With Feathers and Beak, This Hat Speaks Engagement and Appreciation

By Michael R. Malone
UM News


From left are Campaign and Donor Relations team members Darlene E. Gonzalez, Emily Wilson, Barbara Gonzalez, Hildee Wilson, and Ivette Mancha, who found the hat on ebay.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (January 30, 2018)—When Ivette Mancha, events director for University Advancement, spotted the vintage Hurricanes’ Ibis hat—big droopy eyes, protruding orange beak and all—on eBay, she knew right away her team would love the idea. Mancha and colleague Hildee Wilson had been tasked with advancing the Campaign and Donor Relations team’s “one action” to better recognize and appreciate team players, and the quirky feathered hat was a sure winner.

“We knew we’d have some fun with it—it was so ‘Cane spirited—and the hat was in great condition,” Mancha remembered. Five of the donor team’s members—including Mancha herself—have since donned the hat as proud winners of what has become the team’s Ibis Recognition Award.

The award stems back to the Gallup faculty and staff engagement survey conducted in 2016. President Julio Frenk announced a summary of those results in a University message on February 16, 2017. While the University engagement level was “higher-than-average” and employees gave a high favorability rating and reported a “sense of purpose, clarity around goals and expectations,” the survey encouraged that University workplace culture be further improved by expanding collaboration and learning, welcoming feedback, and building better connections.

Individuals and departments collectively were tasked to create one action based on the survey results.

Samantha Dietz, executive director of programs in the Office of Institutional Culture, helped facilitate the donor team’s retreat last spring. “We were trained as ‘engagement champions’ and asked to help the teams interpret their results from the survey,” explained Dietz, who helped the team identify the area that would best support a stronger Culture of Belonging. “The conversation focused on the process of growing and developing together—improving engagement—which contributes everything to team success and achievement.”

“As a team we scored well on the survey, yet because we’re always on the move, always planning the next event, we realized that one of the things we sometimes fail to do as much as we want is to recognize each other,” said Darlene Rebello-Rao, assistant vice president for Campaign and Donor Relations. “Our team is held to a high level of excellence, and that can get stressful. Yet we know that together we can get it done—and we don’t want to take that for granted.”

The Ibis Recognition Award didn’t cost a lot of money, and the team has enjoyed the opportunity to experience and appreciate each other in a new, fun way. It has served in a light-hearted way to promote shared culture and values, while advancing the team’s mission to support philanthropy at the University through stewardship, events, development communications, and campaign planning.

To date, Emily Wilson, Darlene Gonzalez, Barbara Gonzalez, and Mancha have all been recognized with the award. Another awardee will be named soon to wear the long-beaked peak performance hat.

Wilson, the inaugural Ibis Recognition winner, suggested it would add to the fun to document the Ibis’ activities as it travels desk to desk. So the team began filling a photo album—Ibis with the turn-over chain, bundled up on a chilly day, sipping a macchiato, on holiday, on game day—wherever the “champion” takes it.

What’s clear is that wherever the Ibis goes with someone on the Campaign and Donor Relations team, the hat helps to lift everyone’s wings just a bit and to encourage team appreciation and classic ’Cane spirit.



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Knight Foundation Champions Bring Art to Life

UM News

Frost School Dean Shelly Berg, at the piano, performed with outstanding Frost School students at the December 4 awards gala.

The University’s MusicReach program, Lowe Art Museum, and Flaming Classics film series are all beneficiaries of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s 2017 challenge grants and arts champions—thanks to Frost School Dean Shelly Berg, Miami-based artist Sebastian Spreng, and the manager of the Bill Cosford Cinema, Trae DeLellis.

Berg and Spreng are among the 25 arts and civic leaders the Knight Foundation honored as Knights Arts Champions this month for their vision, courage and tenacity in building Miami’s cultural community. As part of the recognition, each champion receives $10,000 to contribute to an artist or organization of their choice. Berg chose the Frost School’s Donna E. Shalala MusicReach Program, which pairs underprivileged school children and teens with music mentors, while Spreng chose the Lowe, which is planning to exhibit his Sebastian Spreng: The Dresden Files next year.

