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Legendary ’Cane Receives Fond Farewell with Tropical Flair

By Meredith Camel
UM News

Norm Parsons showed his characteristic humility, grace, and warmth at his retirement party.

Norm Parsons showed his characteristic humility, grace, and warmth at his retirement party.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 18, 2004)—Looking dapper in his tuxedo with ’Canes-themed bow tie and cummerbund, Norman C. Parsons, Jr. greeted each person who attended his retirement party on Wednesday, September 17, the same way he greeted people over the past 43 years—with a genuine smile and warm handshake, followed by “How are YOU,” his hands forming the U.

Transformed into a tropical paradise, the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center’s second-floor basketball gymnasium held hundreds of ’Canes who gathered to honor the man they call “Mr. P.,” “Mr. Wellness,” or “Hey Norm!” The guest list was a veritable who’s who of UM history, including President Emeritus Edward “Tad” Foote II, former Provost Luis Glaser, and the man who first hired Parsons as intramural director—former Vice President for Student Affairs William “Bill” Butler.

Also in the crowd were Terry Williams Munz, B.B.A. ’77, recipient of the nation’s first female athletic scholarship, granted in 1973 by then-golf coach, Mr. P., as well as a tapestry of Iron Arrow jackets. Parsons, who initially refused to accept an Iron Arrow invitation until women were invited to join, later served as the honor society’s advisor from 1995 to 2009.

A steel drum band played in the background while faculty, staff, alumni, and friends enjoyed refreshments, reverie, and a five-hole putt-putt challenge. Just outside the pop-up oasis, guests who recorded a personal video tribute received a raffle ticket to win a Norm Parsons bobble-head doll—its hands positioned, of course, in a U. Several speakers shared reasons why Parsons is one of the most beloved Hurricanes of all time.

“Norm has been here longer than most of the buildings on campus,” said Sergio Gonzalez, senior vice president for University Advancement and External Affairs. “Norm, you’re a transformational leader, an icon to thousands of students. You’ve touched the lives of so many people that the world is a better place because of you.”

President Donna E. Shalala called Parsons an “extraordinary citizen of our community” and thanked him for keeping us healthy.

It was Parsons, in fact, who introduced the term wellness to the UM community in the late 1980s and made sure that everyone knew—and lived by—his motto: “You get an education at the University of Miami, but you get a life at the Herbert Wellness Center.”

Patti, B.B.A. ’57, and Allan Herbert, B.B.A. ’55, M.B.A. ’58, recounted how Parsons’ friendship and leadership garnered their support for the center that bears their name, as well as the Love Bridge at the center’s entrance, which is dedicated to those who fell in love at the U. The Herbert Wellness Center staff announced that the annual intramural golf tournament is henceforth named the “Norman C. Parsons, Jr. Intramural Golf Scramble.”

In his characteristic humility and grace, Parsons gave credit to his staff and many others for their dedication and teamwork over the years. He introduced new Executive Director of Wellness and Recreation Scott Levin and encouraged everyone to fill out their “Hey Scott” cards.

Parsons noted that the U also played an important role in finding his true love, wife Linda McDonald, M.Ed. ’78. She was a golf coach at Broward Community College while he was coaching the Lady ’Canes golf team, and they met on the competition circuit. As he teared up, Parsons told a Hawaiian shirt-clad Sebastian to deliver a bouquet of flowers to his “best golf partner.”

And to Bill Butler, he said, “Thank you for hiring me in 1972. You took a hell of a chance on me, and I hope it paid off.”

 

 

 

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UM Receives CASE Award for Superior Fundraising Program

UM News

Sergio M. Gonzalez

Sergio M. Gonzalez

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (August 27, 2014)—The University of Miami has received a 2014 CASE Educational Fundraising Award, an honor the Council for Advancement and Support of Education bestows on educational institutions with superior fundraising programs. In selecting UM for an Overall Performance Award in the private research institution category, judges analyzed three years of fundraising data and numerous indicators of a mature, well-balanced program, including the breadth and growth of UM’s base of support.

“CASE’s recognition is a testament to the dedication of many people—starting with our president, Donna E. Shalala, and her entire administrative team, and including our amazing staff, volunteers, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty and students, and, of course, our loyal donors,” said Sergio M. Gonzalez, senior vice president for University Advancement and External Affairs. “I am so grateful that our supporters know the value of investing in UM and believe in furthering its progress and impact. Together, we are building one of the world’s greatest research institutions.”

UM, which launched Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami in 2008, has raised $1.3 billion of its $1.6 billion goal from more than 140,000 individuals.

An international association of more than 3,600 educational institutions, CASE serves nearly 74,000 advancement professionals in 82 countries.

 

 

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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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Toppel Career Center Executive Director Awarded Fulbright

UM News

Christian Garcia

Christian Garcia

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 25, 2014)—Christian Garcia, the executive director of the Patricia and Harold Toppel Career Center, has received a Fulbright Scholar Program Award to participate in the US-Germany International Education Administrators Program. He will head to Germany in October for a two-week seminar designed to familiarize U.S. higher education administrators with Germany’s higher education system, society, and culture.

