Bird’s Eye View of the U

About 1,000 University of Miami freshmen, transfer, commuter, and international students assembled on the Foote Green to form a giant U that would have made even Robert Ripley proud.

UM News

Big U on CampusCORAL GABLES, Fla. (August 26, 2014) – The call for assistance went out on social media weeks before the start of the 2014-15 academic year: The University of Miami’s newest Hurricanes were needed for a special project of jumbo-sized proportions. The word spread so quickly that by the time New Student Orientation rolled around, UM’s office of Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement had more than enough able bodies on hand to accomplish a feat that would have made even Robert Ripley proud.

Braving another warm South Florida day, about 1,000 freshmen, transfer, commuter, and international students assembled August 23 on the Foote Green to form an oversized split U, the iconic symbol of their beloved University. Many of the students arrived in groups, coming together like a giant school of fish to shape themselves into a U that was 18 times larger than the metal statue of the logo that stands on the lawn near the UM Rock.

Making it happen was no easy task, though. “I knew we had to be exact on the measurements,” said Lexi Matiash, director of commencement and special projects, who handled the logistics for the project.

Matiash first recorded the dimensions of the University’s metal U statue, scaling up her measurements and then using stakes and ropes to form an outline of a U on the Foote Green. She then used four cans of orange spray paint to trace the U’s outline. In all, the setup process, even with the help of a professional production company of riggers, took about four hours. When students started to arrive, they merely had to fall in place—on the left side of the U if they were clad in orange T-shirts, on the right if they wore green. And of course UM mascot Sebastian the Ibis showed up. No word yet from Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Thomas Friedman Challenges Students to Find Their ‘Unique Value Contribution’

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

Prior to his New Student Convocation address, Friedman answered questioned posed by student media.

Prior to his New Student Convocation address, Thomas Friedman answered questions posed by student media.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (August 21, 2014) – Most of them won’t graduate and start their careers for another four years, but the more than 400 University of Miami freshmen who packed the BankUnited Center Wednesday got some sage advice on what it will take to advance in the workforce that awaits: an ability to find their “unique value contribution.” Read the full story

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Reboot: Artist Transforms Tech into Art

By Meredith Camel
UM News


Miami artist Patricia Van Dalen transforms a motherboard into a piece of a mural that now hangs in the main office of the Center for Computational Science.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (August 21, 2014) —When Miami artist Patricia Van Dalen saw the motherboards, microprocessors, and heat sinks in storage at the University’s Center for Computational Science (CCS), she didn’t see an electronics graveyard.

“Instead I saw a ‘liveyard,’ with endless possibility,” she says.

The components are the remnants of CCS’s first IBM-built Pegasus supercomputer, disassembled in 2013 to make way for Pegasus 2, which is five times faster than its predecessor. Now the hardware enjoys a second life as part of Data Hall, an art installation that adds color and kinetic energy to CCS’s main office on the sixth floor of Gables One Tower.

Van Dalen’s recent works include Natural Intersections, a vast network of bright pink ribbons at The Kampong, and her homage to power grids and wires in High Voltage, an Art Basel satellite exhibit. Sawsan Khuri, CCS director of engagement and assistant research professor in the Department of Computer Science, recommended Van Dalen for a commissioned work at CCS after taking note of the artist’s approach to mapping connections in science and nature.

Data Hall was installed last week

Data Hall, which was installed last week, will be on long-term display on the sixth floor of Gables One Tower.

Data Hall begins on one wall and wraps around to the adjacent corridor, each motherboard a canvas for zigs and zags of blue, yellow, red, and green plastic lacings. Van Dalen built this color palette using only those hues found in the wires and data cables of Pegasus. Her goal was to infuse the boards with the lively spirit of data processing, reminding observers that these components once carried trillions of data per second on investigations of the human genome, cancer, engineering, music, climate, and more. Data Hall may seem like a mixed media sculpture, but for the artist it’s a mural.

“These are drawings,” Van Dalen explains. “It’s me painting without a brush—applying color and establishing a sense of balance with the direction of the lines. At one point they all seemed to have too much personality, like a screaming teenager. So I added white vertical and horizontal lines to create boundaries.”

Van Dalen will return to campus October 2 to speak on a panel with fellow artists Nela Ochoa and Xavier Cortada about how science inspires their art. The panel is part of Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, a scientific visualization exhibition of images that prompt discussion about the meaning of data and the art of info graphics, hosted at the University of Miami during the fall 2014 semester.

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The U’s Historic ‘Front Door’ Wins Three Preservation Awards

UM News

1300 Campo Sano now houses

Once the center of campus, 1300 Campo Sano now houses the Departments of Geography and Regional Studies, International Studies, and Political Science.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (August 21, 2014)—Once boarded up and riddled with leaks, mold, rot, and termite damage, the wooden building that served as the University’s first registration and administration center has won three major preservation awards that honor UM’s restoration of the structure’s 1947 appearance while modernizing it for 21st century use.

Known by its 1300 Campo Sano address, the two-story building long occupied by the College of Arts and Sciences has received the American Institute of Architects Florida/Caribbean Chapter’s Honor Award of Excellence for Historic Preservation, the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Restoration/Rehabilitation, and the Dade Heritage Trust’s Outstanding Restoration of a Historic Site Award.

“The building was the front door of campus, the beginning of the beginning of the modern university its founders dreamed it would be,” said noted historian and preservationist Arva Parks McCabe, a senior member of the UM Board of Trustees who wrote a book about Coral Gables and UM founder George Merrick.

