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Fernandez and Ronda Honored for Embodying Public School Success

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Rudy Fernandez and Barbara Ronda

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 11, 2017) — Two University of Miami leaders—Rudy Fernandez, vice president for government and community relations and chief of staff to President Julio Frenk, and Barbara Ronda, associate vice president and chief administrative officer for the University of Miami Health System—were among the high-achieving graduates of Miami-Dade County Public Schools honored last week by The Education Fund.

Fernandez and Ronda, both 1991 graduates of Southwest High School, and 23 other community and business leaders received the Sapoznik Insurance Public School Alumni Achievement Awards at the fund’s annual For the Love of Art charity auction at the Miami Airport Convention Center on May 10 for embodying the success of a public school education.

The Education Fund, a nonprofit, works with the private sector to support and promote quality public education in Miami-Dade’s public schools by providing teachers and students with resources they need to be successful. Each year, the organization honors distinguished alumni who have made an impact on Miami-Dade County, which Fernandez and Ronda  have—and which their early leadership roles portended. Back in 1991, he was Southwest’s student government president and she its senior class president.

Today, Fernandez, who also serves on the boards of the United Way of Miami-Dade, the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, is a member of the third class of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a national leadership development initiative that draws upon the resources of three U.S. presidential centers.

Prior to joining UM in 2007, Fernandez served as special assistant to the president in the George W. Bush White House and held senior positions in the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Bush-Cheney 2004 Campaign, and the Republican National Committee.

In addition to her duties at UM, Ronda serves on the board of directors of the Health Foundation of South Florida, which promotes health and disease prevention in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. She also was selected last year for the inaugural class of the Carol Emmott Fellowship, a cutting-edge program that accelerates the leadership capacity and impact of women leaders in health care.

Ronda, who joined UM in 2013, previously served as assistant vice president for strategic operations and business development at the  International Medicine Institute and as director of strategic operations and business development for managed care.

Prior to joining UM, she held several positions in the Jackson Health System and at Miami Children’s Hospital.

 

 

 

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Josh Brandfon Elected to NACA Board

UM News

Josh-Brandfon

Josh Brandfon

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 11, 2017)—Joshua R. Brandfon, director of Student Activities, Student Organizations, and Student Center Complex programs at the University of Miami, has been elected to the board of directors of the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) by the organization’s members. Earlier this year, the national organization dedicated to promoting student learning through engagement in campus life, awarded Brandfon one of its top achievement awards, the NACA Legacy Award.

At UM, Brandfon has helped create a climate that promotes and encourages student involvement and engagement. He also helps oversee the implementation of major university events, including distinguished guest lectures and dignitary visits, and serves as the primary administrator responsible for the management of more than 750 student organization accounts.

Brandfon, who began his relationship with NACA as a member of the Northeast Region Showcase Selection Committee, was a 2006 recipient of a NACA Educational Foundation McCullough Graduate Student Scholarship. Since then, he’s won many NACA awards for his leadership and service: the Outstanding Service Award in 2007, the NACA South C. Shaw Smith Founders Award in 2010, the Outstanding Service Citation in 2012, and this year’s NACA Legacy Award.

Over the years, he has chaired both the South Regional Conference Program Committee and the National Convention Program Committee. More recently, he served on the NACA Research and Scholarship Group, the Strategic Plan Task Force, and the inaugural cohort for NACA LEAP (Leadership and Effectiveness in Association Practices).

“With over ten years of experience with NACA’s various positions, Josh’s extensive knowledge of our association will serve us well as we begin the execution of a new strategic plan,” said Toby Cummings, NACA’s executive director. “Josh is a favorite presenter at our conferences and has been published in Campus Activities Programming magazine. He will be a wonderful addition to the leadership team.”

Brandfon received his B.A. in politics and economics from Brandeis University and his M.A. in educational leadership from the University of Connecticut. He anticipates completing his doctor of education from the University of Miami in 2018.

Established in 1960, NACA is the recognized leader in higher education for providing members with knowledge, ideas, and resources to promote student learning through engagement in campus life. NACA offers a variety of events, educational institutes, publications and networking opportunities for colleges and universities across the country. The association’s programs focus on program planning, risk management, multicultural education, concert management, student and professional leadership development, student government and more. For more information visit www.naca.org.

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UM Named One of America’s Best Employers by Forbes

Independent survey reflects employee pride

Forbes-Best-EmployerCORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 10, 2017) —The University of Miami is ranked No. 15 on the 2017 Forbes list of America’s Best Employers—the highest-ranked University in the nation and the highest-ranked organization in Florida. This is the first time UM has been included on the list, which is based on independent surveys of employees.

