e-Veritas Archive | December, 2015

Michael Higer, J.D. ’85, Named President of the Florida Bar for 2017

Michael Higer

Michael Higer

The Florida Bar has named Michael J. Higer, J.D.’85, president for 2017. The Miami Beach native will be sworn in at the Florida Bar Convention in Orlando in June to lead the more than 100,000 member organization.

“We are delighted to have another Miami Law alumnus as president of The Florida Bar,” said School of Law Dean Patricia D. White.

While at Miami Law, Higer served as editor of the University of Miami Law Review, was a member of the Trial Advocacy Program, and graduated cum laude.

“I am extremely honored and humbled to be representing Miami Law and the U as president-elect designate of The Florida Bar,” said Higer, a partner at Berger Singerman’s Dispute Resolution Team. “Miami Law is where I learned to be a critical thinker and met some of my best friends and colleagues. It is where my love for the law blossomed.  My law school education at Miami Law was and is the foundation for my career.”

Higer is a both an experienced commercial litigator and civil trial attorney admitted to practice in Florida, Washington, D.C., and the United States Supreme Court. He has been an active member of the Florida Bar, serving on the Board of Governors and the Executive Committee.

After law school, Higer worked as a commercial litigator at Fine Jacobson Schwartz Nash Block & England before joining Coll Davidson Carter Smith Salter & Barkett, where the founding shareholders named him the first non-founding shareholder. In 2006, he formed Higer Lichter & Givner. He joined Berger Singerman in 2014.

Both the Associated Press and Daily Business Review announced the appointment.

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Photographer Rides in the DCC for Her Sister

Special to UM News

Photographer Sarah Moody, left, will ride in her third Dolphins Cycling Challenge for her sister, Claire, right, who has a rare form of cancer.

Photographer Sarah Moody, left, will ride in her third Dolphins Cancer Challenge for her sister, Claire, right, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2012.

Sarah Moody has supported her younger sister, Claire, through every stage of her cancer journey. Now, Moody is readying to ride in her third Dolphins Cancer Challenge (DCC) on Saturday, February 20 to raise funds for Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“I have participated in the DCC for the past three years, cycling the 30-mile route,” Moody said. “It’s a super-awesome experience to see the families whose lives have been affected by cancer.”

A graduate of Parsons School of Design in New York, Moody also sells her own photography and the works of other local artists for the Moody Fund for Cancer Research at Sylvester, which was established to help her sister. (See MaggieKnox.com for more information.)

Claire Moody was just 20 years old when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in May 2012. A rare cancer of the bone, osteosarcoma occurs primarily in children and young adults, and only 800 cases a year are diagnosed in the U.S. The following month, Claire started treatment at Sylvester with a team led by Jonathan C. Trent, professor of medicine and co-director of the Musculoskeletal Center, Sarcoma Medical Research Program.

“After my sister was diagnosed, I moved from New York to Miami to be closer to her and our parents,” said Moody. “That fall I rode in my first DCC, raising $11,000 for research at Sylvester. She was being treated at the same time, so it was a very poignant experience for me.”

Claire came through her cancer treatment at Sylvester with flying colors.

“Dr. Trent saved her life, and we are very grateful for the care provided by the entire Sylvester team,” said Moody.

Unfortunately, Claire later suffered a recurrence that required several special surgeries and is taking part in a clinical trial for a new cancer drug.

“Now, I’m looking forward to my third ride in the DCC,” said Moody, noting that other options for DCC VI at Sun Life Stadium include a 5K walk and run and participating as a virtual rider. “I encourage everyone at the University of Miami to consider taking part in this important event and DCC with me.”

To learn more, visit Dolphins Cancer Challenge.


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Lawyer and Alumnus H.T. Smith Inspires Graduates to Achieve the Impossible

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

UM trustee and Miami Law alumnus H.T. Smith delivers the fall commencement address.

UM trustee and Miami Law alumnus H.T. Smith delivers the fall commencement address.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 17, 2005) – Inspired by the words of the great Nelson Mandela, who called education a powerful weapon that can change the world, H.T. Smith returned home from the jungles of Vietnam in 1970 with a dream of enrolling in the University of Miami’s law school and becoming a lawyer who would defend the rights of the weak and the marginalized.

