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In Memoriam

Lester Goran, a Bright Light That Shone on Many Writers, Dies at Age 85

Lester Goran inspired scores of writers over his 50-plus years at UM.

Lester Goran inspired scores of writers over his 50-plus years at UM.

Melissa Peerless
Special to UM News

Coral Gables, Fla. (February 7, 2014) – Lester Goran, a talented writer, inspirational teacher, and founder of the Creative Writing Program in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami, passed away on February 6. He was 85.

During a career at the college that spanned more than a half century, Goran helped more than 20,000 students find their voices and tell their stories.

Former students recall his use of zany phrases (such as “Throw a cat out the window!”) to inspire them to look for surprises in their work. They remember a fantastic storyteller who was quick to both praise and criticize their work, as needed. Many say that, without his guidance, they would not be writers today.

Goran joined the Arts and Sciences faculty in 1960, and helped to establish the first creative writing curriculum at UM in 1965. He was also instrumental in establishing the Master of Fine Arts program in 1991.

“Lester Goran was a writer who practiced his craft to the end,” said M. Evelina Galang, director of the Creative Writing Program. “In doing so, he was a master who, by example, lecture, and encouragement, ushered several important writers into this world—among them Terrence Cheng, Chantel Acevedo, Michelle Richmond, Paul Perry, and Crissa-Jean Chappell. He was a bright light who made the University of Miami’s Creative Writing Program what it is today.”

Throughout his long and illustrious teaching career, Goran wrote prolifically, penning eight novels, a memoir, and three short story collections. Many of his works are set in Pittsburgh, where he grew up in a tough neighborhood before earning both B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Pittsburgh.

In a 2010 interview, Goran said he was drawn to writing to explain his life. “I couldn’t understand myself unless I partially fictionalized myself into a drama. Produced, directed, and written by myself,” he said, adding that he loved teaching and “dealing with many young people who are on the edge of self-discovery.”

“A great University is built on a strong faculty, and Lester Goran is a shining example of our excellent team in the College of Arts and Sciences,” Dean Leonidas G. Bachas said. “We are all very proud of the Creative Writing Program, which Lester started. He has enlightened our community for 50 years, and his legacy will continue to live on in our students and their writings.”

During the 2010-11 academic year, the Creative Writing Program organized the Goran Reading Series in honor of his 50 years of service. Four prominent writers who had studied with Goran offered public readings, master classes, and community workshops. The program also established the Lester Goran Endowed Creative Writing Fellowship to offer emerging writers the opportunity to create.

 

 

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School of Communication Staffer and Talented Visual Artist Mupalia ‘Mupi’ Wakhisi Passes Away

Mupalia WakhisiA memorial service celebrating the life of Mupalia “Mupi” Wakhisi, a help desk technician at the University of Miami’s School of Communication, was held January 25 in Storer Auditorium.

Mupalia, of Cutler Bay, died in his sleep January 19 at the age of 30. He is survived by his parents, Tsitsi, an associate professor of professional practice at the School of Communication, and Francis Wakhisi; brothers Kofi and Wanakhavi; and sister Naliaka. Read the full story

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UM Trustee Victor E. Clarke’s Passion for Music Endures

Whenever Victor E. Clarke would meet with University of Miami Frost School of Music Dean Shelton “Shelly” Berg, he would talk about his fascination with music technology.

“Victor was always curious about technology,” said Berg, “and I think that’s what drew him to music. He was somewhat of an amateur music technology buff.”

Clarke, a UM trustee who grew his father’s Coral Gables-based engineering firm into a worldwide leader in custom-made avionics control panels and audio systems, and donated funds to build a UM music recital hall that bears his name, passed away on November 27. He was 81.

“Innovative and inquisitive” is how Berg described Clarke, who earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering from Cornell University. “Even when he was in poor health, Victor stayed very up on what was going on at the music school,” recalled the dean. “I last saw him about a month ago, and we met for about an hour. We just had the greatest conversation, and he was still very excited about what we were doing.”

A lifelong resident of Miami who graduated from Coral Gables High School, Clarke followed the philanthropic example set by his parents, Victor P. and Charlotte H. Clarke, who gave to many causes. Clarke’s gift to UM’s music school named the Victor E. Clarke Recital Hall, a 120-seat venue dedicated in April 1994 that continues to play a critical role in the Frost School’s mission, serving as an ideal setting for solo performances and smaller concerts that wouldn’t be held in the larger Gusman Concert Hall.

With the Frost School now in the midst of a major expansion phase that includes a new music studios building, 200-seat performance hall, and an experiential learning center, Clarke Recital Hall will be retrofitted with high-tech sound and lighting features to accommodate electronic classical music.

Among the other projects made possible by Clarke’s generosity are the Victor E. Clarke Pavilion at Baptist Hospital in Kendall, the Baptist Cardiovascular Institute, and the Victor E. Clarke Education Center at South Miami Hospital.

Born on March 13, 1932, in Miami, Clarke served his country as an officer in the United States Air Force during the 1950s. Shortly after graduating from Cornell in 1956, he joined his father’s avionics firm, Gables Engineering, later succeeding the elder Clarke at the helm as chairman, CEO, and principal owner.

Clarke was appointed a University of Miami trustee in 1982, and an emeritus trustee in 2000. He served on the Academic Affairs, Athletic Advisory, Finance and Audit, Student Affairs, Master Planning and Construction, and Development Affairs committees. He also chaired the visiting committees of the College of Engineering and Frost School of Music, and was a member of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science Visiting Committee.

He was a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and in recognition of his contributions to engineering, Clarke was inducted into Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society, in January 1986.

Clarke is survived by his daughters, Charlotte “Anne” Clarke and Patricia “Lynn” Clarke Cogan; granddaughters Erin, Colleen, Kerry, Kelly, Mary-Bridget, and Meghan-Ann; and five great-grandchildren, Luke, Hannah, Gabrielle, Ryan and Natalie.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to a charity of your choice.

 

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UM Mourns Passing of Longtime Trustee Nicholas A. “Nick” Crane

Crane was elected to the UM Board of Trustees in 1986 and provided major support to a variety of University initiatives.

Crane was elected to the UM Board of Trustees in 1986 and provided major support to a variety of University initiatives.

The University of Miami family mourns the loss of loyal Miami Hurricane and longtime UM trustee Nicolas A. “Nick” Crane. A two-time graduate (B.B.A. ’51 and J.D. ’53), Crane was a devoted father and grandfather, a successful businessman, and a caring community leader.

“Nick Crane was thoughtful, smart, and just plain nice. He never gave up on his community or his beloved ’Canes. He will be missed,” said University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala. Read the full story

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Memorial Service for Physics Professor Josef “Yossi” Ashkenazi

A memorial service for the late Josef “Yossi” Ashkenazi, a professor of physics in the University of Miami’s College of Arts and Sciences, will be held  Friday, November 30 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the James L. Knight Physics Building, Physics Library, third floor. Faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend.

Ashkenazi, who passed away on October 3, was a faculty member in the Department of Physics for nearly 24 years. A condensed matter theorist, Ashkenazi was an active researcher, publishing a range of work on superconductivity throughout his career.

For more information on Ashkenazi’s work and life, please click here.

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