Robert Earle Dooley took the podium to a standing room only crowd at last night’s building dedication armed with a pocketful of quips and jokes: about being 91 years old, being a lawyer, speaking to a captive audience, and about being the other Dooley at the University of Miami (Dooly Memorial is not a relative).
President Julio Frenk, Robert Dooley and Dean Patricia White
"They asked me to say a few words; you don't just say that to a lawyer," Dooley said, "because he will eat the microphone.
"This will only take a little while. Some of you have a bus going back, but I'm on it, so you can't leave until I'm done," he said, pulling out four pages of single space "remarks" from his coat pocket.
The 1953 law alumnus recently made a gift of $1.1 million to the University of Miami School of Law that will be used to endow a named scholarship and support a fund that encourages the promotion of faculty research and teaching innovation.
"The loyalty, commitment, and enthusiasm of our donors are at the core of the University’s efforts to implement a bold strategic vision as we approach our 100th birthday—now just seven years away," said UM President Julio Frenk. "The philanthropy of Bob and donors like him makes it possible to recruit and retain high-quality academic talent, to advance groundbreaking research and scholarship, to deliver world-class patient care, and to position the University of Miami as a truly global institution."
The “C” building, which houses the Dean’s Office Suite and Alumni Offices, is now named in his honor.
“Bob Dooley’s wonderful gift will make a lasting difference and allow us to invest in innovative faculty work as well as provide needed scholarship support for deserving students,” said Patricia D. White, dean of the School of Law. In turn, White bestowed upon Dooley a commissioned Ibis sculpture created by the Everglades artist Eric Berg.
"I know firsthand the power that philanthropy has to change someone's life," said Elizabeth Montano, editor-in-chief of the University of Miami Law Review, where an editor will receive a scholarship annually. "Because of the transformative generosity of donors like Mr. Dooley, students like me are able to pursue a legal education and career without the overwhelming financial burden that would have kept us from ever realizing this dream."
Montano presented Dooley with an engraved leather-bound volume containing all the articles and comments that Dooley worked on for the law review as a student as well as the article that he wrote and was published in volume six.
The retired attorney and real estate developer served as executive editor of The Lawyer, a student publication, and leading article editor and comments editor in 1953 of the Miami Law Quarterly, the precursor of The University of Miami Law Review at Miami Law.
A Chicago native, Dooley enrolled at the University of Miami as an undergraduate, but thanks to a classmate who suggested he become an attorney to “defend the world,” he quickly switched to the School of Law.
Dooley, who graduated magna cum laude and second in his class, returned to Illinois to practice law and work as an insurance and real estate broker. Tired of the harsh winters, he moved back to South Florida in 1967, where he settled in Fort Lauderdale and focused his law practice on real estate, wills and trusts, probate, workers’ compensation, and personal injury. He also built and developed residential and commercial properties in the South Florida area.
A member of the University of Miami’s Citizens Board for more than 30 years, Dooley has also been a generous supporter of the board, Hurricane athletics, and the Diabetes Research Institute at the Miller School of Medicine in addition to the law school.
He has a long history of involvement in the Fort Lauderdale community, where he served as governor of the Broward County Trial Lawyers Association and was a former member of the Broward County Estate Planning Council, and an elder and deacon of the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale.
Dooley's speech focused on things about the law school, changed and unchanged: "There is one thing that hasn't changed in all these years; the determination by the School of Law to educate and produce the finest lawyers, the finest jurists, the finest professors of law, and leaders of industry, business, and government, not only in Florida but all over the globe and throughout the country."