Garcia is among only 20 recipients of the Fulbright German study program, which is open to full-time college administrators who have significant involvement with international exchanges, alumni affairs, fundraising, or career services. He has plenty of experience with the latter. Joining the career center as associate director in 2001, he helped transform the center into one of the nation’s most innovative and dynamic, most recently spearheading its expansion and move to a new high-tech home on Ponce de Leon Boulevard.

He also serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that connects college career services and recruiting professionals interested in the employment of college graduates.

On his Fulbright, Garcia will spend the first week in Berlin, attending briefings and government meetings and visiting campuses and cultural events. During the second week, he’ll travel with a smaller group to other German cities.

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the longtime chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who had a profound influence on America’s foreign policy. His vision for mutual understanding shaped the prestigious exchange program that bears his name.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, it operates in over 155 countries worldwide and awards approximately 8,000 grants annually, but just a few hundred to teachers and professionals. U.S. and foreign students and scholars receive the overwhelming majority.

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Medical Student and Former Navy Pilot Named UM’s First Tillman Military Scholar

Special to UM News

MIAMI, Fla. (June 24, 2014) —William Burns, a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot who is entering his fourth year as a medical student, has been named the University of Miami’s first Tillman Military Scholar. The $15,000 award is given by the Pat Tillman Foundation to active-duty service members, veterans and military spouses who are pursuing higher education, and who wish to continue to be of service to others.

“Many would think twice about going back to school later in life for a second career,” said Burns, 40, a lieutenant commander who has been in the Navy for nearly 20 years. “Instead, I see it as an opportunity to continue my service to others through healing. I believe my operational experience will give me a unique perspective in the Navy Medical Corps, and I am excited about the future.”

Burns is the first UM applicant ever selected for the honor, and the only applicant out of seven from UM selected this year. The Pat Tillman Foundation — named for the Arizona Cardinals star who left a successful professional football career in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to enlist in the U.S. Army, and who was killed in Afghanistan two years later — selected a total of 60 scholarship recipients from 7,500 applications received nationwide.

“This is a tremendous honor for Will and the school,” said Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education and associate professor of medicine. “I cannot think of a student better suited for this award. Will is a class act who represents the fine qualities that the late Pat Tillman displayed.”

The Pat Tillman Foundation agreed.

“William stood out for his desire to not only continue his service at home, but also to leverage his military leadership skills in a new field — medicine,” said Cara Campbell, the foundation’s program manager. “Nearly a quarter of Tillman Military Scholars have similarly gone on to pursue their education in medicine. We’re proud to support him in that endeavor.”

Burns will meet his fellow Tillman Military Scholars at the fifth annual Pat Tillman Leadership Summit, which is being held June 26-29 at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

He became a pilot after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1995, in part because he originally hoped to be an astronaut. Although that never happened, his career has been filled with plenty of Earth-bound excitement. Over the next 16 years, he was deployed to the Mediterranean, to Kosovo, and twice to Iraq and three times to Afghanistan to provide close air support in his F/A-18C Hornet to ground troops in the thick of the action.

Ultimately, however, it was the quieter times during stateside duty that led Burns to medicine.

“I had thought about becoming a physician while I was at Annapolis, but aviation won out,” he said. “I’m not big at sitting behind a desk, so I looked for something else to do in between deployments. When I was stationed with theVFA-25 squadron in California in 2008, I became a volunteer EMT. Later, while working at the Pentagon, I became a volunteer firefighter/EMT for Fairfax County, Virginia. In 2010, I began applying to medical schools.”

In some ways, Burns’ gradual shift into medicine was predestined. Growing up in Tulsa, Okla., he had medical-military role models right at home. His mother was a nurse anesthetist, and his stepfather was a family physician — both had served in the U.S. Army Reserve — and his father had been a U.S. Army Special Forces medic in Vietnam.

Burns is a lifelong Hurricanes fan with a strong interest in international medicine, so the Miller School was also a natural choice. Since he arrived, he has distinguished himself through his leadership — he has been president of his class three years running — and through his commitment to service — he becomes the new executive director of the Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Department of Community Service program, known as DOCS, in the fall.

He has also volunteered his time and expertise through Medical Students in Action (in the Dominican Republic) and Project Medishare through Caneshare (in Haiti), as a Step 1 Review Course teacher and anatomy teaching assistant, and as a volunteer counselor during Heart Week at Camp Boggy Creek, which serves seriously ill children and their families.

Burns will owe the Navy four years of active duty service after he graduates, and unlike most of his classmates, he will be matching with a residency at a military medical center. If he pursues emergency medicine, his options will be Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, in Virginia, or Naval Medical Center San Diego, in California. If he pursues his other interest, trauma surgery, a third option will be Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

“I am committed to service,” said Burns, “but I also am always seeking new challenges. I look forward to a career in medicine because it will fulfill both of those goals.”

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