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Miami magazine: Bold Beginnings Bright Tommorows

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The 1920s
The charter for the University of Miami is granted on April 8. The University is born out of the dream and financial backing of city founder George Merrick, the hard work of retired businessman Frederic Zeigen, and the community connections of Judge William E. Walsh.
Coral Gables becomes a city when the Florida Legislature approves the charter April 27.
George Merrick pledges 160 acres and $5 million for the new university.

On February 4, the cornerstone is laid on the Solomon G. Merrick Building, the first building planned for a Mediterranean-style campus.
On September 17, a destructive hurricane strikes Miami, with Coral Gables and the new University of Miami at ground zero.
Students register on October 15 and start classes October 18 in an unfinished hotel, the Anastasia Building, nicknamed the “Cardboard College” because of the hastily built, flimsy partitions between classrooms.
The new university offers classes in liberal arts and music and an Evening Division. The music dean is Bertha Foster, owner of the Miami Conservatory, which becomes the School of Music.
In November, the Board of Trustees elects Bowman Foster Ashe as the first president. University finances are so strained during the late 1920s and the 1930s that Ashe sometimes has to pay the faculty out of his own pocket.
The team nickname “Hurricanes” first appears in an October Miami Herald story—a suggestion later attributed to football player Porter Norris, A.B. ’29.
Nine male students found the first honor society, later named Iron Arrow, based on the traditions and ideals of the Seminole Indian Tribe.
Sororities and fraternities establish chapters at the University, with 14 in the first year. Today there are 25.
The football team goes undefeated its first season, defeating the University of Havana and Rollins College within weeks after opening.

The first class of six students graduates.
The University of Miami Symphony Orchestra is formed under the baton of Arnold Volpe and serves as the community orchestra until the 1960s.
The University offers its first architecture classes, taught by Phineas Paist, Coral Gables supervising architect, and Denman Fink, art director for the city.
Two student publications begin—the Ibis yearbook and the University News, which later becomes The Miami Hurricane.

The School of Law opens after being approved by the Florida Supreme Court.
Carlotta Wright, the Uni-versity’s first Hispanic student, registers for classes. Others come soon after, and by 1931 UM hosts its first Pan American Day.

The schools of business admin-istration and education are founded.
The stock market crash and the end of the Florida land boom cause many of the University’s early supporters to declare bankruptcy and default on their pledges. Students raise funds through door-to-door solicitations to help keep the University operating.
Dale Clark and Norman Ted Kennedy compose “Hail to the Spirit of Miami U.” William Lampe and Christine Asdurian write the words and music for the alma mater, “Southern Suns and Sky Blue Water.”

The 1930s
Thirty-five graduates start the University of Miami Alumni Association.
The University of Miami becomes the only university in the world offering courses in marine zoology to undergraduate students.
The closure of the University of Havana during revolutionary activity brings more than 60 Cuban students and several professors to UM.

The first homecoming is celebrated on campus.

In the midst of the Depression, the University cuts faculty salaries by 60 percent and files a voluntary petition for bankruptcy. President Ashe and supporters incorporate UM as the University of Miami, Inc., and raise $15,758.84 to buy the University’s real and personal property at public auction. The “Inc.” is later dropped and the University reestablished as a private, not-for-profit institution.
The Winter Institute of Literature is started. The institute attracts many well-known writers, including poet Robert Frost, who returns to teach English at the University in 1944. Marjory Stoneman Douglas, author and environmentalist, is resident director in the 1940s.

The University purchases several private collections to establish a library.

Students raise more than $1,000 to paint the Anastasia Building.

W. T. Grant donates his estate on South Bayshore Drive as a president’s home. In 1974, the University obtains a new president’s home, when business executive Malcolm Matheson donates his estate on Old Cutler Road.

The Winter Institute of Hispanic Studies begins.

The 1940s
The Southern Association of Schools and Colleges grants accreditation to the University.
UM and Pan American Airways offer a training program for U.S. Army Air Corps cadets. The next year, British Air Force trainees join the U.S. cadets. The Duke of Windsor makes a surprise visit in 1941 to review the 300 British cadets.
President Ashe oversees the reorganization of the Board of Trustees, replacing faculty and administrators with community leaders.

The Graduate School opens.
The fill and rocks from the dredging of Lake Osceola on campus are sold to build the Rickenbacker Causeway—and to raise funds to build classrooms at the University.

