Roberta ‘Bosey’ Fulbright Foote Prize

The Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote Prize recognizes a member of the UM community—faculty, staff, student, or trustee—who has made a meaningful and lasting contribution to the beauty, humanity, and future of the campus. 

The Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote Prize recognizes a member of the UM community—faculty, staff, student, or trustee—who has made a meaningful and lasting contribution to the beauty, humanity, and future of the campus. 

Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote came to Miami in 1981, when her husband, Edward T. “Tad” Foote II, became the fourth president of the University of Miami. While President Foote set his sights on building the University’s academic and financial strengths, Bosey set hers on growing its natural beauty. She knew that the setting must contribute to the institution’s mission.

Working closely with Margaret Hatcher, Robert Parsley, and Geomantic Designs, as well as with the UM architecture and design faculty and buildings and grounds team, Bosey put herself into almost every leaf, blade, frond, and flower that now flourishes on campus. She was an ardent supporter of the University’s John C. Gifford Arboretum, a collection of rare plants and trees maintained for educational and research purposes and to inspire an appreciation for tropical vegetation. She opened a series of palmetums featuring palms and cycads from several countries. Her efforts continue to make buildings brighter, vistas more colorful and textured, and breezeways, walkways, and seating areas more inviting.

UM President Julio Frenk is pleased to present the Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote Prize in her honor to a member of the UM community—faculty, staff, student, or trustee—who has made a meaningful and lasting contribution to the beauty, humanity, and future of the campus. 

How to nominate

Past recipients


2021 Recipient

A former U.S. ambassador to Iceland, Charles “Chuck” Cobb is a deeply committed member and former Chair of the University of Miami Board of Trustees. In fact, he has been the chairman, vice chairman, or past chairman of the UM Board for over 35 years, and he was one of the trustees on the search committee that selected our fourth president, Edward T. Foote, and brought the Foote family to Miami.

In Tad Foote, Ambassador Cobb noted one key quality that the board sought in selecting the president: to be a “leader of change.” The willingness to think differently in order to make a difference is something the Footes have in common with the Cobbs.

Throughout his career in community development and international trade policy, Ambassador Cobb has been forward-thinking, and as a leader at the University he has embraced the importance of landscaping and campus beautification in making our campus environment inviting and sustainable. Ambassador Cobb’s selection for the Bosey Foote Prize captures how steadfast dedication to service can have a lasting impact.

The other recipient of this year’s prize embodies the exciting future of our involvement in caring for the planet we all share. Our student recipient is junior Sofia Mesa, chair of Student Government’s ECO Agency and sustainability director of UThrift, our campus’ thrift swap, which aims to mitigate fast fashion’s environmental footprint as well as redistribute access to high quality goods to all members of the campus community.

In addition to her schoolwork, Sofia works part time as the internship director at Debris Free, a local nonprofit dedicated to making Miami a zero-waste city. Double majoring in English and ecosystem science and policy on the pre-law track, Sofia is a leader and change-maker supporting education and policy for a more environmentally sustainable planet.

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Inaugural Recipient

Stephen D. Pearson, director of the John C. Gifford Arboretum, is the inaugural recipient of the Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote Prize. Over the years, Pearson helped start the Tropical Flowering Tree Society and served as president of the Friends of Chapman Field. For the last 24 years, he has been a member of the board of directors of the Montgomery Botanical Center. As Chairman of the City of Miami’s Beautification Committee, he led volunteers in planting flowering and native trees along I-95 and other highways in the early 1990’s. He has been honored with the Outstanding Volunteer Award from the Florida Urban Forestry Council and the National Outstanding Volunteer Award from American Forests and the National Urban Forestry Council.

Through his enthusiasm for preserving the history of our community’s natural environment, Pearson has created a peaceful oasis for meditation and relaxation on our campus. With a diverse and unusual collection of over 450 trees that spans every continent except Antarctica, the Gifford Arboretum is also a valuable tool for education and research.

“Real estate and business law was my profession, but horticulture and plants were my vocation,” says Pearson, who worked as a lawyer for most of his career.