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In Memoriam

Family Matriarch Sue Miller Passes Away

sue-miller-may-2010-001Susan “Sue” Miller, the matriarch of a family whose business and philanthropic enterprise has left an indelible mark on South Florida and, in particular, improved medical care, student life, and the study of Judaism at the University of Miami, died Thursday after a battle with cancer. She was 81.

“Sue Miller was an inspirational force in our community,” said UM President Julio Frenk. “Her tireless and passionate advocacy for educational opportunities helped lift and shape young minds. Her legacy, in particular through the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, will endure in the many lives touched by her generosity. The University of Miami family mourns her loss, and our hearts go out to her children Stuart, Leslie, Jeffrey, and the entire Miller family.”

Flags on the University of Miami campuses were lowered to half-staff Thursday to honor the legacy of Sue Miller.

The widow of the late Leonard M. Miller, former chair of UM’s Board of Trustees who built a prominent homebuilding company with an investment of his own capital, Sue Miller had become the torch bearer of her family’s boundless generosity after her husband passed away in 2002.

At the 2004 ceremony where the Millers announced their landmark $100 million gift to UM’s medical school, it was Sue Miller, in a moving speech, who paid tribute to her husband, recognized the many physicians, caretakers, and researchers for their commitment to humanity and the value they place on life, and urged the youngest members of her family to continue its tradition of philanthropy.

“We in this family know that the measure of one’s success is not the wealth accumulated,” she said. “It has nothing to do with shrines erected, nor records broken; it is the inner strength we build each day through hard work, through integrity, and the respect for our fellow man.”

The landmark gift, which renamed the school in Leonard Miller’s honor and was the largest ever to the University at the time, transformed Florida’s oldest medical school, helping it to achieve unprecedented levels of excellence in clinical care, biomedical research, and medical education.

“It would be hard to overstate the impact Sue Miller had on this campus and in this community,” said Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., MACP, interim dean of the Miller School of Medicine. “She was a wonderful friend of the Miller School, as was Leonard, and we are forever grateful for their support. Their efforts will resound for generations to come through our students, as well as the thousands of patients who come to the University of Miami for care.”

Steven M. Altschuler, M.D., senior vice president for health affairs at the University of Miami and chief executive officer of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, described her as “a matriarch of her family.”

“Sue Miller provided a shining example of service and commitment to our community, and she instilled that into everyone around her,” Altschuler said. “She will be deeply missed.”

In 1998, Sue Miller and her husband donated $5 million to establish the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies. Located on the Coral Gables campus, it is the first academic and research center in the United States that focuses on the issues that have affected the Jewish people in the 20th century and the challenges they face in the future.

At the 2003 dedication ceremony for the center’s new home in UM’s Merrick Building, Sue Miller called the center a vital component of UM’s campus tapestry. “Students must be armed intellectually against the backdrop of Holocaust denial, racists, bigots, and neo-Nazis,” she said. “We must keep our young students informed so they can help build an uplifting society.”

Longtime South Florida residents, the Millers came to Miami in 1954 as newlyweds following Leonard Miller’s graduation from Harvard. Both had grown up in Massachusetts. Soon after the young couple arrived in Miami, Leonard invested $10,000 into a small construction company that ultimately became Lennar Corporation, one of the nation’s leading homebuilders and providers of residential financial services.

Over more than four decades, Sue and Leonard Miller built a distinctive style of philanthropy, inspiring many others to join them in making powerful commitments to improve the community. One of their most passionate causes was the South Florida Annenberg Challenge, now known as the Council for Educational Change, which works to raise the level of student achievement in public schools. Sue Miller served as a trustee of the council and chaired its Educational Advancement Committee.

A dedicated community advocate, she had always believed in fostering the spirit of giving, chairing the Miami Beach Community Campaign to benefit the United Way in her early days as a volunteer for the nonprofit charitable organization. Over time, she played an instrumental role in shaping the United Way of Miami-Dade’s leadership giving program. She was a founding member of the Tocqueville Society, established in 1991 to honor individuals who give $10,000 or more annually.

