University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School Prepares to Launch Historic Academic Year

First-ever undergrads in 65-year history, largest graduate class in over a decade mark beginning of new day


Virginia Key, Fla. (August 20, 2008) — The launch of the 2008-2009 academic year at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science marks a historic milestone for the School.  For the first time in the School’s 65 year history it will welcome a new class of both graduate and undergraduate students. After 30 years of conducting undergraduate education jointly with the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, UM President Donna Shalala shifted the full administration of the undergraduate Marine and Atmospheric Science (MSC) program, as well as those in Marine Affairs and Meteorology, to the Rosenstiel School.  The transfer gives the Rosenstiel School, one of the nation’s leading research institutions in marine and atmospheric science, the opportunity to confer undergraduate degrees and integrate these 95 students into the scientific community earlier in their academic careers.

The School has offered graduate degrees for over half a century, however, its entering class of 52 students is the largest class at the Rosenstiel School since 1994.  The new students who join the Rosenstiel community — 35 domestic and 17 international - were selected from a highly talented applicant pool, through a rigorous selection process that focused on their qualifications, as well as their individual research interests.

“The students and researchers who join the Rosenstiel School this fall are among the best of the best.  This year an unprecedented number of undergraduate students (five) received American Meteorological Society fellowships and scholarships, while five of their classmates received NOAA’s Ernest F. Hollings Scholar awards,” said Dr. Otis Brown, dean of the Rosenstiel School.   “Our graduate students also continue to garner accolades for their work, and receive prestigious fellowships from the NSF, NASA, and other federal agencies, which fund and support the high caliber of education provided here at the University of Miami.”

To deal with the larger academic program, the Rosenstiel School has combined its Graduate Studies Office with the Undergraduate Marine and Atmospheric Science Program Office, to create a new department of Academic Affairs, led by Associate Dean, Dr. Larry Peterson.  Dr. Chidong Zhang of the Division of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, and Dr. Sharon Smith of the Division of Marine Biology and Fisheries have been appointed assistant deans for Graduate Studies and Undergraduate Studies, respectively. Dr. Daniel DiResta will continue to serve as MSC program director, while Dr. Brian Soden will be program coordinator for Meteorology, and Maria Villanueva will remain as program coordinator for undergraduate Marine Affairs.

“The fact that this graduate class is larger than previous ones speaks to the relevance of environmental science and policy in today’s world, and students’ eagerness to better understand our planet and help improve our quality of life. We look forward to welcoming our graduate student body, and we are also pleased to be a part of this historic moment, where 95 talented students will be the first undergraduates to call Rosenstiel their ‘home school’ from their first day on campus,” Brown added.

About the Rosenstiel School
Founded in the 1940's, the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world's premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life.  For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:

Barbra Gonzalez
UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Marie Guma-Diaz
UM Media Relations Office