DeLellis and Flaming Classics co-creator Juan Barquin, a film critic and co-editor of Dim the House Lights, were awarded a $25,000 Knight Arts Challenge grant for their curated film series that pairs classic films from the queer canon with live performances from local drag artists. Under the requirements of the grant, they must find matching funds to continue building community, entertaining, and educating with their project.

The Knight Foundation established the Knight Arts Challenge Miami 10 years ago to enable Miamians to bring their artistic ideas to life. This year’s 43 winners, who hail from an array of backgrounds and disciplines across South Florida, will share a total of $2.5 million for projects aimed at making art general in Miami—allowing it to be seen, felt and heard throughout the city’s many neighborhoods.

DeLellis, who is a graduate student in the School of Communication, said he and Barquin are ecstatic that such a prestigious organization identified drag as a legitimate art form worthy of its investment.

“Over the last 10 years, the Knight Arts Challenge has palpably changed the cultural landscape of the city, and it’s an immense honor to now be a part of that narrative,” DeLellis said.

Berg, who performed with a combination of outstanding Frost School jazz students at the December 4 event where the awards were announced, called the Knight Foundation the true arts champion. “Over the last decade they have identified, nurtured and helped to sustain the viability of a great many deserving artists and arts organizations in Miami and elsewhere. During that time, the Frost School’s success has been substantially fueled by the generosity of the Knight Foundation,” he said.

A longtime admirer of Spreng’s, Jill Deupi, director of the Lowe, said she looks forward to featuring the Argentine-born visual artist and music journalist’s haunting mediations on the destruction of the iconic German city of Dresden during World War II next year.

“Created using cutting-edge digital technology, these evocative and captivating images bridge the present and past, and remind us of humanity’s power to both create and destroy,” she said.

And building bridges, Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen said, is what the winners of the 10th anniversary Knight Arts Challenge are all about. “They embody what the arts do: they inspire and create common experiences that connect us to each other and to home, Miami,” he said.

View a full list of the winning ideas and the arts champions.

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ACCelerating UM Creativity and Innovation

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 30, 2017)—With dozens of national championships in multiple sports, members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, including the University of Miami, are known for their athletic prowess. But like UM, ACC institutions are also leaders in creative exploration and research occurring at the nexus of science, engineering, arts, and design, a fact that the first “ACCelerate: ACC Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival’’ will highlight this month.

ACCeerate-LogoTaking over all three floors of the west wing of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., October 13-15, ACCelerate will showcase 15 dramatic and musical student performances and 47 interdisciplinary projects developed by the ACC’s 15 universities to address a host of global challenges.

Chosen by an ACC steering committee and through a peer-review process, the projects include three from UM: the Rehabilitative Lower-Limb Orthopedic Analysis Device (ReLOAD), which uses music to help amputees and others regain or correct their disrupted walking patterns; the Echo Earth Experience, an immersive game that employs virtual reality to enable players to simulate how different species use echolocation to survive; and Digital Mapping of Informal Settlements, which combines drone-based aerial photography and computational methods to document communities that are literally off the map.

For the performances, the Frost School of Music Jazz Band and Jazz Voice Department were selected to perform two tributes to Ella Fitzgerald, commemorating the legendary vocalist’s 100th birthday. Presented in partnership with the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation, the concerts also coincide with the Smithsonian’s recently opened Ella Fitzgerald Exhibit.

The Frost School’s Lab Top Ensemble, comprised of Contemporary Media students who create dynamic electronic music via laptops and other electronic controllers, also were invited to perform at a private reception for the festival.

“This unique event will be a wonderful opportunity for us to exhibit the skills and talents that make UM unique,” William Green, senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, said. “We are grateful to the Frost School of Music, the School of Architecture, the School of Communication, the Center for Computational Science, and the Department of Physical Therapy for their participation in this distinctive event.”

More than a year in the making, the first-of-its kind festival will precede the annual meeting of the ACC Academic Consortium, the academic arm of the ACC, from which the idea germinated. At his first ACC meeting as Virginia Tech’s new provost and executive vice president, Thanassis Rikakis proposed the festival, which is being presented by Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

“The ACCelerate festival is perfectly aligned with the ACC’s vision of being at the forefront in educational achievement and innovation,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “I applaud this outstanding initiative that showcases the incredible work taking place at our 15 member institutions.”

