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Family, Friends Gather to Celebrate the Life of Roberta “Bosey” Foote, UM’s Former First Lady

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

Bosey Foote Celebration of Life

At last Friday’s memorial service, members of the Foote family perform a musical tribute to Roberta “Bosey” Foote.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 29, 2015) – When Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote arrived at the University of Miami in 1981 as the wife of the school’s newly appointed president, Edward “Tad” Foote II, she knew instantly that something needed to be done to beautify the school’s Coral Gables campus.

Back then, Memorial Drive was what UM Board of Trustees member Charles E. “Chuck” Cobb described as a “sea of asphalt,” an expansive area for faculty parking that Mrs. Foote wanted to replace with green space. But doing so wouldn’t be easy. Her husband knew that eliminating those parking spaces would quite probably upset some of the faculty. Yet Mrs. Foote persisted, and the asphalt eventually met its end, giving way to the lush plant life that was part of a campus beautification program spearheaded by the University’s first lady.

Last Friday, with the Coral Gables campus in full bloom, family, friends, and members of the University community paid tribute to the woman who made it her mission to turn the school’s grounds into a “campus in a tropical garden.”

“She wasn’t a horticulturalist, but she had an innate ability to know what worked and looked right,” Thaddeus Foote said at the Celebration of Life for his mother, “Bosey” Foote,” who died of complications from cancer on May 5 at the age of 76. “Thirty-five years later, this campus sings with beauty.”

More than 150 people, including President Emeritus Foote, attended the memorial service, gathering under a tent on what is now fittingly called the Foote University Green to listen to and share stories about the Arkansas-born mother, grandmother, and wife who had always believed in making spaces beautiful.

Noting that she volunteered at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Thaddeus Foote, who took a teaching job at the Coral Gables-based garden, described his mother as “elegant, even while sweating with pruning shears on the side of Old Cutler Road. I can’t tell you how grateful a son I am,” he said, holding back tears. He held up a mango, noting that it was one of “Bosey” Foote’s favorite fruits, and he encouraged everyone to take with them one of the Captiva Island seashells from her collection, which was displayed on a table at the memorial service.

Another son, William Foote, said his mother was “altruistic” and “cared deeply about making the world a better place.” She supported efforts such the Miami Coalition for a Safe and Drug-Free Community, which her husband founded in 1988, and long ago, she became a volunteer for the Frontier Nursing Service, helping to deliver health care to residents in rural communities in the Appalachian Mountains.

It should have come as no surprise that she wanted to help others, William Foote noted. Born Roberta Waugh Fulbright, she was the daughter of the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, the prominent American statesman who initiated the international exchange program for scholars known as the Fulbright scholarship.

Music performed by the two sons and other Foote family members moved many of those in attendance, including Lynden B. Miller, who first met “Bosey” Foote 67 years ago when the two were in the fifth grade in Washington, D.C. Miller called her longtime friend “the sister of my heart.”

“We shared everything,” even the belief in using plants to improve public spaces, said Miller. “We talked on the telephone for hours…We were in each others weddings…We finished each others sentences,” she recalled. In the early 1970s, when Bosey Foote moved to St. Louis, where her husband became dean of the law school at Washington University, the two friends didn’t see much of each other. “But there was always the telephone,” said Miller. “I only wish there was a phone I could call her on now.”

 

 

 

Posted in Briefly Noted, In Memoriam, NewsComments (0)

Hillel Honors President Shalala for Tearing Down ‘Walls of Ignorance’

From left are  Jeffrey Miller, Hillel at UM Capital Campaign co-chair, President Shalala, Sidney Pertnoy, and Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO, Hillel International.

From left are Jeffrey Miller, Hillel at UM Capital Campaign co-chair, President Shalala, Sidney Pertnoy, and Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO, Hillel International.

In one of her last acts as UM president, Donna E. Shalala, who ardently supported University of Miami Hillel through her 14-year tenure, accepted Hillel International’s Maimonides Award last week. As Jeffrey Miller, who was joined by brother Stuart Miller, chair of the UM Board of Trustees, and sister Leslie Miller Saiontz, told Shalala at the organization’s annual Renaissance Gala in New York City, “Tonight’s honor is simply an exclamation point for your tireless efforts to welcome diversity and tear down the walls of ignorance. By heartfully supporting Hillel, you helped open up the eyes and hearts of both Jewish and non-Jewish kids.”

Hillel International established the Maimonides Award, named for the preeminent Jewish philosopher, astronomer, scholar and physician, last year to recognize a university leader whose dedication to higher education has promoted a deep commitment to Jewish and secular learning and devotion to the community.

“In addition to being a tremendous friend of the Jewish community and University of Miami Hillel, President Shalala has established a path of excellence for the University of Miami in the arenas of higher education, research, and health care,” said Sidney Pertnoy, chair of Hillel International.

UM Hillel’s new home on the Coral Gables campus, the Braman Miller Center for Jewish Student Life, is currently under construction and scheduled to open this fall. Jeffrey Miller is co-chair of the Hillel at UM Capital Campaign.

 

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Feminist Scholar and Liberal Arts Champion Passes Away

Shari (Benstock) Gabrielson Goodmann copy

Shari Gabrielson Goodmann. Photo by Fritz Senn.

Shari Gabrielson Goodmann, a longtime University of Miami faculty member and champion of liberal arts who was widely known for her feminist scholarship and literary biography as Shari Benstock, passed away on May 26 from complications related to early-onset dementia. She was 70.

A faculty member at the University of Miami from 1986 to 2006, Gabrielson Goodmann founded the program in Women’s and Gender Studies and served as chair of the English Department and associate dean for faculty affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences. Read the full story

Posted in Briefly Noted, In MemoriamComments (0)

University of Miami Names New Vice President and Treasurer

Jeffrey Kirles

Geoffrey Kirles

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 28, 2015)—The University of Miami has named Geoffrey Kirles as vice president and treasurer, effective June 1. In his new post, Kirles will be responsible for treasury and business services functions, including investments, debt and cash management, auxiliaries, risk management, and environmental health and safety.

Kirles was previously an executive director with J.P. Morgan’s Investment Bank, which included stints in its investment banking coverage and on international banking teams. During his 16-year career with J.P. Morgan, Kirles focused primarily on investment banking debt, capital markets, and leveraged finance, and he advised clients on capital structure solutions, deal structuring, and execution of syndicated revolving credit facilities, institutional term loans, and bond issuances.

“Geoff brings to the University a deep understanding of capital markets and the creativity that comes from experiences with a wide variety of industries,” said Joe Natoli, senior vice president for business and finance and CFO. “He will lead our efforts to invest University assets, including endowment and pension funds, develop financing strategies, and manage auxiliaries like the BankUnited Center and on-campus retail in ways that support the University’s mission to transform lives through teaching, research, and service.”

Kirles earned his M.B.A. in finance, accounting, strategic management, and entrepreneurship from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a B.A. in finance from Michigan State University. He and his wife, Dawn, a CPA, reside on Miami Beach.

 

Posted in Appointments, Briefly Noted, NewsComments (0)

Construction Begins on University Center Bridge; Portions of Lot 452 to Close

Lot 452Construction for the new University Center Bridge across Lake Osceola is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, May 26. As a result, portions of Lot 452 will be closed through October 15. Users of the lot should avoid barricaded areas. For more information, contact Facilities Design and Construction’s senior project manager, Ivette Goicouria, at icarcas@miami.edu.

 

 

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