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A Homecoming Celebration for the Decades

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A Homecoming Celebration for the Decades

By Robert Jones Jr.
UM News

Fireworks illuminate the Shalala Student Center during the 2015 Alumni Weekend and Homecoming celebration.

Fireworks illuminate the Shalala Student Center during the 2015 Alumni Weekend and Homecoming celebration.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (November 7, 2015) — Along with the fireworks, food trucks, and fun that marked another Homecoming celebration on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus Friday evening, a history lesson on wheels helped educate revelers about some of the important milestones and moments in UM’s past.

It came in the form of parade floats designed by students, who themed their rolling platforms around different decades as part of Homecoming’s “For My City” concept recognizing the spirit and tradition that make the University and Greater Miami community unique.

With their 1960s-themed float, students from Hecht College Council and the Association of Commuter Students gave parade-goers a mini-tutorial on some of the iconic figures who visited UM during that decade, dressing up as Martin Luther King Jr., Janis Joplin, and members of The Beatles. One student even dressed up as UM’s third president, Henry King Stanford, whose administration ushered in groundbreaking changes at the University, such as establishing an Office of Minority Affairs to promote diversity in admissions and becoming the first major college in the Deep South with a black football player, Ray Bellamy, on scholarship.

A shovel embedded in a pile of dirt to mark UM’s 1925 founding and wooden exteriors of 1930s-era Art Deco buildings in Miami Beach were among the features of a float designed by Zeta Tau Alpha and Pi Kappa Phi. But coming up with the different elements for their 1925 to 1939-themed float “wasn’t easy,” admits senior Melissa Wyatt, who made good use of the Otto G. Richter Library’s extensive archives to learn more about UM and local history.

A float designed by the Council of International Students and Organizations (COISO), Alpha Kappa Psi, and Spectrum, the University’s undergraduate LGBTQ organization, didn’t look like a float at all, but one of the popular gliders located outside UM’s new Rathskeller. The glider-styled float was themed around the 1970s, when UM’s original Rathskeller was built.

It was the culmination of a planning process that started back in February for the student-run Homecoming Executive Committee and Division of Student Affairs, and it was the first Homecoming celebration for new UM President Julio Frenk and his wife, Dr. Felicia Knaul.

“We wanted to show how UM impacts the Miami community, and also how Greater Miami impacts UM,” said senior O’Shane Elliott, chair of the Homecoming Executive Committee. “We really wanted to increase participation in a way that everyone at UM could relate to one theme.”

And that’s where the “For My City” idea came in, Elliott said.

Reggie Wayne, B.L.A. ’01, a former Hurricanes star wide receiver drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft, served as grand marshal of the parade.

Of course, Homecoming was more than just a march. A weeklong slate of events included the Alma Mater Competition, King and Queen Pageant, Organized Cheer, a Hurricane Productions concert, the Miami Hurricanes versus Virginia Cavaliers football game at Sun Life Stadium, and more.

Meanwhile, thousands of alumni returned to campus for Alumni Weekend activities, joining the the University of Miami Alumni Association on Alumni Avenue for mojitos and jambalaya at a Mardi Gras-themed event that harkened back to the Carni Gras festivals students held on campus for 40 years

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Former Stanford Dean Cautions against Overparenting during UM Family Weekend

UM News

New York Times bestselling author Julie Lythcott-Haims gives advice to parents during UM’s Family Weekend

New York Times bestselling author Julie Lythcott-Haim, who has written and spoken extensively about overparenting, gives advice to parents during a UM Family Weekend talk.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 24, 2015) – As dean of freshman at Stanford University during the early 2000s, Julie Lythcott-Haims noticed a disturbing trend: more and more parents, determined to play a role in the day-to-day existence of their college-enrolled children, were coming to campus and not wanting to leave.

The trend set off alarm bells for Lythcott-Haims, who felt such overparenting was causing kids to become “existentially impotent.” Students, she said, “didn’t seem to be able to plan and see things through on their own. They lacked a familiarity with themselves. They had great résumés, but couldn’t tell you how they had accomplished it.”

