October 08, 2010 — Coral Gables — A 1963 graduate of the University of Miami who stayed in historic Eaton Residential College as a freshman, Judi Prokop Newman remembers a UM that had no student center or swimming pool and where girls were forbidden to wear slacks and had to be in their rooms by 10 p.m.
Not long after she graduated, her alma mater evolved, building new campus facilities and changing its social fabric to coincide with the times.
But one thing was still always missing: a place that would bridge generations of alumni.
Now, UM’s graduates have a place to call their own.
In what was the biggest housewarming celebration in its young history, UM dedicated last Friday its new Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Alumni Center, cutting the ribbon to the recently completed four-story facility that is being called a home away from home for the institution’s more than 150,000 sons and daughters.
“Being a part of building this new home for alumni is the fulfillment of a commitment that brings me back full circle to where I started,” said Newman, a UM trustee who, along with her husband, Robert, provided the lead gift that made the center possible.
A crowd of more than a thousand strong—including donors, trustees, top UM administrators, faculty, students, and hundreds of alumni—turned out for the dedication of the 72,000-square-foot building, one of the first structures built as a result of the school’s $1.4 billion Momentum campaign.
Among its features, many of which were made possible by generous UM benefactors and alumni: a 7,273-square-foot ballroom with a 20-foot ceiling; the Dany Garcia and Dwayne Johnson Living Room, which includes an antique Steinway piano donated by a UM alum and a mural depicting the University’s evolution; a conference room with state-of-the-art audio visual and media equipment; the Gumenick Family Lobby, with its bronze Great Seal of the University; and the Bruce and Robbi Toll Alumni Library, which has a fireplace, alumni-authored volumes, and every copy of the UM yearbook produced since the institution’s birth.
There’s also the Arellano Construction Courtyard, donated by the president of the Miami-based construction company that built the center; the Sloane and Genevieve McCrea Business Center; and Sebastian’s Café, the idea for which originated from UM President Donna E. Shalala.
From left to right are Donna Arbide, UM associate vice president of Alumni Relations and executive director of the Alumni Association; Robert Newman; architect Michael Dennis; Judi Prokop Newman; and UM President Donna E. Shalala.
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