Research assistance for Distraction Magazine

Distraction, February 2016 article on UM history

Distraction February 2016 article on UM History

We were happy to discover the two articles “Retro Miami: The History of UM” and “Bridging The Gap: Colored Students Were Not Allowed at the University of Miami Until 1961” in the February 2016 issue of Distraction Magazine, as we provided research assistance for their student journalists who wrote the stories.

The University Archives have been working closely with student journalists of The Miami Hurricane and IBIS by providing research assistance on UM history, archiving their publications from the first issue in 1927 to present, and making them accessible online for the UM community to research news and events as well as understand students and campus life from the past.

Please go to the link below for our digital collection of UM’s historical resources. Please do not hesitate to contact us for research and archival assistance for your organizational records and publications.

University of Miami Archives Digital Collections

Distraction February 2016 article on diversity at the U

Distraction February 2016 article on diversity at the U

Congrats Carlos! Our former student assistant’s success in music

Carlos Fernando Lopez (right) with Ricky Martin and producers in Puerto Rico

Carlos Fernando Lopez (right) with Ricky Martin and producers in Puerto Rico

We would like to share with you this wonderful news about our former student assistant Carlos Fernando Lopez, who called last week and told me that he worked for Ricky Martin’s 10th studio album “A Quien Quiera Escuchar,” which won Grammy Award for Best Latin Pop Album at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards. You can find his name everywhere in the album credits as arranger, programmer, recording engineer, piano player, and even as background vocalist!

Carlos worked for us from 2010 to 2012 on digital projects while studying for his master’s degree in music at the Frost School of Music. He is not only a talented musician, but also was an excellent student assistant for us who was instrumental in figuring out how to improve productivity and accuracy at the beginning of our biggest in-house digital project at the time. Digitizing over million pages of documents and printed materials from the Office of the President Records seemed like a daunting task for everyone involved in the project at Richter, but our student assistants led by Carlos and supervised by Digital Production colleagues figured out a new way to scan a large amount of documents in high speed with quality that helped us achieve the goal.

It was not easy for him to go to school while raising a family of two beautiful children with his talented pianist wife, Laura. He has told us he liked working for the Archives because the position provided him a stable employment and flexible work schedule. I think he also got to like his alma mater more by working for us because he discovered amazing stories and people at the University while working on archival projects. Congrats Carlos on your great accomplishment!

Ricky Martin's Album "A Quien Quiera Escuchar."

Ricky Martin’s Album “A Quien Quiera Escuchar.”

Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On

By David Colbus, Senior in the College of Arts and Sciences
Student Assistant, University Archives

Throughout last fall, the University Archives worked to curate and install the Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On exhibit on Richter Library’s first floor. This was the first exhibit I encountered as a new University Archives assistant. To introduce me to the Archives’ work and purpose, my supervisor Marcia Heath gave me a tour of the recently completed display. The exhibit celebrates Pan Americanism, the University’s 90 years of history, and the new president, Dr. Julio Frenk. Beyond teaching me about my new role in the Archives, this exhibit educated me on the University’s history, and how that history informs the institution it is today.


“Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On,” located on the first floor of the Otto G. Richter Library, features historical materials dating back to UM’s founding years. Photo by Andrew Innerarity.

The exhibit tells us that “Before there were University of Miami students or faculty, defined programs, or even a single building, the enduring concept of UM as the Pan American University had taken form.” Congressman William Jennings Bryan dreamed up this concept, one George Merrick and other founding members of the University strongly shared. Merrick envisioned a “university of our own tropical America…to supply that definite unfilled need of a cultural contact by university facilities with all of Latin America.” This Pan American University would invite cultural and academic exchange across all the Americas. This ideal informed the University’s earliest programs, research focuses, and even the University’s original architectural design. Victor and Rafael Belaúnde were specifically recruited to teach Latin American history and economics, and their establishment of the University’s Hispanic American Studies and Hispanic American Institute set the stage for many of today’s Hispanic-focused programs. The University of Miami also maintained close academic contact with the University of Havana through its early years to facilitate the academic exchange that Pan Americanism called for.


Photo featured in the exhibition of UM drama students outside of the capitol building in Havana, Cuba, c. 1950s, from the University Archives.