But Smith faced two major obstacles—classes would be starting in just two weeks, and he hadn’t even taken the Law School Admission Test. Without LSAT scores, getting admitted to law school would be “impossible,” Smith’s family and friends told him.

Refusing to accept the finality of that word, Smith, who grew up in Miami’s impoverished Overtown neighborhood and was accustomed to overcoming challenges, drove to the UM campus, and, without an appointment, asked to meet with the law school’s dean, to whom he delivered this message:

“Dean, I just spent 400 days fighting for my country in the jungles of Vietnam. They did not give the LSAT where patriots were fighting and dying. They gave the LSAT over here, to a lot of folks who were dodging the draft, and that isn’t fair. So I’m just telling you straight up: I’m going to be in law school this semester, in the first class, in the first row, in the first seat. That is what I gotta do, and you just have to do what you gotta do.”

Impressed, the dean worked out an arrangement. He would admit Smith under one condition—that he pass the LSAT the next time the test was given.

“You see, I know that impossible means it just has not happened yet,” Smith, one of Miami’s most distinguished lawyers and civic leaders, told more than 900 graduates at UM’s fall commencement ceremony, held Thursday at the BankUnited Center. “So when someone tells you that reaching your dream is impossible, just smile and say to yourself, ‘I can show you better than I can tell you. It’s not impossible. It just hasn’t happened yet.’”

Presiding over his first UM commencement ceremony, President Julio Frenk noted that 59 percent of UM students identify as members of a minority group. “You represent the fulfillment of our founders’ dream of a Pan American university,” he said.

The physician and former Harvard dean, whose inauguration ceremony will take place January 29, also touted the University’s diversity and said he is dedicated to making the institution a “model of an inclusive community.”

Smith’s message about nothing being impossible was one of three themes the UM trustee, Miami Law alumnus, and founder of H.T. Smith, P.A., shared with graduates.

“It doesn’t matter where you start, you can reach your dream,” Smith said, using his own life as an example of achieving success against seemingly insurmountable odds.

“I was born in a shotgun shack on the rough side of the railroad track in the toughest neighborhood in Miami, Overtown,” he said. “I grew up on a street called “Bucket of Blood” and it earned that nickname. My grandmother was a maid for 52 years, scrubbing floors and raising other people’s children. My mother was a beautician, and my father was a mailman. I had a sister and two brothers…and me and my brothers had to fight—going to school and on the way back home. That was part of the way we had to live to survive.”

The first African American to serve as a Miami-Dade County assistant public defender and assistant county attorney, Smith told graduates he attended “staunchly segregated, second-class schools, with second-class equipment, second-class facilities, and second-class money”—a status thrust upon him “solely because I was black, because my skin had been kissed by nature’s sun.

“Today, I came to share with you that I was able to go from then and there and that to here and now and this,” continued Smith, assuring graduates that they could, without a doubt, achieve their goals.

“At this great University, you have learned not only how to think, but what to think about,” said Smith. “You have learned that diversity is not just about inclusion—it’s about a feeling of belonging. You have learned that your dream, of course, is about your destination…But understand that nobody hands you a dream. To get there is the journey, and on your journey it will take 25 percent inspiration and 75 perspiration.”

Smith urged graduates to do something great, starting with being a great son or daughter, mother or father, sister or brother. Only negative emotions, such as envy, jealousy, revenge, and arrogance, can prevent them from achieving greatness, he said.

“So, reach for the stars, with the U as your launching pad and the knowledge you received here as your rocket fuel.”

His words resonated with Adriana Gonzalez, a program coordinator for the Executive Education Program at UM’s School of Business Administration, who received her Bachelor of General Studies during the ceremony. “It’s been a long and tough road, working full time and taking classes,” she said. “But it’s a fulfilling experience getting my degree, and it’s only the first step in my dream of getting my M.B.A.”



