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September 1, 2006

Dear Colleagues:

You can tell the fall semester is under way. We’ve already had a tropical storm blow through! Ernesto didn’t amount to much, but it still necessitated the closing of the University for two days. Most of the University was already back to normal on Wednesday morning, and we were back to business as usual in short order.

You may be interested to know that we have two teams of administrators who are involved in emergency preparation and management at UM. Provost Tom LeBlanc and I head up each team with the assistance of Vice President Alan Fish, who oversees emergency preparedness for the University.

The Crisis Decision Team comprises 52 people that includes a core group of vice presidents and deans and their alternates. This team begins meeting early on, when a storm is first posing a potential threat, and is the group that makes decisions on closing the University. The Emergency Advisory Committee is much larger, with 116 members, and includes all vice presidents and deans and their alternates, as well as other senior administrators. This group begins meeting just prior to the arrival of a storm and takes an active role in assessment and recovery efforts following a storm. The University is fortunate to have such an experienced and dedicated team looking after its best interests. They do a tremendous job.

Administrators aren’t the only ones involved in emergency preparedness. We also have a team of more than 30 students who organized a group called ’Canes Emergency Response Team (CERT). This team of well-trained students performs a number of duties both before and after storms, such as organizing food drives for the elderly, reaching out to neighbors who may need help, assisting with food preparation and distribution on campus, and directing traffic snarls caused by inoperative traffic signals.

We are delighted to welcome newcomers to campus this fall. I have met many of the members of our entering class at Orientation, the Freshman Picnic, and during move-in weekend. We also welcome our new faculty and staff who are joining the University. The quality of our new recruits just continues to improve each year.

There are several new faces among our senior administration. Our new senior vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer, Joe Natoli, arrives on campus in the next few weeks. Mr. Natoli was an executive with Knight-Ridder Corporation for many years, and we are pleased to welcome him and his family back to South Florida. William Donelan has been named vice president for medical administration and chief operating and strategy officer for the Miller School of Medicine. Mr. Donelan was formerly executive vice president and chief operating officer for Duke University Health System and vice chancellor for health affairs for Duke University.

Dr. Isaac Prilleltensky joins us as dean of the School of Education. Dean Prilleltensky was formerly professor of human and organizational development and director of the Ph.D. program in community research and action at the prestigious Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. His wife, Dr. Ora Prilleltensky, also joins the faculty of the School of Education. And we have a new dean of students, Dr. Ricardo Hall, who joined us this summer from Wake Forest University.

Dr. Pascal Goldschmidt, who joined us at the very end of the spring semester as senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Miller School of Medicine, has had a particularly busy summer. He has been a quick study and is making tremendous progress toward the realization of our new University Hospital and other key facilities. He is also finessing amazing recruitment strategies and is making some key senior-level appointments.

We also welcome husband-and-wife team Dr. William Green and Dr. Rebecca Fox to campus. Dr. Green is our new senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education who joined us this summer, and Dr. Fox is my new assistant and chief of staff. And a familiar face taking on a new challenge this fall is Aileen Ugalde, formerly vice president for government affairs and my chief of staff. Ms. Ugalde is now vice president, general counsel, and secretary to the Board of Trustees.

Assisting our new faculty and administrators in finding and securing affordable housing continues to be a high priority for the University. This fall we will announce several new programs that will benefit both our new recruits and our current employees. In addition to the existing Direct Mortgage Assistance Program, a Shared Appreciation Mortgage Program has been developed over the summer to help new faculty members buy homes here in South Florida. Additionally, we will be offering special mortgage programs through major banks that are available only to our employees. More information on these programs will be made available shortly. We also plan to break ground on 16 new townhouses for faculty and staff across from University Village this year; construction has begun at Smathers Four Fillies Farm in Pinecrest; and we are moving closer to starting construction at South Campus Village, which will offer a variety of housing options at different price points.

Last spring, we sailed past our $1 billion goal for the Momentum campaign. Together, we have now raised almost $1.2 billion through the campaign, and we’re still going strong. That’s an incredible achievement, and we should all be very proud. Many of you have already made generous contributions through the faculty and staff component of the campaign, and I thank each of you who have made a personal commitment.

An outward signal of the success of our campaign and the growth of the University is the number of new buildings that are opening their doors this fall. Students will begin moving into the new University Village complex during the next few weeks. The Clinical Research Building at the Miller School of Medicine is complete, as is the impressive new Medical Wellness Center. The Miller School also opened a new 7.4-acre complex for Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Palm Beach Gardens last month. This month the School of Nursing and Health Studies will begin moving into their new home, the M. Christine Schwartz Center for Nursing and Health Studies. The School of Communication’s new student center will soon be completed, and the first phase of construction at Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park will be completed next month.

Numerous other major projects are under construction or will begin this year, including the Miguel B. Fernandez Family Entrepreneurship Building at the School of Business Administration and the Biomedical Research Institute at the medical campus. Our spectacular new University Hospital is in pre-design, and we expect to break ground in the coming months.

In a few weeks, the University will launch its 2006 United Way campaign. United Way is a vital community resource, and I trust each of you will make a generous contribution. Some of you may not know that you can direct your United Way gift toward a nonprofit organization of your choice — including the University of Miami. Should you choose to direct your gift to support a program at the University, your donation will also count toward the Momentum campaign.

I wish each of you a great semester and a great year ahead. Have a restful Labor Day weekend, and I hope to see you at the Orange Bowl for the UM-FSU game on Monday!


Donna E. Shalala

Office of the President
P.O. Box 248006 Coral Gables, Florida 33124-4600
305-284-5155 Fax 305-284-3768