Noteworthy News and Research at the University of Miami

Landmark $100 million gift names the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine
New Era of Excellence

$5 million grant creates genetics diagnostic lab
DNA-Driven Care

Frost School opens new library
and technology center
Noteworthy Addition

New Name, New Focus for Nursing

Colson Leads Board of Trustees


Public surveys track Hispanic attitudes
Changes in Latin ’Tudes

Art and architecture show off
during Art Basel

High Visibility

Place of Business

Dude, the U’s Getting a Dell

School of Communication
welcomes Sam Grogg

Fresh from L.A.

Who needs Cannes when you’ve
got ’Canes

Preparing for the Reel World
Miami for a Semester
Clarkson Sets His Sights on Ophthalmology Board   New Force in U.S.-Latin America Policy

Go Figure



New Era of Excellence

nnounced amid the backdrop of the Schoninger Research Quadrangle—where lifesaving research is conducted every day—the University of Miami received a $100 million donation for the School of Medicine from the family of the late Leonard M. Miller, founder of Lennar Corporation. The gift, the largest in University history, marks a new name and a new era of excellence at the medical school.

“From this moment forward, the school’s name will be the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine,” said UM President Donna E. Shalala, adding, “This kind of commitment is what makes universities great. It’s what makes communities great.”

In addition to establishing four Miller professorships, the gift will allow the school to recruit the next generation of biomedical scientists, enhance its academic mission, and meet other pressing needs.

Noting that the medical school provides health care to a diverse population of patients, regardless of their ability to pay, University of Miami Board of Trustees Chair Dean C. Colson, J.D. ’77, described the gift as “an inspiration to all of us who believe in the mission of the School of Medicine.”

Miller arrived in Miami in 1954 and invested $10,000 from his own pocket into a small home-building company. By the time of his death in 2002, that small company had become Lennar Corporation, with nearly $9 billion in annual revenues. In 1998 Miller and his wife, Sue, helped establish The Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies, located in the Merrick Building on the Coral Gables campus. Leonard Miller was chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees from 1995 to 1999.

In her moving speech at the announcement ceremony, Sue Miller praised the care her family received from the medical school.

“Leonard’s illness gave us a better understanding of what this arm of the University truly represents,” she said, recalling the doctors who would call from airports returning from seminars with new information related to Leonard’s illness. “I share these stories because there’s no better way to honor each and every one of you.”

“This community has benefited in ways that you’ll never know from the generosity of Leonard and Sue Miller,” said Florida Governor Jeb Bush at the ceremony, “and now the next generation of Millers is doing the exact same thing.”

With this and subsequent gifts, the Momentum fundraising campaign has reached more than $845 million toward its billion-dollar goal.

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Noteworthy Addition

tudy space in the Albert Pick Music Library steadily dwindled over the years, but the opening this semester of the Marta and Austin Weeks Music Library and Technology Center at the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music has created more than 140 seats and added “a robust offering of cutting-edge technology and playback equipment,” explains William D. Walker, University librarian. The $10 million facility, designed by Armando Rizo, B.Arch. ’80, is named in honor of a lead gift from University Trustee Marta Sutton Weeks and the late L. Austin Weeks, who also helped fund the L. Austin Weeks Center for Recording and Performance at the Frost School.

“Very few music schools have a dedicated, freestanding music library, and even fewer have one of this caliber,” says Frost School of Music Dean William Hipp. “I can just see prospective students and their parents taking a tour through this building with their eyes wide open. Current students and faculty seeing it for the first time are in awe.”

The library portion of the 28,000-square-foot facility places under one roof the scores and sound recordings formerly housed in the Pick building and the books, journals, videos, DVDs, and academic theses formerly housed in the Otto G. Richter Library and in storage at the University’s south campus. Among the holdings is a nationally known musical theatre archive, containing more than 40,000 recordings, scores, and Playbills.

Music librarian Nancy Zavac, M.M. ’79, is adjusting to the added responsibility of managing the entire collection under one roof, but she says it’s well worth the effort. “This is such a huge, huge improvement, and I think our use is going to go way up.”

The adjoining 5,200-square-foot music technology center is a music-making mecca that features five tech-driven labs: multimedia instruction, keyboard/computer, music engineering, electronic music, and media writing and production.