Sue Miller also founded United Way of Miami-Dade’s Women’s Leadership program, which has raised millions of dollars since its inception while mentoring young women as community leaders. Her work in the women’s leadership arena carried over to the national and international levels, as she once spearheaded and sponsored a leadership exchange between United Way of Miami-Dade and United Way of Jamaica. Her work on the education front, and specifically early education with United Way of Miami-Dade, took her to Washington, D.C. to advocate for increased funding for quality early education.

But it is Sue Miller and her family’s generosity toward UM that is arguably the hallmark of their philanthropic efforts. Among her family’s other notable gifts to the institution: In 2014, The Lennar Foundation, the Lennar Corporation’s charitable arm established by Sue Miller and her husband, gave a lead gift of $50 million to name The Lennar Foundation Medical Center, a state-of-the-art facility that brings the University of Miami Health System to UM’s Coral Gables campus. It will open in December.

The donation was one of the signature gifts of UM’s Momentum2 campaign. Last year, the Miller family propelled UM past the campaign’s $1.6 billion fundraising goal with a $55 million gift, the bulk of which—$50 million—is being used to build the new Miller School of Medicine Center for Medical Education. A ceremonial groundbreaking for the state-of-the-art facility was held earlier this year during a pre-inaugural ceremony for Frenk. During that event, her son, Stuart Miller, lauded his mother as a “primary driver of philanthropy” in his family.

“Both my mother and my father were extraordinary examples of how important it is to give, so a community can build,” he said.

The remaining $5 million of that $55 million gift was donated to the University’s Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music.

The Miller family’s generosity during the Momentum2 campaign also included a naming gift for the Braman Miller Center for Jewish Student Life for UM Hillel.

In all, Sue Miller and her family have given more than $200 million to the University, primarily to the Miller School of Medicine, the Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies, the School of Law, the Frost School of Music, and the Intercollegiate Athletics Program.

Sue Miller is survived by her three children—Stuart Miller (J.D. ’82), who followed in his father’s footsteps as chair of the UM Board of Trustees; Jeffrey Miller; and Leslie Miller Saiontz—11 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

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Award-Winning Abstract Painter Darby Bannard Passes Away

Darby Bannard

Darby Bannard was committed to color-based and expressionist abstraction for over six decades.

A leading figure in the development of color field painting in the late 1950s and an important American abstract painter, Walter Darby Bannard, professor and head of the painting program in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Art and Art History, passed away on October 2. He was 82.

“Darby’s contributions to the art world will be remembered by his peers, collectors, and critics, and most importantly, by the hundreds of students whom he inspired by his work, his teaching, and his mentoring,” said Perri Lee Roberts, art history professor and chair of the Department of Art and Art History.

During his undergraduate years at Princeton University, Bannard joined fellow students, the painter Frank Stella, and the critic and art historian Michael Fried in conversations that expanded aesthetic definitions and led to an emphasis on opticality as the defining feature of pictorial art.

Bannard continued to explore attributes of color, paint, and surface through innovative methods, striving throughout his career for vital and original expressive means. He was also an important writer on formalist issues in art, serving as an editor for Artforum and a contributor to Art International. His extensive publications date from the 1960s to the present. He joined the University of Miami faculty in 1989 to become chair of the art department.

Bannard was born in 1934 in New Haven, Connecticut. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy and in 1956 graduated from Princeton University. Bannard, who made drawings and watercolors throughout his youth, was self-taught as a painter. He derived inspiration for his earliest paintings from the art of William Baziotes, Theodoros Stamos, and Clyfford Still. In a 2015 interview with UM alumnus Franklin Einspruch for Artcritical.com, Bannard states, “That’s how it is with abstract painting, it just takes you over. I remember looking at one of these little intellectual magazines when I was 16 and I saw a de Kooning painting, and thought, ‘Wow, that’s really cool.’” By the late 1950s, he abandoned the sensitivity inherent in the expressionistic style, instead creating austere minimal paintings characterized by large areas of contrasting color.

In the next decade, he was one of the first artists to blend artist’s materials with commercially produced tinted alkyd resin house paints in a search for greater color options. In a 2015 Artforum review of his second solo exhibition at Berry Campbell, Phyllis Tuchman discusses these early paintings: “The bands, circles, and rectangles tend to be shiny and reflect light, while the other parts of these canvases are covered with matte paint. Bannard mixed pinks and beiges as well as light blues and greens with lots of white. These colors are still radiant. And the artist’s pale palette is as uniquely personal today as it was 50 years ago. You can’t even apply a name to his hues.”

