April 06, 2011 — Coral Gables — The University of Miami announced today that it has received an extraordinary lead gift of $20 million from the Fairholme Foundation to build a new, state of the art, 119,000-square-foot Student Activities Center on its Coral Gables campus.
“Student involvement has always been a vibrant part of life at the University of Miami,” said President Donna E. Shalala. “As the University continues to move up in the ranks nationally, it is facilities like this that enhance the student’s success.”
“The new Student Center Complex will provide students with an ideal home for programs, services and collaboration that will support their academic pursuits,” said Patricia A. Whitely, Vice President for Student Affairs at UM. “This magnificent and multifaceted complex will fulfill a variety of functions vital to student life at the University of Miami.”
“It is Fairholme Foundation's honor to help maintain the fantastic momentum of the University of Miami's prestigious growth under the leadership of President Shalala,” said Tracey and Bruce Berkowitz of the Fairholme Foundation. “Miami and all of Florida, benefit from UM, including great kids all over the world understanding our special city, with its rare combination of environmental and intellectual stimulation. It's all about the U and all of us at Fairholme hope that this magnificent Student Center becomes a destination for both new and old Canes to interact and help better our world.”
Among the Fairholme Foundation’s past involvement with and support for the University of Miami include: Executive Medicine, Athletics, the Launch Pad, and the Parents Fund.
Fronting UM’s Lake Osceola, the new center will include various gathering places, programming space, a student organizations suite, retail outlets and a new Rathskellar, the popular campus restaurant. At the same time the Student Activities Center is being built, the Whitten University Center will be renovated to include new public spaces, a new swimming pool deck, upgraded meeting rooms, and an enhanced terraced patio and performance stage for campus events.
During the four decades that the Whitten University Center has been in existence, the number of student organizations has increased from 121 to over 260. Designed to support student life and involvement at UM, the new Student Activities Center will provide even more programs that involve students in citizenship, leadership, community and spirit. Housed there are undergraduate student government, graduate student association and law school student organization offices. The Launch Pad, UM’s innovative entrepreneurship center, the Department of Student Activities and Student Organizations, and the William R. Butler Center for Volunteer Services and Leadership Development will also be relocated there.
Animated Rendering of the New Student Activities Center
In addition, the new center will serve as a campus communication headquarters for student news media, including award-winning publications such as The Miami Hurricane student newspaper, the IBIS yearbook, and the School of Law’s student publications.
"It's an exciting step forward for the entire student community and will have a tremendously positive impact on all future 'Canes,” said Brandon Mitchell, President of Student Government. “The new Student Activities Center and renovations to the University Center will provide more opportunities for students to better interact and will foster an even stronger sense of Hurricane pride. The UM students are truly grateful to the Fairholme Foundation for this significant gift that will enhance student life for generations to come.”
The top floor of the new Student Activities Center will hold a multipurpose room with seating for 800 and a panoramic view of the lake, and will be equipped with video and sound technologies so that banquets and other campus ceremonies can take place there. The Lakeview Terrace will provide additional space for major campus events, receptions, meetings and even small performances.
Miami-based design firm Arquitectonica and Pittsburgh-based WTW Architects are engaged in the project, which is expected to commence in June 2011 and open in August 2013.
Additional funding for the project will come from other donors and from a fee that students approved in 2006 to supplement construction, operation and maintenance of the facilities.
Media Resource: A downloadable hi-resolution rendering of the future UM Student Center may be accessed here.
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