F. G. Walton Smith establishes the Marine Laboratory, using an abandoned boathouse on Joseph Adams’ Belle Isle, Miami Beach, estate and an old motorboat, The Cypris.
The University commissions Marian I. Manley, Florida’s first woman architect, to design several buildings on campus.
Student Pancho Segura wins the NCAA men’s singles tennis championship, repeating his success in 1944 and 1945.

The GI Bill results in a flood of World War II veterans enrolling in UM and other U.S. colleges. More than half of the 1,614 regular students are service personnel.
A gift of land from Grace R. Doherty completes the Coral Gables campus site. The trustees vote to return to the original campus site.

Britain’s wartime prime minister, Sir Winston Churchill, receives an honorary Doctor of Laws.
Construction begins on the first building to be completed on the original campus site, the Oscar E. Dooly Memorial Classroom Building. Several “temporary” wooden buildings, built then to accommodate student overflow, are still in use for art programs.
The drama department stages performances in the rotunda of the Anastasia Building, creating a ring-shaped theatre. The theatre will move to a tent on the Coral Gables campus in 1950, then into its present location in 1951 as the Ring Theatre. It is renamed the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre in 1996, in honor of famed Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman, A.B. ’53.

The College of Engineering is founded. After operating in the Anastasia Building for 11 years, the college moves to its new home, the J. Neville McArthur Building, in 1958.
The Gifford Arboretum, dedicated to John Clayton Gifford, is started with more than 500 species of plants.

The half-built Merrick Building, damaged in the hurricane of 1926 and left in ruin for 22 years, is finally rebuilt and dedicated.
The University of Miami Press publishes its first book, Atlantic Coral Reefs, by F. G. Walton Smith.
The University’s new polo team wins the first of four straight national championships.

The 1950s
After the death of President Ashe, Vice President Jay F. W. Pearson serves as acting president of the University; he is named UM’s second president in 1953.
The first school of medicine in Florida is established at UM. Classes are held in space leased from the Veterans Administration in what is now the Biltmore Hotel. Jackson Memorial Hospital becomes the teaching hospital for the medical school.
The Joe and Emily Lowe Art Gallery opens. In 1968 it becomes the Lowe Art Museum.
All three student publications—the newspaper, yearbook, and Tempo magazine—are rated All-American by the National Scholastic Press Association.

The Ashe Memorial Administration Building opens.

The University initiates the Honors Program.
A portion of the new Marine Laboratory on Virginia Key is completed, enabling staff to move there from the Anastasia Building.

UM’s first ibis mascot, nicknamed Icky, appears at a football game. The mascot is later renamed Sebastian.

The University accepts its first doctoral students in ten academic disciplines.
Communist Fidel Castro becomes leader of Cuba, and a mass exodus brings thousands of Cuban exiles to Miami. UM responds by creating retraining programs in law, medicine, education, and languages. Six years later, the University establishes the Cuban Cultural Center at the John J. Koubek Memorial Center in Little Havana.

The 1960s
Campus unrest surfaces during the Civil Rights movement and peaks a decade later amid protests against the Vietnam War and for expanded women’s rights.

The Board of Trustees votes to admit qualified students of all races.

Henry King Stanford is named the third president of the University. Jay F. W. Pearson becomes the University’s first chancellor.
The Otto G. Richter Library is dedicated.
The Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is built at the School of Medicine.

The Papanicolaou Cancer Research Institute affiliates with the School of Medicine.

Worldwide recruitment for international students begins.

Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks on campus. When he is assassinated two years later, classes are canceled for a memorial service on campus.
The Norman A. Whitten Memorial Student Union is dedicated on the Coral Gables campus.

More than 2,000 international students register. The University ranks fourth in the nation in international enrollment.
The old Cardboard College is demolished to make way for a Coral Gables youth center.
Two tower dormitories open. Two follow in1968.
Coeducational housing is approved.
A student referendum reveals that 78 percent are in favor of the Vietnam War.

The School of Nursing is established.
President Stanford bans the playing of “Dixie” by the band at football games and other public events.

The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science is founded following a donation by Lewis S. Rosenstiel.
Students stage a protest against the war in Vietnam.
Student curfews are abolished.
Student representation on the Board of Trustees is initiated.

The 1970s
Students show concern for environmental issues by celebrating Earth Day with a teach-in.
The women’s golf team wins the national championship, repeating in 1972, 1977, 1978, and 1984.

The Mailman Center for Child Development, one of only 11 such centers in the nation, is formally dedicated at the School of Medicine.

The on-campus eatery The Rathskeller, soon to be dubbed “The Rat,” opens.