Free and open to the public, the festival’s installations, performances, and talks center around six broad themes: Civic Engagement, Arts and Technology, Sustainability and Environment, Biomimetics, Health and Body, and Making and Advanced Manufacturing.

Part of the Health and Body section, the ReLOAD installation showcases the collaborative work of researchers, students, and clinicians in UM’s Departments of Physical Therapy, Music Engineering, Athletics, and the Miami VA Hospital. Together, they developed a patent-pending device that captures and analyzes the walking patterns of a people who are recovering from a lower-limb injury or amputation, and corrects their gait with bio-feedback and music.

Part of the Biomimetic section, the Echo Earth Experience will feature the virtual reality game that School of Communication students helped develop for Samsung Gear VR. Wearing the virtual reality goggles, players transform into a beluga whale and try their hand at navigating and foraging by using echolocation. Once they master listening to find food, players advance into the next level—avoiding threats.

Part of the Civic Engagement section, the Digital Mapping of Informal Settlements showcases the work of the School of Architecture and the Center for Computational Science, which teamed up to map Las Flores, a sprawling slum outside Barranquilla, Colombia, that was not on any map, or on the minds of community decision makers, and to document historic structures in Nassau, Bahamas using drone-based aerial photography and computational methods.

For more information, visit acceleratefestival.com.





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Recognition for Beautifying the City Beautiful

The Lennar Foundation Medical Center and University of Miami Hillel’s home at the Braman Miller Center for Jewish Student Life were among the outstanding commercial projects recognized by the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce’s City Beautiful Awards.

The lobby of The Lennar Foundation medical Center brings the outside in.

The lobby of The Lennar Foundation Medical Center brings the outside in.

With its open, airy, light-filled lobby complete with soaring ibises, The Lennar Center was recognized for its outstanding interior, while UM Hillel, which underwent a major expansion to provide an inviting space for all students and the community to study, pray, eat, and spend time with friends, received the award for outstanding restoration.

The 200,000-square foot ambulatory care center, which opened on Ponce de Leon Boulevard last December, was made possible by a $50 million gift from the family of Leonard M. Miller, the namesake of the medical school.

The Braman Miller Center expansion on Stanford Drive was made possible through another generous gift from the Miller family and from another of Miami’s most philanthropic families, the Bramans, along with Hillel International.

The City Beautiful Awards, which celebrate the unique architecture and outstanding aesthetic found among Coral Gables’ businesses, “serve to strengthen our community through the recognition and celebration of our city’s top businesses,” Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli said.

Also honored this year were 8/18 Fine Men’s Salons on Miracle Mile, for it outstanding visual merchandising, and Zucca Miami, the new restaurant in the Hotel St. Michel on Alcazar Avenue, for its interior dining space.

This year’s judges included Dona Spain, Coral Gables’ historic preservation officer; Ahmed Alvarez, principal at Zyscovich Architects; and Robert Chisolm, chairman of the board at R.E. Chisholm Architects, Inc.

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The U’s Green Achievements Earn a Silver STARS

UM News

CORAL GABLES, FLA. (July 20, 2017) –The University of Miami has earned a STARS silver rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

The STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) rating is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance and encourage sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

UM’s rating comes as a result of the University’s dedication to engaging students, faculty and staff in various sustainability programs and policies, according to Teddy Lhoutellier, UM’s sustainability manager. The UM community’s collective efforts have led to improved energy conservation, waste diversion and public engagement.

“We can define sustainability in a pluralistic and inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for all generations,” Lhoutellier said. ”STARS attempts to translate this broad view of sustainability to measurable objectives at the campus level. Thus, we are very proud to have achieved a silver rating. It will help us build our new Sustainability Action Plan for our next application in 2019.”

Among the University’s most significant achievements was the 2015 debut of the Patricia Louise Frost Music Studios, the first higher education building in the region to achieve LEED Platinum certification. With a 70 KW solar system, electro-chromatic windows and a rainwater harvesting system for irrigating the landscape and flushing the toilets, the Frost Studios serve as a benchmark and illustrate the University’s commitment to environmental responsibility in all areas of construction.

With more than 800 participants on six continents, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in four overall areas: academics; engagement; operations; and planning and administration.

The University of Miami’s STARS report can be viewed on the STARS website.


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