In 1964, Bannard was included in the landmark exhibition Post-Painterly Abstraction, organized by Clement Greenberg and held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His first solo exhibitions were in 1965, at Kasim Gallery, London; Richard Feigen Gallery, Chicago; and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York. He was also included that year in the Museum of Modern Art’s “The Responsive Eye.” In 1968, Bannard received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and a National Foundation of the Arts Award.

Around 1970, Bannard’s focus shifted to an exploration of the liquid quality of paint. Drawn to the new acrylic media that was becoming available, he began working on the floor using thick gel surfaces and color suspended in magna or polymer. At the time, he “thought of color as a liquid, flowing over and settling on a roughened surface, changing as it mixed and dried.” His method involved stapling his canvases to slightly raised wooden platforms. After tightly sizing his canvases, he scraped on colored gel with squeegee-like tools. When the surface was dry, he poured colored polymer over it in layers, allowing the paint to find its place. He was drawn at the time to close-valued rather than strong colors and often allowed his pale warm grounds to serve as colors in their own right rather than acting as supports for other colors.

Stated Karen Wilkin in Color as Field (2007): “Bannard probed just how subtle chromatic nuances could be before they became unbroken expanse. In these pictures, even composition could be reduced to a kind of near-negative, an echo of something no longer there.” In the late 1970s, Bannard was instrumental in the retrospective exhibition of the work of Hans Hofmann. He curated the 1976-77 exhibition and wrote the catalogue that accompanied it.

During a painting workshop in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1981, Bannard developed a kind of gel “drawing” on canvas, in which he applied his paint on large sheets of fiberglass. By the middle of the decade, he had returned to a slower, more subtle system of marking his gel, while also returning to pouring colored polymer. He also reincorporated expressionist methods in his art. In 1987, he began his “brush and cut” paintings, consisting of large scale canvases in which he applied transparent tinted gel with large street brooms and industrial floor squeegees to make painted “drawings” featuring vigorous brushwork and three-dimensional illusions. After moving to Miami, he incorporated more color into his large paintings, while producing small mixed-media landscapes on paper, inspired by the flat land and water and the lowering sun of the Florida Everglades.

Recently, Bannard increased the intensity and juxtoposition of color. The more neutral backgrounds of the past have shifted to all-over color. The surfaces of the paintings are flat and three-dimensional all at once: hot pink and fluorescent green geometric shapes appear to float above and protrude from the flat canvas. These circles reference earlier days, but added now are hard-edge trapezoids. Flat areas of color are spiked by splatters of sparkly gels and raised areas of large sweeping brush-work creating a dance across the surface.  Methods and techniques from earlier paintings are combined and used in unison in these dynamic compositions.  In 2015 and 2016, Bannard continued to paint with increase vigor creating large-scale paintings up to thirteen feet wide.

Throughout his career, Bannard moved between the poles of expressionism and color field painting, resulting in a body of art that constantly evolved as the artist forthrightly faced the situations that his art presented, reacting to them with rigor and intuition.

In 1983, Bannard held an Invitational Residency at the National Endowment for the Arts.  In addition to his position at the University of Miami, he taught at many art schools, including the School of Visual Art, New York. Over the course of his career, Bannard had almost 100 solo exhibitions and had been included in an even greater number of group shows. In 2016, noted art historian Barbara Rose curated a major exhibition for Roberto Polo Gallery in Brussels, Belgium, entitled, Post-Painterly Abstraction: Belgium-USA, featuring paintings by 16 U.S. and Belgian artists including Bannard, Ed Moses, and Larry Poons.

Bannard is represented in public collections across the country as well as abroad.  A selection of his museum collections include Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio; Baltimore Museum, Maryland; Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas, Austin; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Cleveland Museum, Ohio; Dallas Museum of Fine Art, Texas; Dayton Art Institute, Ohio; Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta, Canada; Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Honolulu Museum, Hawaii; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana; Kenyon College Art Gallery, Ohio; Larry Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut; Lowe Art Museum, Coral Gables, Florida; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Victoria, Australia; New Jersey State Museum, Trenton; Newark Museum, New Jersey; Portland Art Museum, Oregon; Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey; Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, New York; the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

 

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Robert L. Blake Passes Away

Robert. L. Blake

Robert. L. Blake

Robert L. Blake, who served as vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the University of Miami under two presidents, passed away on August 10, leaving an indelible impact on the University and the community.

