Thursday, April 7, 2011


Palabras del Committee of faculty and students

Miami, April 5th, 2011

Donna E. Shalala, President
University of Miami

Dear President Shalala:

We have received with surprise and indignation the news that UM officials have decided to close the Koubek Center, a bastion of Latin American culture and historical-cultural symbol of the Cuban community.

We believe that this decision is not only wrong but it is an insult to the Hispanic community. I respectfully urge the UM authorities reconsider this decision. To this end, we formally request a meeting so that the views and opinions of teachers and students of the Koubek Center may be made known.

Attached you will find a document outlining the reasons why we are strongly opposed to this measure.

We take this opportunity to offer you our greatest consideration.


Committee of faculty and students.

Let us save the Koubek Center!
Attempt to close down the Koubek Center of the University of Miami

For five decades the Koubek Center of the University of Miami has been a bastion of Hispanic-American culture and, in the specific case of the Cuban community, a historical-cultural symbol whose seed was planted by the first exiles from the 60's to grow and develop as an institution that has contributed significantly to the formation of countless generations of immigrants came to Florida in search of freedom and progress.

Therefore, we have received with surprise and indignation the news that UM authorities have decided to close the Center, citing an unconvincing combination of academic and economic reasons.

In addition, the way in which it has been reported to the Faculty has been disrespectful. Instead of an exchange with teachers, looking for opinions and even advice and help, before taking such drastic decision that not only affects both teachers and students but also the community, the faculty was notified through a letter issued by the director of the Koubek, Center Pablo Chao. The explanations in the press had a similar bias, not allowing the reporter to speak directly with those responsible for the decisions made, thus having to settle for a cold and bureaucratic statement.

We believe that the decision to close the Koubek Center is not only wrong but it is an insult to the Hispanic community. It is highly paradoxical that, at a time when locally we have indications of a remarkable demographic growth, and where nationally the strength of Hispanics in all the fields (political, scientific and cultural) is recognized, the University of Miami shuts down – so sharply and abruptly without consultation – what is valued as a "beacon of light".

With the establishment in 1965 of the Cuban Cultural Center at the John J. Koubek Memorial Center in UM - a donated mansion, precisely because a successful immigrant: John J. Koubek– which formalized ties between the University and the Cuban community.  In these years the Center opened paths to thousands of professionals, trained in graduate programs, certificates, workshops and seminars, who today occupy relevant jobs in the trade, industry, health and media.

However, no less important has been its contribution from the cultural point of view, because it has been a pioneer in organizing and sponsoring book presentations, series of conferences, lectures to young professionals and retired people, plays, films screenings, festivals, among other activities, in collaboration with prestigious local institutions such as the Pen Club, the Cuban Museum, NACAE, the Jacques Maritain Institute and the circle of culture Pan American, as well as with universities and institutions in other countries. Recognized writers, artists, musicians, scientists and cultural personalities have passed through the Koubek Center and have contributed to the empowerment of County residents, while at the same time adding to the University of Miami’s prestige.

With this treasure of background, how can this unfortunate decision, with the stroke of a pen destroy the work of so many, be explained? If it is a shift in the academic programs, why not discuss with the teachers of the Koubek Center? If the cause is the lack of funds, and even dissatisfaction with the management of the Center, why not search the same teachers - leading practitioners in the field of business - collaboration and advice?

We are emphatically opposed to the University of Miami, going against its own history, closing the Center and liquidating its educational and cultural programs. We reject the dismissive treatment to teachers and students. We will try with all our means to oppose the destruction of an institution which has been the bulwark of the Hispanic-American culture and historical-cultural symbol of the Cuban community.  There is enormous potential, based on the important legacy of the Koubek Center, to develop many more academic and cultural projects, improve the management and expand its influence in the Hispanic community of the United States and Latin America.

By this means we are requesting the support of the media, social, political and community organizations, institutions, educational and cultural, intellectuals, writers, artists, teachers and professionals to prevent that this proposal, that lacerates our work and heritage.  Collectively, we are confident in preventing the closing of the Koubek Center, a cultural jewel of the North American nation.

Committee of faculty and students

For the faculty: Dr. Emilio J. Sánchez, Alberto Muller, Raul Alvarez, Daniel Morcate, Marcos Miranda, Oscar Compain, Ernest Mitchell, Mario Tur.
For the students: Dr. Alberto Schvarzer, Juan Carlos Leon, Elsa I. Brown, Benjamin F. In Yurre, Claudia Valdeiglesias.
April 4th, 2011.

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