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News and Events of Interest to University of Miami Alumni


Building a Legacy, Brick by Brick

Lady of Silk and Steel
Weaving a New Web Partygoers Flock to Sebastian’s Belated Birthday Bash
Stocking Up Makes Giving Easy Save the Date: Homecoming 2006

Alumni can leave their mark on the Alumni Center

Building a Legacy, Brick by Brick


oment by moment, year by year, each individual in the University of Miami community becomes part of the foundation upon which greatness is built. Now the University of Miami Alumni Association offers a way to memorialize the people and events that form our living history.

“Each student who has attended this University has added to its character, piece by piece,” says Donna Arbide, associate vice president of alumni relations. “It’s very fitting that the new Alumni Center showcase the mark of individuals—the people who have helped create what the institution is today.”

The new Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Alumni Center, designed by architect Michael Dennis, will include stone pavers that can be personalized to honor a person, family, event, or memory in a lasting way. The pavers will appear in a rear courtyard on the west side of the building, accented by landscaped gardens within a stone and wood pergola. A gift of $500 to the Alumni Center Capital Campaign enables you to write three lines of text onto a 4 x 8-inch stone paver. There also are 8 x 8-inch pavers that hold six lines of text and are available for a $1,000 gift. It is possible to purchase multiple pavers and have them placed next to one another, but the Alumni Association must receive these orders together. Each message, inscribed in the center of the paver in upper-and-lower-case lettering, must fit in the space provided. The Alumni Association reserves the right to approve all text prior to publication.

There are many reasons to customize pavers at the Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Alumni Center, the long-awaited “home away from home” for more than 142,000 alumni. A personalized paver is a great way to celebrate a milestone, such as a birthday or graduation, or to honor a special person like a family member, classmate, or mentor.

Whatever the occasion, the Alumni Center stone paver program creates an enduring and highly visible link between individuals and the University of Miami. While it is not the first of its kind at the University—bricks on the Wellness Center Love Bridge honor loved ones who met here—the program is particularly meaningful because the Alumni Center itself will be a tribute to the past, present, and future of the University. It will be a comfortable place to engage in Alumni Association and Alumni Club activities, register for special events like Alumni Weekend, attend faculty lectures and career networking events, and peruse 80-plus years of memorabilia on display. A living room, library, and café are additional spaces where alumni and friends, students and parents can make new acquaintances and renew old friendships.

The Alumni Center is named in honor of Robert and Judi Prokop Newman, whose vision and generous gift began making this signature building on the Coral Gables campus a reality.

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Weaving a New Web

he University of Miami Alumni Association is on the right page—Web page, that is. Now when you visit, your online UM Connection, you’ll find a whole new Web site that is brighter, bolder, and easier to navigate.

“It was time to take a step back and ask, ‘Is our site really serving the needs and practices of our alumni?’” explains Ryan Bladzik, director of alumni communications and digital media. “We decided it was time to increase our capacity for online services and communication.”

The UMAA’s mission was to create a site that is both intuitively organized, for ease of navigation, and technically sound, for ease of future update and expansion. A collaborative effort between the UMAA and University Communications, which designed the look and layout, the new site offers pages and content that clearly and easily convey the mission of the UMAA—to be Your UM Connection—by providing useful online tools that alumni can access at any time.

Some of the new features are improved regional and international club pages, a new “news” section that includes RSS news feeds, and a completely revamped online giving section to make it even easier to support the Annual Fund. Future plans also include upgrading the UMAA’s online directory and profile section and adding new media options like buddy icons, screensavers, and desktops.

“Some Web sites produce a sensory overload and are over-designed and over-planned,” added Bladzik. “We wanted a clean, crisp design to help alumni find whatever information they’re looking for, whether it’s bowl game details, local club information, or the latest alumni news.”

This is the fourth incarnation of the UM Alumni Association’s Web site since it first launched in the mid- 1990s. The site averages more than 200,000 visits each year.


Stocking Up Makes Giving Easy

ooking to streamline your investment portfolio, and you’ve been thinking about making a gift to support the new Alumni Center at the University of Miami? Why not accomplish both at the same time?

Donating stocks or other investments that you have held for longer than a year enables you to fulfill a philanthropic goal while deducting the full present market value and avoiding capital gains tax. The limit on deductibility in any tax year is 30 percent of your adjusted gross income, but any excess is deductible over the next five years. If your investment depreciated in value, you may wish to declare the loss by selling it first and then giving the proceeds to the University of Miami.

Investment contributions are exceptionally easy, which is why they accounted for 190 gifts totaling more than $8.4 million to the University in fiscal year 2005. As of January 2006, gifts designated for the Alumni Center in the form of stocks and investments added up to $3.8 million. You can contribute certificates or arrange to have a gift transferred electronically through your broker. The Depository Trust Corporation (DTC) is the clearing agent for stocks held electronically. Stock transfers are handled by the University’s discount broker, Young, Stovall & Company Stocks.

For more information on how you can make an investment contribution, contact Luz Morillo at 305-284-4342 or Donna Arbide at 305-284-2873.


Lady of Silk and Steel

ffectionately and respectfully nicknamed “the lady of silk and steel” during her four-year tenure as United States ambassador to Jamaica, Sue Cobb, J.D. ’78, approaches all challenges and endeavors in life with both style and strength.