Library visitors are greeted by Fantasy—a sculpture by Mexican artist Leonardo Nierman, donated by Paul Yelin.

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Colson Leads Board of Trustees

n terms of leadership, Dean C. Colson, J.D. ’77, is a natural. Now chair of the University of Miami Board of Trustees, Colson has dedicated his life to serving his community.

After earning an undergraduate degree from Princeton University, where he was captain and most valuable player on the varsity tennis team, Colson returned home to Miami for law school. He then clerked for U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Peter Fay and U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist before joining Colson Hicks Eidson, the Coral Gables-based firm where he is a partner. Florida Governor Jeb Bush appointed Colson in 2000 to the State of Florida Commission on Ethics and in 2002 to the Judicial Nominating Commission for the Florida Supreme Court, of which he is now chair.

“I am truly excited about where the University of Miami is going and the speed of our progress,” says Colson, who chairs the University’s billion-dollar Momentum fundraising campaign.

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High Visibility

f an artist or architect creates a masterpiece and no one is there to view it, does it have any impact? Much like the silent tree that falls in the forest, works of art and design need an audience. Which is why William Carlson, chair of the Department of Art and Art History in the College of Arts and Sciences, has pledged to increase visibility for the department, starting with a high-profile exhibition in the Design District during Art Basel Miami Beach 2004.

“As a student, the first important step in a career commitment is to see your work in a location where you have to expose it to public criticism,” Carlson says. “You have to see whether you have the appetite for that.”

In a 7,000-square-foot space donated by Craig Robins, owner of Miami real estate development company Dacra, Affinitas: An Exploration of Art and Architecture displayed the creative reservoir within the Department of Art and Art History and the School of Architecture. The name Affinitas is a reference to the affinities between the two disciplines.

“They share a lot of the same kind of creative work,” says Carlson, who is working with School of Architecture Dean Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk to strengthen the bond.

“This is breaking new ground for us,” says Rocco Ceo, professor of architecture and co-coordinator of Affinitas. “It is more common to see exhibitions of art, less so for architecture, and virtually never for art and architecture.”

Ceo’s own submissions—including an intricate plan for a scenic overlook on Tamiami Trail that would raise money for Everglades restoration—appeared with student and faculty drawings, sketches, and mahogany-carved models. Among the highlights from art department faculty were emotionally charged video images by photography lecturer Carola Dreidemie, sculptural recreations of the actual internal organs of lecturer Leslie Speicher, and a life-sized mechanical horse that struts like the real thing when ridden by Assistant Professor Billie Grace Lynn.

Affinitas ran for four days in December during Art Basel Miami Beach, the U.S. sister to Art Basel Switzerland, one of the top international annual art shows for 34 years.

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Dude, the U’s Getting a Dell

lever analysis of the University’s computer purchasing habits has led to an exclusive campus-wide agreement with Dell, Inc., that is expected to save the University $2 million a year. The agreement, which makes Dell the University’s primary computer vendor for central purchasing, is the first of its kind between the computer giant and a major university.

“We have special packages that are available to us at a discounted price, and by buying in quantity, our discount on each computer is increased,” says M. Lewis Temares, vice president for information technology and dean of the College of Engineering.

Information Technology specialists from the medical and Coral Gables campuses teamed up with an outside “spend-analysis expert” and administrators from University Purchasing to determine “how we spend money and on what,” explains Alan Fish, vice president for business services. “The firm we used had industry pricing knowledge, which helped us work out a better deal with Dell after many months.”

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Preparing for the Reel World

ilmmaking incorporates myriad talents. Aspiring student filmmakers, however, rarely have a forum in which to exhibit their work and have it judged against that of their peers. For University of Miami filmmakers, the annual ’Canes Film Festival provides that unique opportunity.

The three-day event, founded in the early 1990s, showcases the films of University motion picture majors, as well as skills such as scriptwriting, editing, cinematography, directing, and film scoring.

This year’s ’Canes Film Festival will take place May 6 to 8 at the Bill Cosford Cinema on the Coral Gables campus. The festival will feature approximately 80 short films from a variety of genres: comedy, drama, documentary, and animation. Professionals in the motion picture industry prescreen the films to select the winners.

