Diversity Timeline



  • 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. On October 15, 1926, the first students register and classes start on October 18.
  • Bertha M. Foster becomes the University of Miami's head of the Music School. She is the first person and first woman at the University to be designated director of a school.
  • A suggestion made early in the year by President Ashe was to have a men's honorary and service fraternity adapted to the University. The result was Iron Arrow, whose ritual is based on Seminole Indian practice and tradition and whose members wear Seminole jackets on all ritual occasions. The purpose of the society was to honor those male students who had contributed significantly to the "glory, fame & growth" of the University of Miami.
  • The first class of six students, four women and two men graduates.
  • The University of Miami Symphony Orchestra is formed under the baton of Arnold Volpe, a Lithuanian born American composer.
  • Carlotta Wright, the University of Miami's first Hispanic student, registers for classes in the fall of 1928. Two years later, in 1930, Fernando Belaunde-Terry came from Peru and Jose Benavides from Havana. In 1932 The Miami Rotary Club brought its first exchange scholarship student, Luis Montero, from Lima, Peru to study business administration. In 1933, he was the only Latin student at the University after Belaunde-Terry left for Texas to complete his studies in architecture.
  • The Winter Institute of Hispanic Studies begins.
  • The University of Miami cancels a home football game with UCLA because UCLA had four African American players on the team; Jackie Robinson, All-American and future NFL pro Kenny Washington, future actor Woody Strode, and lineman Ray Bartlett were all on this UCLA squad.
  • Ecuadorian, Pancho Segura was sent to the United States as a player for the University of Miami where he won three straight NCAA single championships from 1942 to 1944.
  • The GI Bill results in a flood of World War II veterans enrolling in University of Miami and other U.S. colleges. More than half of the 1,614 regular students are service personnel. The first veteran to register was Melvin Edward Whitmire.
  • The University refuses to play Penn State in football because African Americans played for the Nittany Lions. While the University resisted integrating, the football team did eventually play the University of Iowa in 1950 at a home game in the Orange Bowl, which was the first time a college football team with African American players had ever played a game in the Deep South.

