It wasn’t just another day at the ballpark, but a festive outing that celebrated outgoing UM President Donna E. Shalala’s remarkable 14-year tenure, the dedication of UM faculty and staff, their bonds with family, friends, and colleagues, and the promise of bright, young minds. The University of Miami’s annual Family Day with the Miami Marlins, held Saturday at Marlins Park in Little Havana, was all that and more. At the West Plaza, thousands of UM employees and their families and friends visited the Faculty and Staff Thank U tent, where they received orange U rally towels and enjoyed a panoply of pregame festivities, including face painting, autograph sessions with current and former Marlins players, photo opportunities with the Sebastian the Ibis and Billy the Marlin, and more.
Shalala, who was feted with a video tribute that played on the park’s jumbo screen, and UM Police Chief David Rivero threw out first pitches before the Marlins blasted the Philadelphia Phillies 7-0 in a stadium dotted with ’Canes waving those orange towels and pumping orange-and-green foam Us given to those who arrived early. But the Marlins weren’t the only winners, as the Miami Marlins Community Foundation awarded two generous scholarships to deserving ’Canes—Chelsea Mulkey, for her studies in the School of Education and Human Development’s Sport Administration Program, and the School of Communication’s Daniel New, who received the Suzanne Rayson Scholarship in Broadcast Journalism. Rayson, who served as the Marlins director of broadcasting from 2002 to 2008, passed away after a battle with cancer.
An estimated 19,000 UM employees and their guests participated in this year’s Family Day with the Marlins, the tradition begun 10 years ago to show the U’s appreciation for faculty and staff, who in addition to transforming lives every day through teaching, research, and service, have contributed more than $35 million to Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami.