Thoughts on the University of Miami’s changing reputation

Matt Hall

Matt Hall visited UM when he was a senior in high school. After his tour, he knew he had to come here. “There were so many hot girls in my tour group.” Now, as Matt is ready to graduate this spring, he does not see the same school he came to. “With our rising standards and Shalala trying to make it a good school, we’re getting smarter and less attractive, and it’s so disappointing.” Matt is graduating with one question: “Donna, what are you doing to our school?”

Rachel Spangenthal

Rachel Spangenthal, a junior, is excited for UM to move from its current spot at 52 and break the top 50 in the U.S. News and World Report college rankings. “It used to be when you thought of UM, you thought of sports like our football team, but now our academics are so good,” Spangenthal said, hoping people recognize this in the future. “We’re actually about academics and doing well for our community,” she said. “There are great things happening, it’s not just about partying.”

Melissa Keller

Melissa Keller, an ’76 alum, recalls her time at UM as the “era of the streakers.” Keller remembers looking out her dorm window and seeing people run by naked. “Someone would always shout ‘streaker!’ and we would see some naked bodies running by,” she said. She remembers the streakers always being very tan. “Maybe that’s a reason UM is still referred to as ‘Suntan U.'”

Donna E. Shalala

President Shalala says she has seen the university change tremendously as the rankings indicate. It has moved from 66 to 52 since she has been president. “We don’t admit thugs anymore. We do admit people that like to suntan, but those students are usually in the sun with a book in hand, and I think that’s a difference people overlook,” Shalala said. Right now UM is ranked at 52 and the University of Florida is ranked at 50, according to U.S. News & World Report. One of Shalala’s goals is to not only get into the top 50, but to do so before the football game in fall, so “UM can beat UF twice.”

In the original printing of this story on April 28, 2008, the section currently attributed to Melissa Keller was mistakenly attributed to Ron Zelhof. We apologize for the error.