With Stellar Performances by Vendors, Police, and Parking, UM’s BankUnited Center Shines

BUCA week ago Saturday, the BankUnited Center held the last of 21 high school and non-UM college graduation ceremonies, wrapping up a breathtaking whirlwind of activity on campus that began with the confluence of two historic events. A live broadcast of the Billboard Latin Music Awards from the BUC and the renaming of the Student Activities Center for UM’s now-departed fifth president, Donna E. Shalala, brought thousands of visitors—and all of the parking, logistics, and traffic challenges that go with mass events—to campus on April 30.

Yet the Billboard broadcast, the Shalala celebration, and the myriad other events that followed over the next six weeks went off without a major hitch or complaint, prompting a note of heartfelt thanks from Lorenzo Muniz, general manager of the BankUnited Center.

“For the BankUnited Center to have thousands and thousands of individuals attending these events and not receive a single complaint is beyond outstanding!” Muniz wrote in singling out the GCA grounds and maintenance crews, the UM Police Department, and the Department of Parking and Transportation for special appreciation. “Our police have been wonderful and our parking superb!”

Larry Marbert, vice president for real estate and facilities, to whom Muniz sent his thanks, is in hearty agreement. “It was a great job, and I want to congratulate everyone for rising to the occasion,” Marbert said. “It does, however, underscore the need for further planning and coordination for the growing number of future events.”



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Chamber Salutes ‘JC’ del Valle for His Leadership

UM News

Juan Carlos 'JC' del Valle

Juan Carlos ‘JC’ del Valle

MIAMI, Fla. (June 5, 2015) —Juan Carlos “JC” del Valle, the University’s assistant vice president of Government and Community Relations, was honored for his significant contributions to the community last week by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, which recognized him for his leadership in government at its annual Salute to Miami’s Leaders awards luncheon.

Bestowed on alumni of the chamber’s Leadership Miami program, the awards recognize “community stars” who “make Miami a stronger, more vibrant community,” something del Valle has been devoted to his entire career. The immediate past chair of Leadership Miami, which prepares the next generation of Miami leaders to meet future challenges, he remains active with the chamber, serving on its board, as well as the boards of CareerSource Florida, the American Diabetes Association, uAspire, Florida Covering Kids and Families, and the One Community One Goal Steering Committee.

At UM, where he earned his Bachelor’s in Business Administration, del Valle oversees all University activities related to local government. He is also responsible for the community relations of several programs and for identifying new funding opportunities for the University via different government and business sectors.

Before joining UM in February 2008, as director of government affairs, del Valle was an assistant to the county manager of Miami-Dade County, where he was responsible for several key infrastructure departments. He started in Miami-Dade County as a senior policy analyst for former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, and then served as the assistant director of legislative affairs for former Mayor Carlos Alvarez.

Del Valle also holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Florida International University.

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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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Students Awarded Scholarships from The Villagers

Three University of Miami School of Architecture students–senior Daniel Clavijo, junior Jessica Stefanick, and sophomore Hitomi Maeno—have been awarded scholarships by The Villagers, a local group dedicated to restoration and preservation in the Greater Miami area.

Clavijo, a graduating senior who is receiving the award for the second time, said he was very grateful. “Preservation is important to me because we should leave nature, and the built environment, in a better state than we found it,” he said. Clavijo and Maeno each received a $4,000 scholarship and Stefanick received $3,000.

The Villagers recently awarded more than $20,000 for college scholarships to deserving students in Miami-Dade County with an interest in architectural historic preservation and restoration. Seven students were selected from the field of applicants based on scholastic standing, recommendations, and samples of their work as well as a statement of interest in preserving architectural past.

The Villagers, Inc., is a local non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration and preservation of historic sites in Greater Miami. The association originated with the efforts of a group of citizens who came together in 1966 to work to save the Douglas Entrance, one of George Merrick’s original public projects in Coral Gables. The Villagers has supported the University of Miami School of Architecture since 1985 and, to date, has given more than $142,100 to UM students.

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Junior Receives 2015 Newman Civic Fellows Award

UM News

Civic Scholar 2015 - 1

UM President Donna E. Shalala presents the 2015 Newman Civic Fellows Award to Natasha Koermer, with, at left, Andrew Wiemer, director of the Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development, and, at right, Robin Bachin, assistant provost for civic and community engagement.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 7, 2015)—Natasha Koermer, a biomedical engineering student who is minoring in public health and Spanish, has received the 2015 Newman Civic Fellows Award for her extraordinary leadership, civic engagement, and commitment to creating sustainable solutions to global engineering and health issues.

Koermer received the award, which the national organization Campus Compact bestows on the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders, from UM President Donna E. Shalala, who lauded Koermer for implementing numerous projects in the community, including a local urban sustainable gardening initiative, an outreach program to inspire high school students to pursue service-based careers in STEM disciplines, and the U’s first 5K Run/Walk for Water to raise awareness about the importance of clean water for all communities.

As if those accomplishments weren’t enough, Koermer is also president of the University’s student chapter of Engineers Without Borders, for which she led the fundraising for and the implementation of a $25,000 sewage system in Las Mercedes, Ecuador, and a research assistant at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, where she works closely with faculty to collect data for a study on intimate partner violence across Miami-Dade County. Her group’s research was selected for multiple conferences, including the Nursing Network on Violence Against Women International 2015 and Futures Without Violence.

“She is an incredibly bright, civically engaged student and will no doubt continue to bridge the gap between cutting-edge research and its practical application in solving real-world issues,” said Robin Bachin, assistant provost for civic and community engagement.

Offering her congratulations to Koermer in a ceremony in her office on April 28, Shalala was not surprised to learn the junior would not be resting over the break. She is headed to another service project for the summer, this time in South Africa’s Limpopo Province to assist in the Water, Society, and Health Research Experience for Undergraduates funded by the National Science Foundation.

Presented annually by Campus Compact, the Newman Civic Fellows Award honors inspiring student leaders who invest their time and energies in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country.

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