Longtime benefactors of scholarships and academic programs at the University of Miami, Bob and Judi Newman have now made a commitment to deepen the long-term connection students have with the University. With their generous gift, the recently named Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Alumni Center is well on its way to becoming a landmark building—both in purpose and style—on the Coral Gables campus.
“The minute students arrive here, it’s important to have them start thinking about their relationship with the University and their role as alumni,” says Judi Prokop Newman, B.B.A. ’63, who also is a University trustee. “A welcoming environment, a place to gather, and a place to showcase traditions of the University are all important for establishing roots.”
Judi sees her UM education as the root of so many wonderful twists and turns throughout her life. “My parents didn’t see a need for me to go to college,” says the St. Louis, Missouri, native who earned a scholarship that ultimately enabled her to attend. “It changed my life and opened my eyes to a whole different world. I received a social degree as much as an academic one.”
Armed with professional poise and valuable skills in the then-burgeoning field of machine accounting, Judi landed a job at an aerospace company in Los Angeles, which is where she met Bob. The Newmans now divide their time between Miami and Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, where Bob is founder of Greenwood Gulch Ventures, which provides financial and strategic support to technology companies. He also is cofounder and former director of a software company, J.D. Edwards, which is now Oracle, and he holds the South Florida franchise rights for GolfTEC, a golf swing analysis and instruction shop. After a 26-year career with United Airlines, Judi retired in 1995 as general manager of metrics and measurements for the computer division, responsible for “everything that supports the computer activities of the company,” she explains. “I put my education to good use.”
The couple, avid philanthropists in many cultural and academic arenas, intensified their contact with the University of Miami in the early 1990s, when they began vacationing here on a regular basis. “Virtually everyone we’ve met at the University has shown a great amount of southern hospitality,” Bob says.
Having directed much of their previous support to the School of Business Administration, the Newmans learned about the need for an alumni center. “We have a common goal in what we want this to be.”
The design elements the Newmans cite as their favorites are representative of renowned architect Michael Dennis’s strategy for creating a cozy, inviting space for working, lounging, and entertaining. “The fourth floor will have a glass room with a balcony from which The Biltmore Hotel is visible—a vista unlike any place on campus. It will be a wonderful building,” Judi says.