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Leadership Symposium Named for Pat Whitely

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    Pat Whitely, third from left, throws up the U with, from left, symposium speaker Cecilia Gutierrez-Abety, Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc, and Mikala Farr, chair of the Women’s Leadership Symposium.

    CORAL GABLES, FLA. (March 19, 2016) —A ’Canes family has made an anonymous $200,000 gift to endow the Women’s Leadership Symposium in honor of Dr. Patricia A. Whitely, vice president of student affairs. The family was directly touched by Dr. Whitely’s leadership and care and wanted to support this important program for female students. The announcement came Saturday afternoon during the annual symposium, now in its fourth year, at the Shalala Student Center.

    “Dr. Pat Whitely is a remarkable leader and well deserves the distinction of having the University of Miami Women’s Leadership Symposium named in her honor,” said President Julio Frenk. “The contributions by women to all fields must be recognized and valued, and I am proud that the University offers such a forum for engaging and transforming our community.”

    Whitely has been an integral part of student affairs at the University for more than 30 years. She has been honored with numerous awards by the University’s student community. In 2012, the University of Miami Student Government Executive Board established the “Patricia A. Whitely Unsung Hero Award” in her honor. The award recognizes a Student Government member who goes above and beyond his or her responsibilities.

    The chair of the Women’s Leadership Symposium, senior Mikayla Farr, has seen first-hand how the annual  student-led conference helps students become effective leaders. “I am very honored to have been a part of such an amazing program throughout my undergraduate career here at UM,” she said. “The Women’s Leadership Symposium has taught me so much about what it means to be a confident and charismatic servant leader.”

    Farr sees this gift as a facilitator for the symposium to reach more people and influence future leaders. “I am very excited to see the future growth of the symposium with this generous donation, and how it will serve as a catalyst for leadership development for the next generation of UM women,” Farr said. “Dr. Whitely is a phenomenal woman, and it is truly a privilege to be able to use the symposium as a tool to celebrate her leadership.”

    Whitely’s service extends beyond the University of Miami, as she is a national leader in the field of student affairs. She recently completed her term as the chair of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Board of Directors for 2014-2015. In 2013, she received NASPA’s Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Performance as a Senior Student Affairs Officer, the highest award in her profession. In June 2012, NASPA’s Region III awarded her the  John Jones Award for Outstanding Performance as a Senior Student Affairs Professional.

    “I am extremely humbled that a special ’Cane family has honored me by endowing this innovative student leadership experience in my name,” Whitely said. “With support of this gift, in the fourth year of the symposium, I’m thrilled we can continue to enhance this experience for future generations of Miami Hurricanes. The program provides our students a unique opportunity to explore and develop their personal leadership skills from diverse women within our Miami community, along with creating a positive and supportive network of individuals who vary across professional disciplines and life experiences.”

    This year’s symposium featured keynote speaker Cecilia Gutierrez-Abety, president and CEO of the Miami Children’s Initiative. Advised by the Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development, the symposium serves as a forum for students to connect, explore and engage in topics pertaining to women’s leadership and empowerment. The goal is to create a safe and empowering environment for participants to learn from each other as they explore their individual leadership styles through professional development workshops and wellness classes.

    For more information on the Women’s Leadership Symposium, please visit


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