“There are a lot of very good, high-quality films in the festival,” says Nick Scown, M.F.A. ’04, whose film Forgiving John received the best graduate thesis film award last year. “When I won the award I was definitely shocked, but happy. The two years of being at the University of Miami and studying paid off. It was proof that it was well worth the effort.”

His 12-minute film is a “dramedy,” focusing on two disparate families—one “backwoods,” the other more citified—who meet at the funeral of a father who abandoned his family. Scown said the support of the School of Communication’s motion pictures program, which paid for film stock and provided cameras and other equipment, enabled him to produce a more ambitious film than his previous endeavors.

“The festival allows the community of filmmakers at the school to see the work of everybody else,” says Ed Talavera, associate professor of motion pictures and video-film and director of the festival. “It gives students an award that starts them off.”

The festival is free and open to the public. For information, go to

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Clarkson Sets His Sights on Ophthalmology Board

ohn G. Clarkson, M.D. ’68, senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, is stepping down from the post he has held for the past decade. Beginning in January 2006, Clarkson will lead the American Board of Ophthalmology, a certifying agency that ensures ophthalmologists maintain top professional skills.

“One of the real privileges of this job has been working with the wonderful students, faculty, and staff who make the medical center a jewel of the community,” Clarkson says.

Clarkson, who completed his residency training in ophthalmology at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, was director of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the medical school before becoming dean in November 1995. His ability to recruit talented researchers and fortify the physical environment with greatly needed facilities has helped transform the medical campus in a relatively short period of time. Clarkson led the planning, development, and implementation of the school’s largest capital campaign ever, highlighted by the historic $100 million naming gift from the family of the late Leonard M. Miller.

“Dean Clarkson has brought the Miller School of Medicine to previously unimaginable heights of excellence in biomedical research, education, and clinical care,” says University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala.

Clarkson will remain as dean until a successor is named, then assume a part-time leadership role at the University.

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DNA-Driven Care

ike machines, people come equipped with instruction manuals—our DNA. A new laboratory at the Miller School of Medicine, the first of its kind in Florida, is helping to “read” the genetic instructions that make some people more susceptible to diseases, nutritional deficiencies, or drug interactions. An additional $5 million grant from the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation has created the Miami GeneCure Diagnostic Laboratory.

“Genetics will change the attitude of medicine from a catch-up kind of thing after you become sick to let’s predict who is not going to be well and help them maintain optimum health,” explains Louis J. Elsas, M.D., director of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Center for Medical Genetics at the Miller School of Medicine.

Cancer, neurological conditions, metabolic disorders, early aging, cardiovascular disorders, and diabetes are some of the maladies that can have a genetic root. Miami GeneCure couples the latest screening technologies with follow-up diagnosis. Prevention is then possible through avoidance of environmental toxins, nutritional adjustments, gene replacement therapy, and drug therapy.

Miami GeneCure comprises three labs: a cytogenetics lab, which focuses on chromosome abnormalities, particularly those relating to cancer; a biochemical genetics lab, which addresses inborn errors of metabolism, such as enzyme deficiencies; and a molecular genetics lab, which tests for known gen-etic mutations, such as cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs.

Also through GeneCure, Elsas and other members of the Miami Gene Team are working with State of Florida officials to create a more comprehensive statewide newborn screening program than the one that currently exists. Most states test for four or five diseases, but Florida is expanding that list to more than 30. Still, screening alone is not enough. “Right now there is no infrastructure in the state for diagnosis and management,” Elsas says.

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New Name, New Focus for Nursing

he School of Nursing is broadening its reach with the announcement of a new name—the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies. In addition to B.S.N., M.S.N., and Ph.D. degrees, the school will now offer a B.S. in Health Science.

“Integrating the nursing and health science programs mirrors a growing national trend at nursing schools,” says University President Donna E. Shalala, the nation’s longest-serving Secretary of Health and Human Services. “Students will benefit from interdisciplinary courses rooted in contemporary models of health care.”

The Health Science program, formerly administered by the College of Arts and Sciences, prepares students for many health-related careers, from pharmacy and nutrition to health care administration, health policy, and international health.