Blake, who served at the University from 1994 to 2006, under the administrations of Edward T. “Tad” Foote  and Donna E. Shalala, worked on many far-reaching projects  for the greater good of both UM and the community. He reached common ground with our Coral Gables neighbors, leading to the construction and opening of the University Village, an on-campus student apartment project that dramatically changed student residential life.

Along with the late Ken Myers, a life member of the Board of Trustees, Blake drafted the Florida statute and Miami-Dade County ordinance authorizing the referendum to levy a sales tax to benefit the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital. That tax still enables UM/Jackson to deliver the same standard of care to all patients. regardless of their ability to pay.

Prior to joining the UM family, Blake distinguished himself through his outstanding service in the public sector, serving as division chief in the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office and as general counsel to the Public Health Trust. He also helped educate our community’s future leaders by teaching at Barry University and Miami-Dade Community College.

Family and friends are invited to a visitation on Monday, August 15, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Mount Hermon AME Church, 17800 N.W. 25 Avenue, Miami Gardens, Florida, 33056. The service will follow on Tuesday, August 16, at 11 a.m., also at Mount Hermon AME Church. The church’s telephone number is 305-621-5067.

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Tad Foote Remembered with Stories, Songs, and Love

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

Foote Memorial 2

From left, Elijah Shaw, President Foote’s nephew; sons William Fulbright Foote and Edward “Thad” Thaddeus Foote III; and nephew Nathan Tolliver-Shaw perform a musical tribute to President Foote.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 27, 2016)—It was a simple wave of the hand that made a then-8-year-old Edward “Thad” Thaddeus Foote III “feel good.”

Amid all the pomp and circumstance of his father’s inauguration as the University of Miami’s fourth president in 1981, “he found me in the crowd, made eye contact with me, and flashed me a little wave,” recalled Foote III. “It made me feel important and comfortable. It made me feel good.”

With stories, aphorisms, and music, the younger Foote, along with his older brother and sister, honored his late father, Edward Thaddeus “Tad” Foote II, who served as UM president from 1981 to 2001, on Tuesday at a memorial service held at Gusman Concert Hall on the Coral Gables campus.

“He cared deeply about making the world a better place,” said William Fulbright Foote. His father, he noted, was an accomplished folk singer and musician who was once offered a contract by RCA Records but turned it down, and used to transcribe old recordings of cowboy songs while he was a newspaper reporter. His life, he said, was filled with music right up until the end.

Foote passed away on February 15. He was 78.

“Music didn’t make the man. Dad loved making the music,” said William, occasionally singing verses from some of his father’s favorite songs.

In honor of Foote, the two sons, along with nephews Elijah Shaw and Nathan Tolliver-Shaw, performed “Angel Band.”

Julia Foote LeStage, Foote’s daughter, spoke lovingly of her father from a family perspective, noting that he raised her with the same standards he held for himself. “He always made me feel special,” she said.

Foote also never failed to acknowledge how important his wife, Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote, who passed away last May, was to him. “His steady counselor” is how he often referred to her, said LeStage.

LeStage told the audience of more than 400 people that when a then-3-year-old Foote lost his own father, his mother told him he was the man of the house. “He wore the mantle of responsibility for the next 75 years of his life,” and that was evident in Foote’s ability to step up and lead in difficult times, said LeStage.

As UM’s fourth president, Foote significantly raised the academic and research stature of the school, spearheaded a capital fundraising campaign that was the second largest in the history of American higher education at the time, and instituted a series of other reforms that ranged from improved facilities to new academic programs.

“He set the bar high when it came to guiding this University with both authority and grace, always keeping the development and enrichment of our students as his top priority,” said current UM President Julio Frenk.

