More than 20 years ago, a new kind of civic-minded engagement swept the nation. People called them “random acts of kindness.” A driver at a tollbooth might pay the toll for the driver behind her; today, we marvel at the kindness of a Chicago woman paying to shelter homeless neighbors during the polar vortex.
Each act of kindness is inspiring.
While such random acts of kindness always make me feel better about the world, I am also grateful when I realize that there are others for whom generosity is not random, but longstanding and purposeful. Their giving helps not just the next car in line, but generations to come.
I think about those people when I walk the University of Miami campus, which is literally built on the goodwill of others, including those who give repeatedly and significantly to help UM in its mission.
One contributor who stands out is Phillip Frost, who, together with his wife, Patricia, has been a major force in making the university a special place. Their long and consistent pattern of giving is illustrative. Their recent gift of $10 million to the Miller School of Medicine will help the school continue its innovation, discovery and clinical work, as well as educate the leaders of the next generation of physicians.
Three years ago, they made a $100 million commitment to support science and engineering at UM. Years earlier, they made a $35 million donation to the university’s highly respected music school. One of the better-known gifts in their consistent generosity made the dream of our UM-affiliated science museum a reality. It now bears their names.
Of course, Phil and Patricia have not only been generous with their money, they have also been generous with their time and talent. For example, besides donating to the university, Phil chaired the Board of Trustees — a task I personally can attest is time consuming and demanding.
Donors to the university, whether they donate $20 or $20 million, contribute from the heart — they contribute because they love the institution and they want to do their part to make a difference. Phil’s many gifts all were given from the heart, with thoughtful and charitable purpose and with the goal of sharing the rewards of his business career with fellow Miamians who may never meet him, but who will realize the benefits of his philanthropic outreach.
It is inspiring to see people give what they can and continue to give. The smallest gestures can touch us as deeply as the larger ones. Our community grows — and grows stronger — not merely because of individual achievement, but because of how our citizens use their gifts to lift others up and clear the way. I am proud to be a Miamian and privileged to know so many like Phil and Pat who help make this a better place to live and work.
It’s one of the key lessons we try to impart at the university — once you have learned, you can teach; once you have achieved, you can share. The example being set by Phillip and Patricia Frost and other like them — students, teachers, alumni, donors and others — of continuing to give back to our university and our city, is one all of us can take to heart as we think about how each of us can help the next person in line.
Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.., is chairman of the UM Board of Trustees.