“This expansion enables us to enrich the learning experience of all our students and propel our school to the next level of excellence,” says Nilda Peragallo, dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies.

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Changes in Latin ’Tudes

uch of Florida’s colorful cultural tapestry is the handiwork of its population of Spanish-speakers—the fourth largest in the nation. In the School of Communication, the Oficina de Investigación Social y Communicación is tracking opinions and behaviors among Florida’s growing Hispanic population to learn how society changes as a result of immigration.

“Florida is a good, if not perfect, laboratory for studying the processes taking place when cultures blend,” says Gonzalo Soruco, associate professor of advertising and public relations and director of the Oficina.

In 2004 the Oficina published its first research effort, the Hispanic Optimism survey, named as such because the researchers believe that migration is guided by the promise of reward. The telephone survey obtained responses from 400 Hispanic residents in the five counties that account for 75 percent of Florida’s 2.6 million-plus Hispanics—Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, Orange, and Palm Beach. Soruco was surprised by the uniformly high approval of quality of life in the United States, since “so many of them are working hard and long hours to make ends meet.”

The survey revealed that Hispanics, a term used by the U.S. Census Bureau since 1970 to categorize more than 20 nationalities, differ widely. In South Florida, Soruco explains, the Cuban stronghold maintained for the past 40 years is being supplanted by largely affluent and well-educated people from many regions in South America and the Caribbean. The young, those who are single, and those who come from Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela tend to be more liberal than older, first-generation Cubans; most oppose the war in Iraq and generally supported John Kerry for president. Soruco and graduate students at the Oficina are conducting a second survey to explore how Florida Hispanics voted in the 2004 presidential election and why.

Soruco’s research also addresses assimilation of Hispanics to U.S. culture and language, a process he knows well. As a young man Soruco moved from Bolivia to Oklahoma, where he tried to be “as inconspicuous as possible.” Miami was a much more favorable place for him to nourish his roots.

“Hispanics are becoming our bread and butter,” Soruco says. “The University understands the role that a research office such as ours can play.”

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Place of Business

new landmark building that will be the largest undertaking in the history of the School of Business Administration is becoming a reality following a $10 million gift from Coral Gables entrepreneur Miguel (Mike) Fernandez, who also was appointed to the UM Board of Trustees. The planned nine-story, 195,000-square-foot mixed-use Miguel B. Fernandez Family Entrepreneurship Building will house academic pavilions, student residences, an undergraduate placement center, the Al-Fassi Family Undergraduate Resource Center, and a center dedicated to the study and pursuit of entrepreneurial activities. Award-winning architect Michael Graves will design the facility.

“I am delighted to team up with the University of Miami in launching this exciting new venture that focuses attention on entrepreneurship, a field that is only recently beginning to command the respect it deserves in both the business and academic communities,” says Fernandez, a self-made entrepreneur and chairman of M.B.F. Healthcare Partners LLC, a private equity firm. “With five children of my own, I recognize how important it is to encourage education and create an environment for students to reach their potential.”

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Fresh from L.A.

aving etched his name on the Hollywood A-list as dean of the American Film Institute and as executive producer and financier of several motion pictures, including the Academy Award-winning The Trip to Bountiful and Kiss of the Spider Woman, Sam Grogg is now ready for an edgy exploration of what’s driving modern communication.

“I see an increasing blurring of the lines between media—between news and entertainment,” says Grogg, who was named dean of the School of Communication in February. “Everyday people are becoming the focus of our entertainment. It’s saying something about how pop culture is becoming more democratic.”

The interdisciplinary nature of the School of Communication, offering a platform to investigate trends such as today’s “infotainment” phenomenon, was a big factor in Grogg’s decision to move here from Los Angeles with his wife, Susan.

Grogg sees Miami as a “very sophisticated, advanced frontier town,” one whose geographic location promises its residents “a more cosmopolitan, diverse, international future.” Members of the media here, he says, are recognized for their ability to transcend borders. “We have to be careful that we don’t find ourselves glued together by a media that doesn’t celebrate differences.”

