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New Iron Arrow Tappees Humbled and Honored

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    Thirty one students, faculty, staff and alumni were tapped into the University’s highest honor last week.

    By Mike Piacentino
    Special to UM News

    David Birnbach is

    Vice Provost David Birnbach is inked with the University’s colors, part of the Iron Arrow tapping ritual.

    CORAL GABLES, Fla. (Oct. 31, 2014) – David Birnbach, vice provost for faculty affairs and director of the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Hospital Center for Patient Safety, thought he was meeting with Provost Thomas J. Leblanc when the tribe interrupted the meeting.

    “At first, as I heard the drum, I thought about who might be the recipient, and it never dawned on me that they were here for me,” said Birnbach. “When the door crashed open and I was flung into the whirlwind of activity, I was at first shocked, then thrilled, and ultimately humbled by the great honor.”

    As vice provost, Birnbach oversees the promotion and tenure process, faculty mentoring programs, faculty diversity, and faculty development and recognition programs. Birnbach was recently named senior associate dean for Quality, Safety and Risk.

    Thirty one students, faculty, staff, and alumni were tapped last Wednesday and Thursday into the University of Miami Iron Arrow Honor Society.

    Iron Arrow was started in 1926, about a month after the University of Miami opened. It honors individuals who show a love of alma mater and embody the qualities of good character, leadership, scholarship, and humility. There are more than 2,900 members.

    Christian Garcia, executive director of the Toppel Career Center, had the rare opportunity Thursday to tap his predecessor, Jim Smart, who is now executive director of Housing and Residential Life, into the “highest honor attained at the University of Miami.”

    Iron Arrow members frequently use fake meetings or ask soon-to-be-tappees for a quick coffee break in order to secure a tapping time and location. So Smart had his “meeting” with Brenden Kollar, a former resident assistant who is working on the University’s new housing plan. But the meeting was soon interrupted by the familiar beating of the drum, and Garcia and Matt McCabe, a UM alumnus and former resident assistant in Hecht Residential College, pulled their mentor from his chair and presented him for the ritual tapping.

    “Much of Toppel’s success is the direct result of Jim’s leadership and vision as director,” said Garcia, who was tapped in the spring 2014. “I jumped at the opportunity to recognize my mentor and predecessor for his passion and dedication to UM.”

    Smart was a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ community at UM and served as the founding advisor for the University’s first student organization supporting LGBTQ students. Since then, Smart has continued to ensure that all University of Miami students feel at home during their time at UM.

    “Jim is most deserving of this honor,” said Patricia A. Whitely, vice president for student affairs. “He is an outstanding and dedicated leader at the University of Miami and has served our students with distinction for more than 24 years.”

    Shane McDermott, a UM senior and offensive lineman for the Hurricanes football team, was tapped into the tribe during a special tapping ceremony on Wednesday evening. In front of his coaches, trainers, teammates, and mother, McDermott was watching film when the tap of the arrow fell upon his chest.

    The full Fall 2014 tappee list includes:

    Daniel Atherton

    David Birnbach

    Patricia Byers

    Nejla Calvo

    Phillip Chan

    David Coulter

    Douglas “Doug” Crawford

    Melissa Damas

    Ryan Dauer

    Juan Carlos del-Valle

    Nicole Garcia

    Barry Gelman

    Michael Genden

    Kysha Harriell

    Hope Hua

    Erin Kobetz

    Ken Lee

    Vinay Madhusoodanan

    Michael Maguire

    Ashley McBride

    Shane McDermott

    Angelica Melillo

    Charles Mercer

    Julie Piccione

    David Rivero

    Mitchell Roffer

    James “Jim” Smart

    Heather Stephens

    Guerdiana Thelomar

    Richard Thurer

    Kristy Whyte


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