“We are proud and honored to receive this recognition,” said Nerissa Morris, vice president for human resources. “We work hard to foster a culture where employees are able to grow, feel valued, and contribute to our missions. Knowing our employees recommend the University as a place to work is a powerful statement. Today, we feel the strength of the UM spirit and sense of community across the University.”

Released Tuesday, May 9, the Forbes rankings recognize the nation’s top 500 large employers and the 300 best mid-sized employers.

To compile the rankings, Forbes partnered with Statista, an online statistics provider, to conduct an independent survey of more than 30,000 employees across 23 industries. Participation in the survey was voluntary, and respondents were recruited from thousands of sources to maximize reach and representation.

Participants, who were contacted anonymously online—not through their employer—were asked their willingness to recommend their employer on a scale from 0 to 10. The scores were then analyzed, involving highly selective criteria, which determined the University of Miami to be one of America’s best.

View the full list at Forbes America’s Best Employers.

 

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Recognition for ‘White Sand Black Beach’

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Greg Bush and Florida’s first lady, Ann Scott, at the Florida Book Awards ceremony.

Greg Bush, an associate professor of history, has won a prestigious silver Florida Book Award for non-fiction for his book about a pivotal struggle in Miami’s civil rights history, White Sand Black Beach: Civil Rights, Public Space and Miami’s Virginia Key.

Bush, who was honored with other winning authors from across the state in Tallahassee last month, said he never imagined his life would be consumed largely by “what I learned from our history as I became an advocate (and organizer) trying to preserve and enhance the public spaces along Miami’s waterfront.”

In White Sand Black Beach, Bush chronicles the unique story of Miami-Dade County’s “black” beach, the current state of Miami’s public waterfront, and the potential to stimulate civic engagement. As he notes, environmentalists, community leaders, and civil rights activists have come together recently to revitalize Virginia Key, which was begrudgingly designated as a beach for African-Americans in 1945 after activists protested Jim Crow-era laws that denied blacks access to the recreational waterfront.

The beach became a vitally important gathering spot for African-American families and represented a tangible victory in the continuing struggle for civil rights in public spaces. But, as white leaders responded to desegregation by decreasing attention to and funding for public spaces in general, the beach was largely ignored and eventually shut down.

Bush was one of more than 200 writers to compete for the awards, which recognize, honor, and celebrate the best books about Florida published in the previous year. The competition is coordinated by the Florida State University Libraries with assistance from across the state.

For more information on the full list of winners, visit the Florida Book Awards

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Arboretum Director Receives Inaugural Bosey Foote Award

Stephen D. Pearson, Director of UM’s Gifford Arboretum, Receives Inaugural ‘Bosey’ Foote Prize

Deserae E. del Campo
Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 21, 2017) – When Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote came to the University of Miami in 1981, the institution’s Coral Gables campus could be described as a large swath of concrete and cement. But Foote, the spouse of UM’s fourth president, Edward T. “Tad” Foote II, changed all that, spearheading an effort to beautify the campus with palms, cycads, and other plant life and becoming an ardent supporter of UM’s John C. Gifford Arboretum, a collection of rare plants and trees maintained for educational and research purposes.

Though she passed away two years ago, her legacy lives on—in the leaves, blades of grass, and flowers that bloom on UM’s campus and in the name of a new award that honors her memory.

Last Friday, as part of the University’s Earth Day activities, Stephen D. Pearson, director of the Gifford Arboretum, accepted the inaugural Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote Prize for Natural Campus Beautification at UM. “I am so happy to receive this honor,” said Pearson, a retired attorney and passionate plant lover who is now in his fifth year as director of the arboretum, which, he said, is rightfully “getting the recognition it deserves.”

Nestled behind the Knight Physics Building, the arboretum is a peaceful oasis that is home to a diverse collection of more than 450 trees and other plants—the perfect place to meditate, be one with nature, and disconnect from the constant campus buzz.

“It is a wonderful place with a collection of plants and trees perfect for research opportunities within the community and the University. It truly is a beautiful treasure,” Pearson said at the awards ceremony, held on the University Center Lakeside Patio prior to UM’s Hug the Lake event.

“For many years, Steve has been a dynamic and passionate advocate for the arboretum,” said UM President Julio Frenk, who presented Pearson with the award. “Congratulations, Steve, for this well-deserved honor, and thank you to the Foote family. We are very grateful for the legacy left by your parents and everything they did to build this great University.”

For more than two decades Pearson has been a member of the board of directors of the Montgomery Botanical Center. During his time as chairman of the City of Miami’s Beautification Committee in the 1990s, Pearson led volunteers in planting flowering and native trees along Interstate-95 and other highways. He was honored with the Outstanding Volunteer Award from the Florida Urban Forestry Council and the National Outstanding Volunteer Award from American Forests and the National Urban Forestry Council.

The Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote Prize was established by her children at the 2016 memorial service for President Foote.

 

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