1950 - 1979

  • On September 26, Dr. Lester R. Wheeler, director of the Reading Clinic, began teaching the first University of Miami class for African Americans at Booker T. Washington High School. It was Education 528 "Techniques in Diagnostic Reading," a two-credit course. Thus, the University was teaching off-campus courses for African Americans ten years before the campus was desegregated.
  • There were 28 students (26 men and 2 women) that were selected from 500 applicants to make up the first class at the University of Miami School of Medicine. In 1956, the first class of 26 medical doctors graduated from the School of Medicine. The class was comprised of 23 men and 3 women - Drs. Margaret Crawford, Kathleen Everitt, and Elaine Ross.
  • On July 2, the trustees approved a policy that the School of Medicine accepts for processing any application for admission to said School of Medicine "from any citizen of Florida who meets the requirements under the bill granting a subsidy to the University of Miami."
  • On April 18 the student newspaper, the Hurricane, reported that the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) had adopted, by a vote of 14-11, a resolution calling for the desegregation of the University of Miami.
  • Communist Fidel Castro becomes leader of Cuba, and a mass exodus brings thousands of Cuban exiles to Miami. The University 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. Cuban Cultural Center is established at the Koubek Memorial Center to help recently arrived Cuban exiles adjust to life in the United States. Many refugees participated in the vocational and cultural programs offered at the Center. To this day, the Koubek Center continues to provide cultural and educational programs to the community.
  • On January 31 the Board of Trustees voted to admit qualified students without regard to race or color beginning in the summer of 1961. For the first time African American students attended classes that summer on the Coral Gables campus, and were allowed full participation in student activities and sports teams. Benny O'Berry was the first African American to enroll in classes on the Coral Gables campus. O'Berry went on to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in the School of Education and received his diploma in 1962 at the age of 46.
  • A Medical Training Program was developed at the University of Miami School of Medicine for Latin America. The program trained select physicians and students from Latin America, who then returned to improve medicine in their countries and influence their medical communities through education and leadership.
  • Ray Bellamy becomes the first African American football player for the University of Miami. With Bellamy, the University becomes the first major college in the Deep South with an African American football player on scholarship. Later in 1972, Bellamy becomes the first African American to be elected president of the student body.
  • In May, all foreign student groups organized in the Council of International Student Organizations (COISO) began to observe International Students Week. By 1967, the University of Miami had registered more than 2,000 foreign students, making if fourth in the nation.
  • The Federation of Cuban Students was founded. By 1970 there were approximately 1,500 Cuban exile students attending the University of Miami. The Federation of Cuban Students is still active today and promotes cultural awareness of Cuban traditions, history, music, and current events.
  • The University of Miami extends formal recognition to United Black Students (UBS) organized and led by Harold Long and Willard Butler. African American students found in UBS some of the identity, social life, communication and group action that they sought.
  • On May 14, fourteen frustrated African American students occupied the outer office of the president's suite in the Ashe Building in protest that progress was too slow regarding USB's list of proposals to President Standford for more African American students, professors and inclusion of Afro-American studies in the curriculum.
  • Chester A. Byrd had become associate director of student activities and counselor to African American students, the first African American appointed to an administrative office.
  • The University of Miami files an affirmative action program with the Health Education and Welfare (HEW) office in Atlanta, GA, setting forth the steps it would take to achieve equal rights for minorities.
  • The first African American professors hired at the University of Miami were Dr. Whittington B. Johnson, Department of History, and Mr. Joseph Middlebrooks in Architecture.
  • Dr. James E. Cheek was the first African American to become a member of the University's Board of Trustees. He served on the University's Board from 1971-1976. He was a wise and helpful counselor to the trustees and administration as the University struggled with the many complex and sensitive issues facing African American students and faculty.
  • Alpha Phi Alpha became the first social fraternity for African Americans. It got associate membership in the Interfraternity Council and a dormitory section for its members.
  • Eleven women form the University of Miami's Women Commission. The Women's Commission is concerned with reviewing policies, procedures and attitudes that affect the status of women at the University.
  • The University of Miami's Ibis yearbook reported that the UBS goals of involvement was being realized and listed a series of first for the 1971-1972 school year, including the first woman chairperson of UBS, Vaughncill Molden. Molden sponsored the first orientation week for African American students and 1972 was also the first time that African American students received academic achievement awards. Additionally during this time, the USB gained an ex officio seat in the USG Senate.
  • A small group of African American administrators and faculty concerned with issues faced by African American students and employees at the University started the Woodson-Williams-Marshall Association (WWMA). It is named in the honor of three outstanding contributors to the African American experience: Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History Month; Daniel H. Williams, the Black pioneer in the field of heart surgery; and Thurgood Marshall, the first African American appointed to the United States Supreme Court. The University of Miami Alumni Association/Black Alumni Society and the Woodson Williams Marshall Association (WWMA) are committed to serving and uniting African and African American alumni for the purpose of advancing the interests of the University, while recruiting, mentoring and retaining students of African descent in all academic fields.
  • The Women's Commission issued a report on the status of women at the University and made a number or recommendations. The report listed differences in numbers, salary, rank, tenure and committee appointments as well as general attitudes. The results were the University's first female commencement speaker, Dr. Rita Hauser, attorney and representative to the United Nations; the creation of a day care center at the Episcopalian Church on the Coral Gables campus; and a Minor in Women's Studies.
  • Soia Mentschikoff was the first female dean at the University of Miami. Mentschikoff was an American lawyer, law professor, and legal scholar, best known for her work in the development and drafting of the Uniform Commercial Code. She was also the first woman to teach at Harvard Law School and the second woman to head a nationally accredited law school.
  • The feminist movement challenged Iron Arrow's policy of not admitting women. Although a number of votes were taken by the tribe on several occasions to allow women, all failed and as a result of Iron Arrow's resistance, the University severs its ties with the tribe.
  • Dr. Catherine Anne Poole becomes the first woman to chair a medical school department of radiology in the United States when she was named to that position at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

1980 - 2009

  • A motion to allow women into Iron Arrow was passed and the tribe returned to the University as "The Highest Honor Attained at the University of Miami." The tribe tapped the first woman, Dorothy Ashe-Dunn, into Iron Arrow on February 28, 1985.
  • Italian-American quarterback Vinny Testaverde becomes the first Hurricane football player to win the coveted Heisman Trophy.
  • East African student, Patrick A. Masala establishes the Senior Mwambo Ceremony. The Senior Mwambo is an African rite of passage ceremony that marks the transition of African American graduates from their lives at the University to advanced education and professional careers. African American graduates were honored at the first Mwambo ceremony in 1993.
  • Donna E. Shalala became the fifth and first woman president of the University of Miami on June 1. President Shalala is an accomplished scholar, teacher, and administrator whose career has been marked by a variety of leadership positions reflecting her interest in young people.
  • The University of Miami's first African American dean is Dr. James Wyche, an established biology professor and researcher and was also appointed Vice Provost by President Shalala. He holds a PhD in biology from John Hopkins University, an M.A. from Brown University and a B.S. from Cornell University.
  • The University of Miami's African American Alumni Society and the United African American Students held a special tribute reception for Benny O'Berry, the first African American to enroll and graduate from the University.
  • The University of Miami launches SEEDS (Scientist and Engineers Expanding Diversity and Success), an initiative to boost the number of women and minority faculty. SEEDS orchestrates grass-roots efforts to study and improve climate and policies for programs designed to increase opportunities for all scientists and engineers at the University.