Lythcott-Haims left Stanford three years ago to pursue an M.F.A. in poetry, but her compassion for young people lived on, inspiring her to write How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, a New York Times bestseller that cautions against helicopter parenting that keeps children from growing up.

On September 18 during a University of Miami Family Weekend 2015 talk, she discussed many of the pitfalls of overparenting, telling a roomful of visiting mothers and fathers gathered inside the Shalala Student Center’s grand ballroom that while a certain amount of parental assistance can be good, too much can be harmful.

“The concern is that will these young men and women be able to fend for themselves one day,” said Lythcott-Haims during a sit-down conversation with UM Vice President for Student Affairs Pat Whitely. “Many weren’t fending at Stanford. Mom and dad were calling to help with roommate problems and grades, and to wake up their kids.

“When it’s time to hand off the mantle of leadership to the next generation,” she continued, “we want to know that they’ve got what it takes.”

She gave the parents some advice, telling them not to argue with every coach and referee and to allow their children to advocate for themselves.

“When they call home with a problem, listen and care, but ask, ‘How do you think you’re going to handle it?’ ” advised the former Stanford dean. “Leave them with the impression that it’s theirs to handle.”


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Students Gain New Perspectives at Summer Leadership Programs


Ten UM students and three staff members attended the leadership summit at the Walt Disney World Resort.

A select group of UM students participated in various leadership programs hosted by the National Association for Campus Activities across the country this summer, including ten students who attended a summit at Walt Disney World. The programs, which are aimed at promoting student engagement on college campuses and fostering meaningful volunteer experiences, included trips to the S.P.I.R.I.T. (Spirit, Pride, Involvement, Relationships, Impact, Traditions) Institute at Clemson University and the Concert Management Institute at Marquette University.

Representating different UM organizations, the students were grateful for the opportunity to meet and share ideas with fellow students from universities across the country. “It really helped give me perspective into some of the challenges that other universities are facing and how we can improve student spirit at UM,” rising senior Nicholas Kaleel, chair of Category 5, a student organization dedicated to fostering student spirit at UM, said about the S.P.I.R.I.T. Institute in South Carolina he attended with about 150 others.

Ja’Shondra Pouncy, social justice education coordinator at UM’s Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development, described the Summer Leadership Event at the Walt Disney World Resort as “a diverse group of individuals that all care about their work and are working towards a common goal.”

Students representing Hurricane Productions, the Homecoming Executive Committee, and Hurricane Productions Concerts also attended National Association for Campus Activities summer programs and hope their experiences will not only help them in their current roles but also when they graduate and become working professionals.

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René Monteagudo Appointed Director of UM Counseling Center

FAU Monteagudo

René Monteagudo

René Monteagudo, a counseling psychologist who specializes in crisis intervention, student development, training, supervision, group therapy, and the LGBT and Latino populations, has been appointed director of the University of Miami Counseling Center, effective July 1. He will succeed Ernesto Escoto, who departed from UM to pursue a new opportunity.

Originally from South Florida, Monteagudo is currently senior associate director of Florida Atlantic University’s Counseling and Psychological Services, where he also serves as director of clinical services. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and specialist’s degrees from the University of Florida and his Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Indiana University. He completed a doctoral internship at The Pennsylvania State University.

He has been on the FAU staff since 2013, and he previously served as director at the University of North Florida Counseling Center and as training director at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Counseling Center.

At his previous institutions, Monteagudo served on several major committees involving mental health and student crisis. He chaired the long-standing suicide prevention committee at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and served on behavioral intervention teams at UNF and FAU. He has presented at multiple conferences on group therapy, training, and leadership, and was an American Psychological Association accreditation site visitor.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Monteagudo will be joining us,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia A. Whitely. “I am confident that his diverse leadership experience will continue to enhance the services of our UM Counseling Center. He will no doubt be a committed and collaborative partner with faculty, students, and staff across the campus, and I am delighted he has accepted our offer to join the University community.”