University Archivist Koichi Tasa came up with the vision for the exhibit and served as its chief curator, culling records from the Office of the President Records as well as visual materials from the UM Historical Photograph Collection and UM Campus Architecture Collection, among others from the University Archives.  “It’s a great occasion to showcase our collections and knowledge about UM’s history,” Tasa said.

Archives specialist Marcia Heath worked with Tasa in research for the exhibit, and supervised the Archives’ assistants in their tasks. “We have an opportunity to start and frame important discussions about history, culture, and diversity in our community,” Heath said. “This resource encourages students to broaden their horizons.”

The exhibit was a collaborative effort within the UM Libraries and beyond: Beatrice Skokan and Yvette Yurubi from the Special Collections department and Meiyolet Mendez from the Cuban Heritage Collection researched and provided materials on topics such as the founding of Coral Gables and friendship between UM and the University of Havana. The Library Communications team provided editorial and promotional assistance for the exhibition. They also worked with local artist and UM alum Alex Vahan (Cushy Gigs, Inc.) in the creation of an eye-catching photographic collage surrounding the exhibition space.

Archives’ student assistants Jodiann Heron, Davin Stencil, Cody Andreoni, Sabrina Anand, and I located and researched materials for the exhibit. “What I really like is learning so much about the University. Every single day you learn something different,” Heron said. When I looked through the display cases, I remember being amazed by the complexity and importance of the exhibit. Yes, the exhibit focuses on the cornerstone idea of Pan Americanism and the University of Miami’s close ties to Latin America, following through the University’s creation and history, as well as into the modern day. However, it also locates one of the University’s greatest strengths, our diversity, within that original idea of Pan Americanism. It shows how the University’s devotion to broader understandings of cultural acceptance, of diversity, of peace and equality, stem from this one idea.


Local artist and UM alum Alex Vahan (Cushy Gigs, Inc.) created the historical wall design for the exhibition space using digitized archival materials. Photo by Andrew Innerarity.

This exhibit represents the University Archives in capacity and purpose, and represents its role they could play for the future. Looking forward to 2025, the University will be celebrating its 100th anniversary. The University Archives will play an integral role of this celebration, showing the growth and evolution of our University from the ideals that it was founded upon. I hope that all of the University of Miami, every department and office, helps us in this endeavor. “If anyone in the University wants to celebrate their anniversary, the Archives are here to work with them,” Tasa said. When the centennial celebrations arrive, everyone at this university, everyone who has contributed to its achievements and shaped its reputation, deserve to be celebrated as a part of that history, so that their efforts and accomplishments are remembered, and their spirit and ideals are passed on for those to come.

The exhibition “The Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On” is on view on the first floor of Otto G. Richter Library through May 2016.

Remembering President Foote at the University Archives


Edward T. Foote, 4th President of the University of Miami

Written by Koichi Tasa and Sarah Block

Staff at the University Archives were saddened by the news of President Foote’s passing on Monday. University Archivist Koichi Tasa and Archives Assistant Marcia Heath each have fond memories of assisting the former president with archival materials during his tenure.

“President Foote was a very kind person who was always willing to give his time and knowledge to help others,” says Heath, who helped the former president contribute materials to his presidential archive from 2002 to 2008.

Tasa got to know President Foote in 2010 when he contacted the Archives for assistance in accessing his papers. “He was a very important leader for the U and for our local community,” Tasa said. “We would like to express our sincere condolences to the family.”

A summary of Foote’s legacy is featured in the current exhibition Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On, located on the first floor of Otto G. Richter Library:

During the time that Edward T. “Tad” Foote II was formally named the fourth president of the University of Miami, South Florida was in the midst of a crisis. Social instability shook many parts of Miami following a rapid surge in immigration with the Mariel boatlift from Cuba as well as race riots over the death of Arthur McDuffie, both of which occurred in 1980.

Foote, seemingly undaunted by the area’s problems, saw only the opportunity for UM to work closer with the community. In his inauguration speech, he spoke of creating a special task force at UM to examine how the University could offer any assistance to those working to solve immediate community problems. It was also Foote who beautified the campus itself, developing a comprehensive landscape plan for the University that would transform it into a magnificent botanical garden—a living laboratory.

President Foote’s presidential papers, preserved by the University Archives, will be available to the public after 2030 upon approval of the Office of the President.

Case 7 of the Richter Exhibition "Pan American University" dedicated to President Foote

Case  dedicated to President Foote in Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On, on view at Richter Library.