The Carnegie Commission lists UM among the 52 leading research universities.
UM is the first university in the nation to grant scholarships to female student athletes.
The Division of Continuing Studies, a part of the University since 1926, becomes the School of Continuing Studies.
The National Cancer Institute selects the School of Medicine as one of eight sites in the nation to open a comprehensive cancer center.
Earl W. Sutherland, Jr., winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize in medicine, is the first Nobel laureate to join the faculty.
Mark Light Field, home of the baseball team, is dedicated.
The University witnesses several minor incidents of the international phenomenon known as “streaking.”

Maurice Gusman Concert Hall opens on the Coral Gables campus.
The women’s swimming and diving team wins the first of two successive national titles.

President Stanford severs ties with Iron Arrow because of its refusal to admit women.
The University offers its first Executive M.B.A. Program in the Bahamas. By 2001, the program will graduate more than 6,000, including many top government officials.

Thirty-one students are arrested during a sit-in in the Ashe Administration Building.

Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer joins the faculty as a distinguished lecturer.

The 1980s
President Stanford retires. During his tenure, the size of the faculty nearly triples, federal research funding increases by nearly 700 percent, and the number of faculty with doctorates increases from 50 percent to 75 percent.

Edward T. Foote II becomes the University’s fourth president. He initiates long-term strategic planning to boost academic quality and a comprehensive campus landscape plan.
The University acquires from the federal government 106 acres in south Miami-Dade County near the Metrozoo, originally loaned to UM for research.

The University is granted a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society.
The James L. Knight Center, an international conference center project with the city of Miami, opens in downtown Miami.
The Hurricane baseball team wins its first national championship. The Hurricanes capture three more College World Series titles in 1985, 1999, and 2001.

The schools of architecture and international studies and the North-South Center are established.
The Hurricane football team wins its first national championship. The Hurricanes also win national titles in 1987, 1989, and 1991.

The first conversion of a dormitory into a residential college is completed, creating a “living-learning environment” in which faculty masters reside and offer educational and social programs for student residents. The University eventually establishes five residential colleges.

The University launches a $400 million fundraising campaign, at the time the third-largest campaign in American higher education.
The School of Communication is established.
Iron Arrow returns to campus after voting to admit women. Dorothy Ashe Dunn, daughter of the late President Ashe, is the first woman admitted.

James L. Knight donates $56.25 million to the University, one of the largest gifts in American education at the time. Harcourt M. and Virginia W. Sylvester give $27.5 million, then the School of Medicine’s largest gift.
Quarterback Vinny Testaverde becomes the first Hurricane football player to win the coveted Heisman Trophy.
Pulitzer Prize-winning and best-selling author James A. Michener joins the University as a distinguished visiting professor and conducts research on campus for his novel Caribbean.

The fundraising campaign reaches its $400 million goal, 21 months ahead of schedule.
UM gets “smaller and better” according to its strategic plan, as student enrollment is reduced by 2,000 and academic qualifications increase substantially. The

The capital campaign ends, raising a record $517.5 million.
The James L. Knight Physics Building opens on the Coral Gables campus.

On August 24, Hurricane Andrew strikes Miami and heavily damages the campus. The campus physical damage is estimated at $13 million. The campus is cleaned up and repaired for students to return for classes on September 14.
The Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center is dedicated at the School of Medicine.
Quarterback Gino L. Torretta wins the Heisman Trophy. Torretta, B.B.A. ’91, is elected president of the Alumni Association nine years later, in 2001.

Black graduates are honored at the University’s first Mwambo ceremony. A Chichewa word from Malawi in East Africa, “Mwambo” means ceremonial rite of passage.

The Diabetes Research Institute is established at the School of Medicine.

The George A. Smathers Student Wellness Center opens on the Coral Gables campus.

The School of Business Administration dedicates the James W. McLamore Executive Education Center and Storer Auditorium.

The University surpasses the $100 million mark in annual fundraising for the first time in its history, raising $100.6 million.
President Foote announces his retirement from the presidency, effective June 1, 2001, and becomes president emeritus and chancellor. During his tenure, freshman applications more than double, research funding more than triples, annual fundraising increases nearly fivefold, the operating budget nearly quadruples, and the endowment grows nearly tenfold.

Donna E. Shalala becomes the fifth president of UM.
The School of Medicine dedicates The Lois Pope LIFE Center, the new home of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and other research programs in the neurosciences.
The School of Communication dedicates its new home, the Frances L. Wolfson Building.
Construction begins on the Ryder Center, the future home of Miami men’s and women’s basketball and the University’s first large-capacity venue for educational, cultural, and community events.
The School of Medicine dedicates the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute, one of the largest centers in the world devoted exclusively to research in children’s health.

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