Hillel President Wayne L. Firestone and University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala at a Miami homecoming reception.
I wish that every college alumnus could have the homecoming that I enjoyed last week at the University of Miami. University President Donna Shalala hosted a warm and celebratory reception for more than 250 friends and supporters of the university in her official residence on the occasion of my appointment as president of Hillel.
The event demonstrated the close and mutually supportive relationship between the university and the Hillel. At the most basic level, the presence of Hillel on the Miami campus provides Jewish students with an outlet for their Jewish identity. When I attended the school, Hillel and the university supported my efforts to raise awareness about Soviet Jewry. That activism translated into a career in law, business and Jewish communal leadership. I owe a debt of gratitude to the university and to its Hillel.
The reception also demonstrated the intimate ties between Jewish leaders and the university. Miami Hillel Director Joel Berger worked with the office of the university president and alumni affairs to arrange the event. University trustees, federation leaders and donors attended the reception. I am pleased that they take pride in my appointment.
But the event wasn’t just about the past. Its real value is in how it will strengthen Hillel and the university in the future. The reception advanced our Strategic Plan goal of being an “indispensable partner in enhancing student life” on every campus.
I urge all Hillel volunteer leaders and professionals to consider creating similar events honoring prominent Jewish alumni with their university presidents that bring together Hillel, campus and community leadership to advance their mutual goals.
Wayne L. Firestone