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See a Smoker? Gently Remind Them That UM Is Smoke Free

Be.Smoke.FreeCORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 9, 2014)—Sixteen months after the University of Miami joined the ever-growing list of institutions of higher learning to prohibit smoking anywhere on their campuses, the U is, for the most part, smoke free. There may, however, be occasions when you encounter a student, visitor, or fellow employee lighting up, which raises the question: What should I do?

The answer lies in UM’s smoke-free campus policy, which places the collective responsibility of enforcing the smoking ban on faculty, staff, and students, who “are encouraged to directly and politely inform those unaware of the policy, or remind those in disregard of it.”

“Every member of our campus community should feel comfortable in gently reminding individuals who are smoking on campus that smoking is not permitted anywhere,’’ said Ricardo Hall, assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “Our experience shows that the vast majority of individuals quickly comply.”

Faculty and staff also are encouraged to make smokers aware of the University resources available to help them, their families and friends, and the broader community kick their highly addictive habit, which is exceedingly difficult to accomplish alone.

“Quitting is hard. It may be the hardest thing smokers ever do, but in keeping with the University’s commitment to wellness and the creation of the healthiest workplace possible, the University makes it easy for smokers to take the first step,” said Nerissa Morris, vice president for human resources and chair of the UM Wellness Advisory Council. “We continue to offer free resources to help smokers quit.”

Among them is UM’s award-winning Be Smoke Free smoking cessation program, which offers free Quit Smoking Now classes to UM students, employees, their family members, and the community at large. The six-week program includes group session counseling, education, and quit-smoking aids—such as nicotine replacement therapies—that together can help smokers minimize cravings, bolster resolve, and build a new sense of self free from the grip of nicotine addiction.

“Because nicotine is highly addictive, willpower and knowledge about the health hazards of using tobacco are not enough to help most people quit,” says Mohammad Asad, coordinator of the Be Smoke Free program. “Your cessation group can support you throughout your quitting process.”

The support group was key for Steven Peace, a senior manager at the Miller School of Medicine-based Florida Cancer Data System who began smoking in high school and vowed he’d stop at age 50—but failed every attempt. Six years later, he turned to the Be Smoke Free program to help him keep his promise, and succeeded.

“I feel so much better, and the Be Smoke Free program was a great way to help me quit. It was convenient, friendly, and supportive,” Peace says. “If you haven’t quit, it’s a good time to do so. You’ll be happier and healthier, and you will be able to breathe—and smell—so much better once you do.”

In addition to feeling (and smelling) better, Peace notes another benefit. He’ll no longer have to pay the smoker’s surcharge, which will double to $100 a month, for his UM health insurance.

The Quit Smoking Now classes are held at the Herbert Wellness Center on the Coral Gables campus and the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center on the Miller School campus, but wellness center membership is not required to attend. For a complete schedule and more information, visit miami.edu/besmokefree. To register, call 305-243-7606 or email Asad at MAsad@med.miami.edu.

The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program is another resource available to help employees and their dependents engage in conversations about the importance of quitting through free and confidential consultations.

Initiated by students who overwhelmingly supported a smoke-free Coral Gables campus, the smoke-free policy originated on the Miller School of Medicine campus in 2010. The Gables campus began phasing in its own policy the following year, initially restricting smoking to designated areas and prohibiting smoking everywhere as of August 1, 2013.

The policy specifically prohibits inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigarette or electronic cigarette, cigar, pipe, or other such device that contains tobacco or other smoke-producing products anywhere on campus, including University-owned or leased property, facilities, buildings, passageways, or parking garages.

So faculty and staff who see smokers anywhere on campus should gently remind them to extinguish their products, and encourage them to consider kicking their habit. As President Donna E. Shalala said in August 2013, when the Coral Gables campus joined the medical campus in becoming 100-percent smoke free, “We can all contribute to the success of the initiative by letting others know about the new policy and pitching in to help them comply.”


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