The Wizard of College Baseball Returns Home

Ron Fraser's grandchildren unveil the statue of the legendary coach that that will forever stand in front of Mark Light Stadium.

Ron Fraser’s grandchildren unveil the statue of the legendary coach that will forever stand in front of Mark Light Stadium.

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 26, 2015) — Ron Fraser, the University of Miami’s legendary baseball coach, is back where he belongs—standing outside Mark Light Stadium, bat slung over his shoulder and a twinkle in his eye, welcoming fans to the game he helped elevate to the national stage.

Immortalized in bronze, his stunningly life-like statue was dedicated Friday, in a ceremony attended by his family, many former players and Sugarcanes bat girls, and scores of fans. Designed and sculpted by Zenos Frudakis, the statue was funded primarily by friends and fans of the late coach, who led the Hurricanes from 1963-1992. In those 30 years, he won two national championships, went to 20 straight postseasons, and never had a losing season.

But his legacy extended far beyond the score board. A father figure to a legion of young men, his mastery of promoting and marketing college baseball helped develop the sport into a major player in college athletics and Mark Light Stadium into one of South Florida’s premier family entertainment spots.

“His genius at building a buzz filled this stadium to the rafters,” said UM President Donna E. Shalala of the man widely known as the Wizard of College Baseball. “He helped forge respect for college baseball at a national and even international level.”

Speaking in behalf of the Fraser family, Fraser’s daughter Cynthia, said, “The Light has always been a huge part of our life. We are so excited to see Poppy here at the gate greeting the fans today and all the fans to come.”

More than a hundred of Fraser’s ballplayers went on to professional baseball and many more started successful careers. He was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame’s introductory Class of 2006.

“Coach Fraser was not only the most influential person in college baseball history, but also the most influential in my own professional career,” head baseball coach Jim Morris said. “Having a statue in front of our park, honoring all that he did both on the field and off, is going to be something special for his family, our program, and for our fans.”

Rick Remmert, the former assistant athletic director who is now UM’s director of alumni, said Fraser is back where he belongs. “This is his ballpark, you’d think he’d be here, and now he is. People can now say, ‘Meet me at the Frase.’

View a video of the ceremony.

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Faculty Senate Honors ‘Change Agents’ at Annual Awards Ceremony

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

From left, Jay Skyler, Mary E. McKay, and René Sacasas.

From left, Jay S. Skyler, Mary E. McKay, and René Sacasas.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 15, 2015) – René Sacasas was a curious eight-year-old the first time he ever set foot on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus. That was 60 years ago, and Sacasas’ family had come to get a close-up look at the school to which his older sister had just been accepted. Read the full story

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Graduate School Honors Students, Faculty, and Staff

Graduate students from the College of Engineering join M. Brian Blake, (second from right) vice provost of academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, as he presents the College of Engineering's Nurcin Celick with the 2014-2015 Faculty Mentor of the Year Award.

Graduate students from the College of Engineering join M. Brian Blake, (second from right) vice provost of academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, as he presents the College of Engineering’s Nurcin Celik with the 2014-2015 Faculty Mentor of the Year Award.

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 14, 2015)— The Graduate School recognized its top graduate students, faculty, and staff at the 2014-2015 Graduate Awards Ceremony, including the Miller School’s Sandra Lemmon as the Outstanding Graduate Program Director and the College of Engineering’s Nurcin Celik as Faculty Mentor of the Year.

Noting that the ceremony, held April 10 on the Moss Terrace at the Student Activities Center, allows the UM community to celebrate the work of all of its graduate students, faculty, and staff, M. Brian Blake, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, congratulated all of the 60-plus nominees “for their accomplishments that continually enhance graduate education at the University.”

In addition to Lemmon, professor of molecular and cellular pharmacology and director of the M.D./Ph.D. Program, and Celik, assistant professor of industrial engineering, seven other individuals from multiple disciplines and all three campuses were honored in the categories of Graduate Student Exemplar, Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant, and Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant. They are:

Qinghua Yang, School of Communication
Outstanding Research Assistant

Aristotelis E. Thanos, College of Engineering
Outstanding Research Assistant

Youaraj Uprety, College of Arts and Sciences
Outstanding Teaching Assistant

Patrice E. Fenton, School of Education and Human Development
Outstanding Teaching Assistant

Alisa Be, College of Arts and Sciences
Outstanding Teaching Assistant

Xiaoran Shi, College of Engineering
Graduate Student Exemplar

Raul Velarde, College of Engineering
Graduate Student Exemplar

View more pictures from the ceremony on Facebook.


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Students Earn Distinguished National Awards and Fellowships

By Melissa Peerless
Special to UM News


Nicolas Rongione, who conducted aerospace engineering research in Germany, participates in the Q&A portion of the Prestigious Awards and Fellowships Reception and Recognition Ceremony.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 16, 2015) — “Finding the right fellowship is like finding true love. You don’t have to be perfect, just perfect for each other.”

Kefryn Reese, director of the Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships, shared these amusing but accurate words last week with more than 150 students, faculty, and alumni at UM’s annual Prestigious Awards and Fellowships Reception and Recognition Ceremony.