2010 to Present

  • UM was ranked No. 1 in "Race/Class Interaction" in the 2011 edition of The Princeton Review's popular guidebook, The Best 373 Colleges.
  • The Hispanic Business 2010 Diversity Report named three University of Miami graduate schools among the top Ten U.S. Schools for Hispanic students. Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, ranked among the top five by Hispanic Business for the past five years, garnered the second spot for the second year in a row.
  • UM's School of Business Administration is ranked No. 4 in the nation. The school's full-time faculty is more than 20 percent Hispanic, and nearly a quarter of its full-time M.B.A. class of 2008 was Hispanic.
  • UM's School of Law-one of the nation's main educators of bilingual law students-went up three slots from last year to become No. 3 in the ranking.
  • The University created the Veterans Student Task Force as the first campus initiative to improve the experiences of veteran students.
  • The University created the LGBTQ Task Force to continually review and implemented its recommendations in order to make our campuses more welcoming for all students, faculty, and staff.
  • UHealth became the first academic medical center in the world to use the new da Vinci Xi Surgical System, putting Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the leading edge of minimally invasive, robotic-assisted surgery for the treatment of urologic cancers.
  • President Donna E. Shalala established the University of Miami President’s Coalition on Sexual Violence Prevention and Education to help ensure a broad cross-section of UM community involvement, collaboration, and information sharing, The Coalition consists of 30 UM faculty and administrators, and 25 students.
  • The University of Miami launched employee resource groups (ERGs). ERG’s, also known as peer networks, are groups of employees who join together in their workplace based on shared characteristics or life experiences. They are designed to create a more inclusive work environment, one that encourages members to truly be themselves. ERGs include groups for people with disabilities, LGBTQ, Asians, veterans, millennials, and Ubuntu (African/Caribbean).
  • The University defined its culture by its Common Purpose: At the U, we transform lives through teaching, research, and service. The University now can rally behind its Common Purpose and bring it to life through DIRECCT, (Diversity, Integrity, Responsibility, Excellence, Compassion, Creativity, Teamwork), the set of values and behaviors that have been embraced.
  • Dr. Julio Frenk, Dean at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Mexico’s former minister of health, was named the University’s sixth president and the University's first Hispanic president.
  • Offensive comments appearing on an anonymous social media platform following a 2014 Black Lives Matter student march sparked the creation of the Presidential Task Force for Addressing Black Students Concerns.
  • The University honored 22 graduating LGBTQ students and allies by hosting the inaugural Lavender Celebration, where graduating students were recognized for their leadership, achievements, and contributions to our community.
  • University of Miami Hospital, the flagship hospital for UHealth-University of Miami Health System, has been recognized as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization.
  • President Julio Frenk outlined the Roadmap to Our New Century. President Frenk shared four defining visions for UM's future: to be the hemispheric university; the excellent university; the relevant university; and the exemplary university.
  • The University of Miami has announced that it will increase the resources available to support students of all gender identities and sexual orientations by establishing a dedicated center on campus.
  • The Culture of Belonging communication strategy and implementation was launched. The Culture of Belonging working group will explore strategies for enhancing an environment of inclusion on campus. The group will recommend actions that can create a campus where all members of the University community feel valued and have the opportunity to add value.
  • The University of Miami creates the LGBTQ Student Center, housed in the Division of Student Affairs. The center supports the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning students and allies.
  • The University is ranked No. 12 in the nation by the Princeton Review 2017 for “Lots of Race/Class Interaction,” with its location in the “Gateway of the Americas,” a diverse student body hailing from 50 states and 124 foreign countries, and 25- plus multicultural student groups on campus.


  • Henri R. Ford, M.D., became dean of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine on June 1, 2018. Dr. Ford is a Haitian-born pediatric surgeon who maintains close ties with his native country.