Like the University’s own history, the destiny of the building that was home to the Department of Art and Art History for half a century was inextricably tied to the end of World War II, when millions of veterans seized the opportunity to attend college on the 1944 Servicemen’s Adjustment Act, or GI Bill. Almost overnight, the enrollment at UM, which was still in a temporary location on LeJeune Road to the north, nearly tripled to 5,800.

“It was an optimistic time in history,” Parks McCabe said. “We had won the war and all the GIs came back, and that is why the University of Miami became what it is.”

The heady times, though, created a quandary for UM’s first president, Bowman Ashe: How would UM accommodate the students who would flood the permanent campus?

Enter the U.S. Army, which donated the temporary wooden structures it had quickly erected for the war to universities. When the surplus buildings arrived on the UM campus by rail and in pieces, Ashe turned to South Florida architects Robert Law Weed and Marion Manley—the first woman architect in Miami and a pioneer in her field—to redesign them for the “avant-garde, international-style” they envisioned for Merrick’s “great university for a great city.”

“They integrated modernist elements: repeated large windows, a wide breezeway joining the building, and a very graphic design,” said Janet Gavarrete, associate vice president for campus planning.

The Office of the President, director of admission, and dean of the Graduate School would settle into the breezy, new space at 1300 Campo Sano, and every student would pass through it. By the late 1950s, administrators had moved on, and the art department moved in, turning the building into a hub of creativity for student artists—until 2000, when the aging structure was closed for safety.

About a decade later, the City of Coral Gables cited 1300 Campo Sano for historic preservation, and the University hired alumnus R.J. Heisenbottle, B.Arch. ’84, one of Miami’s best-known preservation architects—to preserve the building’s architecture but bring it up to modern codes and standards. It was a mammoth undertaking.

Extensive roof leaks had destroyed all of the interior finishes, and mold covered most surfaces. Termite damage and wood rot had left the structure so fragile that it had to be supported by metal braces. The mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and life safety systems no longer worked.

The contracting team from Turnkey Construction installed new impact-resistant windows and doors that matched the original ones, utilized salvaged wood for the flooring, and stripped and reinstalled the original siding. They also integrated new air-conditioning technology to minimize ductwork and allow individual temperature control in each room.

The results are remarkable. Today, 1300 Campo Sano is a peaceful yet dynamic, light-filled oasis for the Departments of Geography and Regional Studies, International Studies, and Political Science—and the winner of three awards for historic preservation.

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Make a Move: Professor’s Board Game Helps Young Immigrants Plot Their Futures

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

Lien Trans teaches counselors how to play the board game she created or the young, unaccompanied, and undocumented immigrants who are streaming into the United States.

Lien Tran shows counselors how to play the board game she created for the young, unaccompanied, and undocumented immigrants who are streaming into the United States.

MIAMI, Fla. (August 20, 2014)—Life in the United States for the thousands of young, unaccompanied, and undocumented immigrants who continue to arrive from Central America can be daunting. Many end up in detention centers where they must make legal decisions that will determine their future.

University of Miami School of Communication assistant professor Lien Tran has created a board game called Toma el Paso (Make a Move) to make their lives easier. It introduces them to the system for seeking approval to leave the shelter.  

Last Monday, Tran visited “His House Children’s Home” in Miami Gardens, where 166 children between 11 and 17 years of age reside, to train 20 resident counselors who work with the minors how to use the game.

“This is a good way to engage kids with complicated information,” said Tran. “You can play with the children at any time.”

Available in English and Spanish, the game was first introduced at the shelter in April as part of the Immigrant Children Affirmative Network (ICAN), a youth program developed by faculty and students in the School of Education and Human Development that has been used for seven years to promote resilience and hope among unaccompanied immigrant minors in South Florida. To date, dozens of the youngsters have played the game.

“Professor Tran has created a remarkable tool to help educate these youth and bring joy to their lives at the same time,” said Etiony Aldarondo, associate dean for research at the school and director of  ICAN. “Most of us would be overwhelmed if we had to deal with the complex legal and social challenges faced by unaccompanied immigrant minors in this country. This game turns the stress of figuring out the uncertain pathways that lie ahead for these kids into a fun opportunity to learn.”

The goal of the game, which up to six people can play at a time, is for participants to get out of the shelter, symbolized by reaching a yellow star. Tran developed the game with the help of an immigration lawyer in New York. The board resembles a juvenile detention facility with squares that players reach by rolling the dice. The squares represent a case manager, a lawyer, a phone, or the opportunity to get a specific card that provides information.

Meeting a case manager is one of the first goals.

“Let me meet with the case manager—that should be the name of the game,” said Israel, one of the counselors. “That’s what the kids want the most.”

Case managers are crucial because they help determine which of the three release options are open to the minors: reunification with a U.S. sponsor, federal foster care, or voluntary departure. Once players choose the option they intend to pursue, they are given color-coded cards with the requisites needed to achieve it.

For example, in order to be reunited with family members in the U.S., minors need proof of their sponsor’s relationship to them, fingerprints of the sponsor, and proof that the sponsor can financially support them.

The object is to collect enough cards to fill a submission packet and ultimately be released from the detention center.

The complexity of the legal process came as a surprise to Eddy, a 22-year-old FIU student who works with the detainees.

“This game helps us be more empathetic to their plight,” Eddy said. “We realize what they have to go through.”

Gina, a Haitian-American counselor who has worked with detainees for many years, said the game simplifies the legal process and can help minors cope with their situation.

“Many of the children are under a lot of stress,” she said. “Many come into this country escorted by strangers, and some are abused by these strangers. It is important for us to be vigilant to their needs and make sure they know that they are in a safe environment.”

More information on the game and how to order a copy is available at http://lienbtran.com/games/toma-el-paso/.

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