” said Alessandri. “The office will provide job training, social groups for adults and teenagers, and job clubs. It will also allow us to see more clients and expand our longstanding collaboration with NSU.”







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Peru’s President Brings Hemispheric Vision to UM

Peruvian economy highlighted in annual Americas Conference, focusing on the future of Latin America.

By Jessica M. Castillo
UM News


Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, left, visited UM for the annual Americas Conference, moderated by The Miami Herald‘s Andres Oppenheimer, right.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 22, 2016)—In a visit to the University of Miami organized by the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald last week, newly elected Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski discussed the need for diversifying the Andean nation’s economy and the future of Latin America.

Hosted at the University’s Braman Miller Center for Jewish Student Life and moderated in Spanish by The Herald’s Andres Oppenheimer, the annual Americas Conference Series reflected University of Miami President Julio Frenk’s hopes and aspirations for the University as it approaches its centennial.

“The University of Miami is in a unique position to become the hemispheric university, in other words, the pole that unites the huge intellectual capital of the entire region with collaborative platforms aimed at finding solutions and with resources for innovation,” Frenk said in his opening remarks.

It was fitting for the series, which focuses on discussing economic, political and public policy issues facing the U.S. and Latin America, to feature Kuczynski. Nicknamed PPK for his initials, he is an Oxford- and Princeton-educated economist with decades of experience at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and in private banking on Wall Street and in Miami. He also has served as Peru’s prime minister, economy and finance minister, mining minister, and head of the Central Reserve Bank.

Attended by Latin American business leaders and members of the media and broader South Florida community, the discussion focused on Kuczynski’s seasoned perspective on how to continue growing the Peruvian economy and make it another beacon of opportunity in Latin America. Kuczynski, whose second vice president is Mercedes Araoz, an alumna of UM’s School of Business Administration, called for greater investments in key sectors including tourism, agribusiness, and infrastructure to support irrigation projects and the raw materials industry.

“We need to have a diversified economy,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if that includes raw materials. To think that exporting raw materials is bad is a huge mistake. Look at Canada and Australia. But raw materials or not, it should still be diversified.”

Kuczynski echoed his call from his presidential campaign to lessen bureaucratic hurdles. “We need to allow the economy to grow and not let government get in the way of growth.”

He also fielded questions about Venezuela and Cuba and their respective changing political, social, and economic landscapes. Most vocal about Peru’s continental neighbor, Kuczynski called for the need for a humanitarian aid group, composed of Peru and other Latin American countries, to provide Venezuelans with much-needed food, health care, and other basic services which so many have so little access to.

“From one day to the next, the country will face total collapse and there will be blood in the streets,” warned Kuczynski. “But, Peru is a middle-income country,” he said, “and this can’t be done without Brazil, the leading Latin American economy.”

Yet Kuczynski expressed optimism about the future and the importance of opportunities for starting over. “We’ve hit rock bottom before and I know we will get back up.”

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Register to Vote at UM’s National Voter Registration Day on September 27

Faculty, staff, students and anyone else who wants to register for the November 8 presidential election will have the opportunity on Tuesday, September 27, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m when Get Out The Vote brings National Voter Registration Day to the Lakeside Patio with Hurricane Productions, College Republicans, and College Democrats.

If you need to update your voter registration card, your information, or still need to register to vote, stop by the Lakeside Patio Stage to become actively engaged in this year’s election and spread the word about voting.

National Voter Registration Day  started for the 2012 presidential election. It has now become an annual holiday and celebration when thousands of people ensure our family, friends, and neighbors are registered to vote.

For more information contact, email vote@miami.edu or post on social media using #CelebrateNVRD or #UMGOTV.


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