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Frost Artists Nominated for Grammys

By Andres Tamayo
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 17, 2015)—The Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music shined last week as two faculty and three alumni received nominations for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, which will be announced on February 15. Dean Shelly Berg, a pianist-arranger-composer and the Patricia L. Frost Professor of Music, garnered his fourth Grammy nomination in the “Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals” category. Professor Gonzalo Rubalcaba and alumni Robert and Michael Rodriguez, better known as The Rodriguez Brothers, were each nominated in the “Best Latin Jazz Album” category. Alumna Maria Schneider earned two nominations—in the “Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals” and  “Large Jazz Ensemble Album” categories.


Dean Shelly Berg

An accomplished pianist in both classical and jazz styles, Berg is a Steinway piano artist and recording artist for Concord Music Group and Universal Music Classics. He is also the host of Generation Next on Sirius XM satellite radio. Berg was previously the McCoy/Sample Professor of Jazz Studies at USC Thornton School of Music and past president of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). In 2000, the Los Angeles Times named him one of three “Educators for the Millennium.”

“It is an incredible honor to be nominated for another Grammy Award,” Berg said. “I am so proud to be joining Michael, Robert, and Gonzalo as representatives of the Frost School of Music. Being able to watch young artists grow and learn here at UM and take their career to incredible heights is a true honor.”

The Rodriguez Brothers, co-led by pianist/composer Robert and trumpeter/composer Michael, received their nomination for their album, Impromptu (Criss Cross Jazz). Inspired by their father, who is a drummer, they began musical training at a very young age and both received full scholarships to the University of Miami. Michael finished his bachelor’s degree at the New School for Jazz Studies in New York City and Robert, after receiving his Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies at UM, soon followed to New York. The brothers have individually worked as sidemen for artists such as Roy Haynes, Charlie Haden, Ray Barretto, Eddy Palmieri, David Sanchez, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Locke, Carla Bley, Bob Minzter, Harry Conick Jr., Christian Mcbirde, Richard Bona, Quincy Jones, and fellow nominee Gonzalo Rubalcaba.


Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Rubalcaba is a lecturer in the Frost School’s Department of Studio Music and Jazz and is a multi-Grammy Award and Latin Grammy Award-winning Cuban jazz pianist and composer. His latest nomination comes for his work on the album Suite Caminos (5Passion). Born in post-revolutionary Havana and into a musical family rich in the traditions of the country’s artistic past, his music is inspired by his culture. He earned his degree in music composition from Havana’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1983 and was discovered by Dizzy Gillespie in 1985 while playing in the clubs and music halls of Havana. Soon after, he made his way to the U.S. and landed in South Florida in 1996. His illustrious career has included recording with his own groups for several major labels, including 11 albums for Blue Note, and also with jazz luminaries Ignacio Berroa, Ron Carter, Chick Corea, Al Di Meola, Charlie Haden, David Sanchez, and many others. He also has been nominated twice for Billboard’s Latin Jazz Album of the Year.

Schneider and her orchestra are nominated for their collaboration with David Bowie on “Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)” and for their 2015 album, The Thompson Fields. Schneider has multiple previous Grammy nominations and three wins to her credit in the classical and jazz genres. The Maria Schneider Orchestra has performed worldwide, and Schneider has commissioned works and performed as a guest conductor for more than 85 groups from over 30 countries.

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CHP Founder Takes the Next Step in Her Career

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

Susi Davis and Susan Purcell

For nearly 11 years Susi Davis (seated) and Susan Kaufman Purcell conceptualized topics and lined up speakers for the Center for Hemispheric Policy’s dynamic programming.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 15, 2015) – With outstanding grades in all her graduate courses and time spent abroad conducting research, Susan Kaufman Purcell seemed the perfect choice for a job teaching Latin American politics at the university level.

“It was a time when most colleges didn’t have professors who specialized in that area,” recalled Purcell of the late 1960s, when she graduated from Columbia University with a Ph.D. in political science. “So there were lots of good jobs, but the men got those jobs first.”

Purcell became painfully aware of that fact after being passed over for an assistant professorship at the University of Wisconsin, only to find out later that a male classmate, with grades and experience no better than hers, had been hired for the position. “They wanted someone who could run a new Latin American Center” was the explanation Purcell’s friend offered as to why she didn’t get the job. “The implication being that I couldn’t do it,” she said.

Read the full story

Posted in Freeze Frame, NewsComments Off

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