Earning a black belt in hapkido and tae kwon do merely four years after his foray into the martial arts is proof that Sam Grogg is a goal-oriented person. Two broken ribs and sleeping in a chair for five weeks were a small price to pay for this distinct recognition. As dean, Grogg will approach his duties at the School of Communication with the same type of determination. “One of my overall goals is to take an excellent program and get it recognized throughout the world for all the reasons it is excellent.”

Grogg assumes his role this summer, replacing Edward J. Pfister, who has served as dean since the school was founded in 1985.

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Miami for a Semester

semester abroad is one of the most enriching experiences a university student can have. But for those interested in marine science or Cuban studies, the international, subtropical city of Miami is the place to be.

The Division of Continuing and International Education’s Miami Semester program debuts this spring with a marine science track. Miami Semester in Cuban Studies launches this summer and may appeal to local students who are home for semester break.

“Our plan is to have several Miami Semester programs focusing on the University’s outstanding academic areas and on Miami’s unique location, culture, and environment,” explain Chris Tingue, director of Miami Semester, and Carol Lazzeri, M.S.Ed. ’86, associate dean of continuing and international education.

It’s not uncommon for U.S. institutions to showcase what they do best in semester programs. Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, for example, offers the Gettysburg Semester in Civil War Studies. And each year a group of UM students attends American University’s Washington Semester program to study such specializations as politics, foreign policy, and conflict resolution.

Miami Semester, open to non-freshman undergraduates at other accredited U.S. schools, initially is reaching out to students who were accepted to the University of Miami but chose not to attend.

“In addition to the obvious benefits of hosting students from other U.S. universities, we anticipate that after experiencing what UM has to offer, many will want to return as graduate students,” Lazzeri says.

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New Force in U.S.-Latin America Policy

he first time Susan Kaufman Purcell, director of the new Center for Hemispheric Policy, set foot outside of the United States was as an undergraduate Spanish major at Barnard College. Funded by a grant, she spent the summer with a family in Guadalajara, Mexico. “The first foreign country you see makes the most impact on you,” she recalls.

Since then, she has lived in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil, coupling her firsthand experiences in Central and South America with a doctorate in political science from Columbia University and a career goal of nourishing international relationships in the Western Hemisphere. For the past 16 years, Purcell has served as vice president of the Council of the Americas, a not-for-profit business organization headquartered in New York City, her birthplace. Previously she has served as senior fellow and director of the Latin America Project at the Council on Foreign Relations and as a member of the policy planning staff in the U.S. Department of State with responsibility for Latin America and the Caribbean.

As director of the Center for Hemispheric Policy, which replaces the North-South Center, Purcell is eager to meet with Miami business leaders to gauge the issues that are of utmost interest to them. “Given that Miami is the center of trade with Latin America, clearly free-trade agreements and expansion of Miami’s economic agreements with Latin America are key,” she says.

The center focuses on policy issues in terms of U.S.-Latin America relations, drawing from but not replicating the types of academic research conducted by the University’s faculty experts on the region. Visits to the center from high-ranking Latin American political officials and business leaders are on Purcell’s agenda, as are collaborations with policymakers, media professionals, and other authorities in the field.

Purcell, a monthly columnist for América Economía magazine, is enthusiastic about her new home. “I really like living in a microcosm of Latin America, which is what makes Miami so exciting.”

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Go Figure

A strictly by-the-numbers perspective of UM

Most in-demand undergraduate major by employers
Most in-demand major at
the University
National average starting salary
for a recent graduate in economics/finance
Second most in-demand major at the University


Number of sound recordings in the Marta and Austin
Weeks Music Library
Length of Don McLean’s
1971 hit American Pie
8.5 minutes
Time it takes a ray of
sunlight to reach the Earth
8.5 minutes
Distance between the Coral Gables campus
and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
8.5 miles





Proportion of U.S. students who earn a bachelor’s
degree without transferring institutions
55 percent
Overall undergraduate retention rate at the University
from fall 2003 to fall 2004
91 percent
Number of students who
transferred to UM in fall 2004
Number of fall 2004 transfer students who wish they
had arrived sooner

Sources: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Mapquest, Marta and Austin Weeks Music Library and Technology Center, NASA, National Association of Colleges and Employers, National Center for Education Statistics, UM Office of Planning and Institutional Research, VH1

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