Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

Giving grandly


OUR OPINION: Herbert Wertheim’s $10 million donation to FIU will do a lot of good for South Florida

Nicole and Herbert Wertheim are benefactors of Florida International University.
Nicole and Herbert Wertheim are benefactors of Florida International University.

It’s one more sign that greater Miami has come of age. Used to be philanthropists who resided here gave their money, their art, and their names on the buildings up there — the northern or Midwestern cities of their birth. This week, Herbert Wertheim, an optometrist and business man — already a South Florida benefactor — continued the tradition of doing good in his own back yard.

On Wednesday, Florida International University announced Mr. Wertheim’s gift of $10 million to its college of nursing and health sciences. The contribution is to honor his wife, Nicole, and it follows his $20-million commitment to FIU’s relatively new school of medicine.

The Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences will join the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine on FIU’s campus. Together, the institutions will ultimately make a significant contribution to this entire community’s health.

The gifts will provide so much, including endowed professorships in the areas of pain management, disease prevention and mental health; seed money for innovative, hard-to-fund research; scholarships for students completing clinical doctorates in physical therapy and nursing; and support for the preparation of advanced registered nurse practitioners, and to encourage study of other disciplines, like speech and occupational therapy, to establish clinical doctoral programs.

Mr. Wertheim’s generosity joins that of others, both homegrown and loyal transplants, who have given much to ensure that greater Miami is a dynamic place that can sustain arts and culture, such as Jorge Perez and Adrienne Arsht, among many others. And to cultivate the talents of our youth — for instance, South Floridian Penny Stamps, a former interior designer, gives millions for education, including full scholarships to 19 music students at the University of Miami. And now, as Mr. Wertheim has demonstrated, to help Miami become a healthier place to live.

Of course, philanthropy doesn’t always mean writing a check for millions, however welcome that is. Annual events in South Florida, such as Philanthrofest, work to match-make local artists, nonprofits and businesses with volunteers and financial sponsors. Grants have been harder to come by, and the economy, though better, has not come roaring back. But too many girls and boys remain at risk; diseases, hunger, illiteracy persist — and so does the need for civic engagement. It’s a way for South Floridians to give back — and they should — by donating their time, or writing more checks, even with far fewer zeroes.

With so much need here, those are welcome, too.

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