UM Trustee and Philanthropist has died at the age of 70. Robert “Bob” A. Mann of Fort Lauderdale, Florida passed away on Friday, October 6, 2017.
When Robert enrolled at the University of Miami in the late 1960s, the institution didn’t have a School of Communication. Back then, Mann’s area of study—radio and television broadcasting—was a department within UM’s College of Arts and Sciences. “The facilities were not great, but it was the professors who were very dedicated,” Mann once said, noting students had to work with surplus equipment from a local television station.
But despite not having the best cameras and microphones, Mann would go on to make his mark in the field of communications studies at UM, co-founding the University’s student-run radio station, WVUM, and serving as its first general manager. And even after Mann graduated and became a successful entrepreneur, his unwavering love for his alma mater would continue in the form of service and philanthropy that would impact the University in immeasurable ways.
The former president of R.A. Mann Inc. and alongside his brother, Thomas they founded U.S. Biochemical Corporation, a Cleveland, Ohio-based life science and biotechnology company, Mann gave millions to UM, saying his generosity was part of his genetic code.
Being raised and brought up by Mann’s parents allowed him to see that giving back to others would essentially become the single most rewarding thing he would ever be able to do. So, Mann made a $1 million planned gift to a School of Communication scholarship fund, designating his gift to the Samuel and Grace Mann Endowed Scholarship Fund named after his parents. The fund supports scholarships for deserving undergraduate students majoring in broadcast journalism each year.
Robert was an avid sportsman sharing a love and passion for all sports, but a particular fondness to the Miami Hurricanes. In 2015 he shared another milestone donation, giving $1 million to the Athletics Department to support Hurricanes football, basketball, baseball, and emergency needs for all student-athletes. His other contributions to Athletics include supporting the construction of Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field and the Robert A. Mann Auditorium in the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence.
But it was the School of Communication for which Mann held a special admiration. In 2002, he helped the school reach new heights, contributing $500,000 to its Communication Building Fund, which supported the construction of the International Building, a five-story, 24,600-square-foot-facility that includes state-of-the-art classrooms, a theater-style auditorium, and professionally equipped work rooms for student groups.
Bob Mann was the School of Communication’s best friend. He was chair of the visiting committee and was also campaign chair during Momentum2. He was a generous donor, a wise counselor, and a vocal champion for all school-related causes and projects.
The Schools Dean Gregory J. Shepherd said “I wondered why a guy who made his fortune in pharmaceuticals was interested in a candidate for the School of Communication deanship. I quickly discovered that he knew more about cameras, studios, radio towers, cell phones, routers, switchers, and all communication equipment and technology than most broadcast engineers. And I remember him displaying all that knowledge in our 45-minute interview not with arrogance or ego, but with eagerness and love. He was a communication guy through and through.”
Mann also gave funds to help construct the school’s Robert and Lauren Mann Broadcast Center, which opened last year in conjunction with the Koenigsberg and Nadal Interactive Media Center.
Mann was elected to UM’s Board of Trustees on October 11, 2002. He also chaired the visiting committee of Intercollegiate Athletics and served on the library’s visiting committee. He served as vice chair of both the Student Affairs and Athletic Advisory committees and served on the Academic Affairs, University Advancement, Master Planning and Construction, and Investments committees.
The Cleveland, Ohio native has been recognized numerous times for his unwavering commitment to UM. In 1968, he was tapped into Iron Arrow, one of UM’s highest honors, and was named Henry King Stanford Alumnus of the Year in 2008. He is a member of Alpha Epsilon Rho, the honor society of the National Broadcasting Society, and the Order of Omega, an honorary fraternity.
Mr. Mann is survived by his wife, Lauren; mother, Grace; brother, Thomas(Diane); nephews, William and David; niece Julie Simons and his beloved companion Penny.
A funeral service will be held 4pm today, October 8, 2017 at Temple Judea, 4311 Hood Road-Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410. (561) 624-4633 Burial will be held in the family plot at Lake iew Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio under the direction of Berkowitz-Kumin-Bookatz Funeral Home, Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
In lieu of flowers the family ask the contributions be made in Bob’s Memory to the University of Miami Hurricane Club. Note: Robert Mann Athletics Endowment; attention Jesse Marks-Sr. Associate AD at 5821 San Amaro Drive, Coral Gables, Florida 33146.