By Karina Valdes
University of Miami School of Communication recently named the Robert & Lauren Mann Broadcast Center in honor of alumnus Robert “Bob” Mann, B.A. ’70, who is being recognized for his unwavering support of the university for more than 30 years. The dedication ceremony takes place on Friday, December 2, at 3:30 p.m. in the courtyard of the Frances L. Wolfson Building.
In the late 1960s, Mann stepped foot on University of Miami’s campus for the first time as an undergraduate student studying radio and television broadcast. His area of study would evolve into the School of Communication, but at that time it was a department in the College of Arts & Sciences with classes spread throughout the campus.
“The facilities were not great, but it was the professors who were very dedicated,” says Mann.
At the time, students gained hands-on experience in broadcast by working with surplus equipment from a local Television station.
“[Students] did not have a lot to work with, but a lot of the equipment in television was donated by channel 4, WTVJ, which is now 6,” says Mann.
Today, thanks in part to alumni like Mann, students studying at the School of Communication work in modern state-of-the-art facilities to perfect their craft before entering the professional world. The Robert & Lauren Mann Broadcast Center includes two HDTV broadcast studios, a sound stage for film production, an equipment room providing students with the latest technology, two control rooms, and editing suites with multiple functions.
“I think it’s very important that the students have the right and proper equipment to work with in an educational setting that they would have in a professional facility. You want them to have the best resources possible,” says Mann.
Mann began transforming education at the university as an undergraduate student. Along with two other classmates, Mann co-founded WVUM, the university’s student-run radio station, serving as its first general manager. In 1968, he was tapped into Iron Arrow, University of Miami’s highest honor.
Since graduating, Mann has supported the university in numerous efforts including gifts to construct the Communication International Building and the Koenigsberg & Nadal Interactive Media Center, which is being dedicated in conjunction with the Robert & Lauren Mann Broadcast Center. He also established the Samuel and Grace Mann Endowed Scholarship Fund in his parents’ honor to benefit undergraduate students majoring in broadcast journalism.
“I think people want to give back, generally. I think in my case it’s part of my DNA, that I was taught that by my parents. I think it’s something you can take pride in. You hope that the students appreciate us and that they learn to give back as well,” says Mann.
Mann is a member of the university’s Board of Trustees and chairs the School of Communication’s Visiting Committee. In 2008, he was named Henry King Stanford Alumnus of the Year. He is a member of Alpha Epsilon Rho, the honor society of the National Broadcasting Society, and the Order of Omega, an honorary fraternity.
“I take a look around at the facilities and I’m very proud. I think that now we are giving students equal footing to go out there and get jobs.”
“I think that Dean Shepherd has done a wonderful job in taking the school to another level,” he added “and making us very competitive on that national level with high-rated peer schools.”