Foote’s first cousin, Adlai Hardin, said UM’s former president was “no stranger to complex and difficult tasks,” noting that in 1969 as an attorney in St. Louis, Missouri, Foote helped found the New City School, a private elementary school with a diverse student body.

Foote had an uncanny ability to speak off the cuff, Hardin said, recalling that the “remarkable man” he knew since they were little boys delivered, without any preparation, the keynote address at the eighth grade graduation ceremony for Hardin’s son.

Hardin also recalled Foote’s wit and sense of humor. In the summer of 1954, while traveling from Wyoming to Wisconsin in Foote’s Dodge coupe, the two decided to take shelter in an abandoned Nebraska farmhouse until a storm passed. As the storm raged outside, Hardin fell asleep but was suddenly jolted from his slumber by a loud noise. Foote had hurled one of his boots against the farmhouse wall—a practical joke that Hardin, he said laughingly, would eventually recover from. He was a “great friend and confidant of my entire lifetime. There was none better,” said Hardin.

UM Trustee Charles E. Cobb, Jr. said being a “leader of change” was one of the key qualities members of the then-search committee for the University’s fourth president wanted in a new presidential candidate, “and we certainly found that in Tad Foote.” Cobb, who served on that committee, noted Foote’s decision to decrease the student body and raise admission standards—a policy trustees were a bit reluctant to accept at first. But over time, Cobb said, that decision was the right one, as the average SAT score of incoming freshmen rose from 1072 to 1202 by the end of Foote’s administration.

Cobb also called Foote an “extraordinary leader in the broader community,” noting that he tackled Miami’s drug and crime problems head-on by creating the Miami Coalition for a Safe and Drug-Free Community, a broad-based task force that approached the community’s drug problems from every conceivable angle, such as establishing treatment programs, destroying crack houses, securing federal funding to strengthen law enforcement, and creating drug-free school zones.

A 10-minute video tribute, produced by UM’s Division of University Communications, provided the audience with further insight into the type of man Foote was.

“He was the No. 1 Hurricane,” Cyrus “Russ” Jollivette, who served as executive assistant to the president and vice president for government relations under Foote, said in the video tribute.

He was “ethical, hardworking, super smart, and always wanted UM to get better,” said Pat Whitely, who became vice president for student affairs during Foote’s administration.

“Distinguished” and “noble” is how former School of Architecture Dean Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk described Foote.

Former UM Provost Luis Glaser; former Senior Vice President for Business and Finance David Lieberman; Senior Trustees Ronald “Ron” Stone and David R. Weaver; former Athletic Director Sam Jankovich, and former Faculty Senate Chairs Eugene Clasby and George Alexandrakis are among others who appear in the video tribute.

In delivering a prayer at the end of Tuesday’s memorial service, Foote’s sister, Letitia Shields, said her brother was “guided by what he believed was right and moral, and through it all never sought glory for himself.”

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President Foote’s Memorial to Be Streamed Live

FooteThe University of Miami will hold a memorial service to honor its fourth president, Edward Thaddeus “Tad” Foote II, at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26, at Gusman Concert Hall on the Coral Gables campus.

As its fourth president, Foote significantly raised the academic and research stature of the University, spearheaded a capital fundraising campaign that was the second largest in the history of American higher education at the time, and instituted a series of other reforms that ranged from improved facilities to new academic programs.

During his tenure from 1981 to 2001, the University added three new schools—the School of Architecture, School of Communication, and the Graduate School of International Studies. He transformed the University’s residence halls into residential colleges modeled after those at Oxford, Cambridge, and Yale. He made research a top priority and focused attention on strategic interdisciplinary initiatives.

Foote passed away on February 15 at age 78.

RSVPs are required to attend the memorial service at Gusman Hall, 1314 Miller Road. Email eventsmanagement@miami.edu or call 305-284-2875. The memorial alos will be streamed live. To watch visit UM livestream.

UM established the Foote Fellows Honors Program, a scholarship initiative for highly motivated students who enter the University with advanced knowledge in several disciplines and demonstrate intellectual rigor and interest in a broad-based curriculum.

To find more information and to make memorial donations, visit the Foote Fellows Program or send to the Foote Fellows program, University of Miami Division of University Advancement, P.O. Box 025388, Coral Gables, Florida 33102-9811.

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