William Scott Green, senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, encouraged students to find their strengths and passions, and take advantage of opportunities to enhance their educational experiences.

“It is fine to be modest, but there is nothing wrong with pursuing academic excellence,” he said, adding that participating “enhances the quality of UM, enhances the quality of your life, and enhances the quality of other people’s lives.”

More than 30 UM students have received or been nominated for nationally competitive scholarships so far this year, proving the truth in Green’s statement.

College of Arts & Sciences junior Eric Keen has been named a 2015 Goldwater Scholar, one of only 260 recipients nationwide.

The Goldwater program aims to provide a steady source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding tuition and fees scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in STEM fields.

Keen focuses on viruses that attack bacteria, and how these organisms—called phages—affect bacterial DNA. For his experiment, Keen collected phages at 30 locations around campus, and introduced them to drug-resistant E. coli bacteria.

His goal is to see if the phages destroy structures within the E. coli DNA called plasmids, which cause the bacteria to resist antibiotics.

“People have known about plasmids since the 1950s, but this is the first time that anyone is examining which phages affect them and how,” Keen said, adding that his work has environmental and medical applications.

Jim Klaus, associate professor of geological science in the College of Arts and Sciences, said, “Eric has demonstrated a true commitment to pursuing a research career in microbial ecology. The motivation that drives this commitment is his genuine fascination with the natural microbial world, and the desire to use microbes to make the world a safe, cleaner, and healthier place.”

Other UM students have received Fulbright scholarships to travel to Argentina, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, and Spain; National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships to support research projects; and a National Institutes of Health Oxford Cambridge Fellowship to pursue a doctoral degree in biomedical research.

Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering Helena Solo-Gabriele received the Award for Distinguished Faculty Service.

Passion and persistence were common themes among the six distinguished alumni and students who discussed how their fellowship experiences shaped their lives and careers.

Natalie Cain spent a year in Ecuador through the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange. Now a first-year M.D./M.P.H. student at UM’s Miller School of Medicine, Cain studied the insect-borne Chagas disease in Ecuador’s coastal region. She encouraged students to “latch on to a mentor,” and recognized Senior Lecturer of International Studies Sherri Porcelain, who continues to guide her today.

Dina Dajani, a 2013 Goldwater Scholarship recipient, discovered her passion for research early in her college career. “I jumped right in in my first year,” she said. Dajani is now a doctoral student in the College of Arts and Sciences’ behavioral neuroscience program, where she is doing research on autism.

Xinning Shirley Liu studied in China through the Boren and Fulbright programs. Liu, who was born in a small village in China and moved to Miami at age nine, picked a personal topic for her Fulbright application. “I was deeply concerned about the impacts of China’s transition from an agrarian to an industrial society,” she said, adding, “Be really persistent, even if it is a very obscure topic.”

Nicolas Rongione, an actor-turned-scholar who conducted aerospace engineering research in Germany, called living and learning abroad “a challenge mentally, physically and financially.” He said, “You will learn to navigate it, and it will make you a better person.”

Kristina Rosales Kostrukova flew in from São Paulo, where she is a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. She received a Boren Scholarship, a Pickering Fellowship and a Fulbright, allowing her an opportunity to spend significant time in Brazil as a student. She urged, “Envision where the fellowship will take you.”

Frost School of Music lecturer Cliff Sutton received a Fulbright to Uruguay, where he intensively studied Candombe, an Afro-Uruguayan drum music tradition he discovered while a student at UM. “I was supposed to have a semester-long experience and it ended up taking over my life,” Sutton said adding that he uses Candombe methods to teach his classes. Sutton and his Candombe performance group presented three songs to end the event on a lively note.

The Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships helps undergraduate students maximize their candidacies for nationally competitive awards, fellowships and scholarships – providing information about opportunities, and guidance through the application process. For more information, please click here.

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School of Law’s JoNel Newman Receives Award

JoNel Newman

JoNel Newman

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – UM School of Law’s JoNel Newman, professor of clinical education and director of the Health Rights Clinic, has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education’s M. Shanara Gilbert Award.

Newman will be presented the award on May 5 at the Conference on Clinical Legal Education in Rancho Mirage, California.

The M. Shanara Gilbert Award honors an “emerging clinician” with ten or fewer years of experience who has:
– a commitment to teaching and achieving social justice, particularly in the areas of race and the criminal justice system
– a passion for providing legal services and access to justice to individuals and groups most in need
– service to the cause of clinical legal education or to the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education
– an interest in international clinical legal education
– an interest in the beauty of nature (desirable, but not required)

Newman is committed to social justice, creative pedagogical approaches, and to serving marginalized communities in the Miami area and beyond, and her initiatives have focused on the Haitian diaspora, veterans’ rights, pediatric care, and more.

One nominator wrote of the significant contributions of the Health Rights Clinic, noting that students “have served over two thousand vulnerable health-impaired clients …. and have secured over $2 million in entitlements and public benefits for their clients.”

Newman’s students wrote that she “embodies the qualities sought in the recipient of the Shanara Gilbert Award” and her colleagues at Miami Law noted her “extraordinary efforts and contributions to clinical legal education, service, and justice.”


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