CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 16, 2014) – From a child prodigy who started making music before he even learned to read, to an oceanographer who once lived beneath the sea in a small enclosure for two weeks, to a physician known for his contributions to public health, health care, and decision-making, the University of Miami welcomes an extraordinary lineup of speakers and honorary degree recipients during May Commencement ceremonies May 8-10 at the BankUnited Center.
Shelton G. “Shelly” Berg, dean of UM’s Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music, leads off the list of commencement speakers when he delivers remarks at the Graduate Degree Ceremony on Thursday, May 8, at 4 p.m. Berg, a jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, arrived at the Frost School in 2007 with an ambitious goal of creating a curriculum in which all student musicians—from classical to jazz and everything in between—learn to create music rather than simply re-create it. Today every Frost undergraduate student participates in the Experiential Music Curriculum, a first-of-its-kind pedagogy that combines sight singing, improvisation, and aural skills in small breakout groups for intensive training. In addition to expanding the Frost curriculum, Berg has worked tirelessly to increase professional experiences for students, attracting the acclaimed Henry Mancini Institute to the school, as well as the famed jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard as its artistic director. He has appeared on many Grammy-winning projects, such as Arturo Sandoval’s A Time for Love and Dear Diz. In 2013 he received his first personal Grammy nomination for his arrangement of “Out There” on the Lorraine Feather CD Tales of the Unusual. In 2014 he earned Grammy nominations in two categories for his work as co-producer and his arrangement of “What a Wonderful World” on Gloria Estefan’s album The Standards.
UM will conduct three undergraduate degree ceremonies on Friday, May 9:
A political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought, Danielle S. Allen will give advice to graduates and receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences beginning at 8:30 a.m. Allen is the UPS Foundation Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study. Also an amateur boxer, Allen likes to spar with the thorny, real-world issues facing modern America. She draws on her extensive study of ancient Greece for insight on topics such as democracy, education, justice, and race. She is presently working on books on citizenship in the digital age and political equality, and she is the director of The Democratic Knowledge Project, a group of research projects on knowledge and democracy. Among these is HULA, which assesses the ability of a humanistic education to spur civic involvement and political participation.
Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence and marine biologist, will address students and receive an honorary Doctor of Science at the 12:30 p.m. ceremony for the Schools of Architecture, Communication, Education and Human Development, Music, and Nursing and Health Studies, as well as the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Born in Gibbstown, New Jersey, to parents who taught her to respect wild creatures and not be afraid of the unknown, Earle has been an ambassador for the world’s oceans for decades—explaining to millions of people how our oceans govern climate and weather and provide the cornerstone of the life-support system for all creatures, while at the same time raising awareness about the dangers posed by overfishing and toxic chemicals. She has explored the seas on scientific expeditions to the Galapagos, Panama, China, the Bahamas, and the Indian Ocean. Earle once led an all-female research expedition, living in a small structure 50 feet below the surface of the ocean off the coast of the U.S. Virgin Islands for two weeks.
Longtime UM trustee Charles E. “Chuck” Cobb will address graduates at the 5 p.m. ceremony for the School of Business Administration and College of Engineering. A former chair of UM’s Board of Trustees, Cobb was selected by President Ronald Reagan in 1987 as assistant secretary and then undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 1989 then-President George H.W. Bush selected him to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Iceland, a post he held from 1989 to 1992. Cobb’s lifelong commitment to his country and to global causes runs deep. From 1958 to 1960 he served as an officer in the U.S. Navy. A top athlete in college, he was an alternate on the U.S. Team for the 110-meter hurdles event in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome and represented the U.S. in track meets throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. A Stanford alumnus, Cobb proved to be fiercely competitive and successful in the business world as well. Through the 1970s and ’80s, he was CEO or COO of Arvida Corporation, Penn Central, and Disney Development Company. Today he is senior managing director and CEO of the investment firm Cobb Partners Ltd.
The School of Law and Miller School of Medicine will hold their commencement exercises on Saturday, May 10, at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez is scheduled to address law school graduates. Perez has spent his entire career in public service. From 2002 until 2006, he was a member of the Montgomery County Council. He was the first Latino ever elected to the council, and served as council president in 2005. Earlier in his career, he spent 12 years in federal public service, most as a career attorney with the Civil Rights Division. As a federal prosecutor for the division, he prosecuted and supervised the prosecution of some of the Justice Department’s most high profile civil rights cases, including a hate crimes case in Texas involving a group of white supremacists who went on a deadly, racially motivated crime spree. Perez was nominated by President Obama to serve as the nation’s 26th secretary of labor and was sworn in on July 23, 2013. He previously served as assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine, will accept an honorary Doctor of Science at the Miller School’s commencement. He has devoted most of his academic career to the fields of health care, public health, and decision-making at both the individual and policy level, in the United Sates and around the world. His past research has included health policy development and implementation, assessment of medical technology, evaluation and use of vaccines, and dissemination of medical innovations. Fineberg helped found and served as president of the Society for Medical Decision Making and has been a consultant to the World Health Organization. The co-author of three books—Clinical Decision Analysis, Innovators in Physician Education, and The Epidemic That Never Was, which analyzed the controversial federal immunization program against swine flu in 1976—Fineberg also has co-edited several books on such diverse topics as AIDS prevention, vaccine safety, and understanding risk in society. He earned his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree in public policy, and M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University, where, following 13 years as dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, he served as provost from 1997 to 2001.