“The honor, the privilege, and the responsibility of representing the American people in another country is an enormous task,” says Cobb, whose service in Kingston began September 11, 2001. “The United States has clamped down pretty hard on a lot of things, particularly with our close, offshore neighbors from where threats can easily emerge. I delivered tough messages, but I tried to do it with some degree of grace and skill.”

Today she brings that same degree of diplomacy to her post as Secretary of the Florida Department of State, appointed by Governor Jeb Bush. Since taking her oath of office in January, Cobb has set out to maintain the department’s “high level of efficiency and productivity” and “add value” to her office.

Cobb’s goals include the promotion of “fair, accurate, open elections,” and drawing upon her international experience, she hopes to promote the governor’s commitment to enhance Florida’s economic vitality through outreach overseas.

Cobb is not the only international dignitary in her family. Her husband, Charles E. Cobb Jr., a 1960 Olympic high hurdler and a 28-year member of the University of Miami Board of Trustees, is a former ambassador to Iceland. Together, the Cobbs have contributed much to the University of Miami, including Cobb Fountain in Lake Osceola; Cobb Stadium, with state-of-the-art facilities for track and field and women’s soccer; two Cobb family scholarships, which support the education of select Jamaican and Icelandic students; and many other gifts to the University and elsewhere, most with an educational or athletic-leadership aim. The Cobbs, who have two sons and seven grandchildren, recently celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary. “I like to tell people that Chuck and I got married when we were little kids and grew up together.”

Remembering Soia Mentschikoff, the former dean of the School of Law who influenced her decision to attend the University, Cobb says, “She was a wonderful intellectual and a wonderful leader.” After graduation, Cobb joined the Miami office of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, where she practiced commercial litigation and federal appellate work before founding the firm’s highly successful Public Finance Department.

“I wouldn’t have been in the position to do that successfully without the education I received in the UM law school.”

Among her many endeavors, Cobb has enjoyed numerous board appointments, including Goodwill Industries of South Florida, United Way of Miami-Dade County, the Zoological Society of Florida, the Miami-Dade County Super Bowl Committee, and three terms as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in Miami. Away from public service, Cobb has fulfilled legal and management responsibilities with Cobb Partners Ltd., her family’s venture capital company that focuses on building large-scale resort communities.

Once a nationally ranked tennis player and downhill skier, Cobb is author of The Edge of Everest: A Woman Challenges the Mountain (Stackpole Books, 1989), which chronicles her 1988 attempt to become the first American woman to summit Mount Everest. Cobb’s team came within 900 meters when a catastrophic storm derailed them.

“Nineteen people died while we were there on the mountain, but nobody on our team.” Cobb says this “unbelievably exciting, memorable experience” jibed with her general philosophy of pushing the limits outside of her comfort zone when opportunities arise.

Partygoers Flock to Sebastian’s Belated Birthday Bash


iving up to his legend, the University of Miami’s Sebastian the Ibis did not let a hurricane dampen his 50th birthday. On November 18, 2005, Sebastian celebrated this milestone in the company of ’Cane alumni, students, neighbors, and friends. In a massive party on the lawn in front of the BankUnited Center, the UM community came together to toast Sebastian and to demonstrate the strength of our spirit after the storm.

Sebastian’s original birthday party was to take place during the 2005 Homecoming pregame party at the Orange Bowl. Unfortunately, Hurricane Wilma’s devastating arrival in the Miami area at that time canceled all Alumni Weekend and Homecoming plans. Realizing the significance of Sebastian’s 50th, the Office of Alumni Relations and Department of Student Activities and Leadership Programs rescheduled the event.

An estimated 600-plus people came to the Coral Gables campus to mark the occasion. They enjoyed a carnival-style atmosphere, including games, cotton candy, a photo station with Sebastian cutouts, and an array of food stations to feed the masses. Celebrity cake designer Ana Paz donated a delicious cake for Sebastian. President Donna E. Shalala, with the help of the University of Miami cheerleaders and Band of the Hour, honored Sebastian in a rousing pep rally performance.

Also at the party, Sebastian was tapped into Iron Arrow, the highest honor attainable at the University of Miami. Like all new members, Sebastian had no clue that he would be voted into the prestigious cohort of about 2,600 students, faculty, administrators, and alumni who have been tapped during the 79-year history of Iron Arrow. To be inducted, members must exhibit high levels of scholarship, leadership, character, humility, and love of alma mater.

The turnout demonstrated the devotion ’Canes have for their University and, of course, their beloved mascot. There’s no doubt the University will rejoice again in another 50 years, when Sebastian will still be the first out of the storm.

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Save the Date: Homecoming 2006

lumni Weekend and Homecoming 2005 was supposed to be a landmark event, with new activities introduced alongside traditional favorites. While Hurricane Wilma overturned those plans, the date is set for Alumni Weekend and Homecoming 2006 to debut a new twist on old favorites.

Scheduled for November 3 to 5, the weekend will include the first-ever installation of Alumni Avenue—a giant block party on Stanford Circle. Instead of individual reunions, Alumni Avenue enables all alumni to stroll down memory lane with friends and classmates in carnival-style tent parties for reunion classes and affinity groups. Alumni Avenue opens on Friday, November 3, following the time-honored parade, pep rally, boat burning, and fireworks on the Coral Gables campus. The Saturday pregame party at the Orange Bowl will set the stage for an exciting rumble on the gridiron as the Hurricanes take on the Virginia Tech Hokies.

For more information on Alumni Weekend, contact the UM Alumni Association toll free at 1-866-UMALUMS or e-mail For an updated schedule of events, visit the Web at

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