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Entrepreneur’s $1.5 Million Gift Will Establish Triple-Degree Program at UM’s School of Law with MBA Delivered by School of Business

April 11, 2011
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A $1.5 million gift to the University’s School of Law will create what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind program in which students who were undergraduate business majors can earn three degrees—a JD, an LLM in taxation, and an MBA—in just four years. The gift, from entrepreneur Steven Mariano, was announced April 11.

“This generous gift to the law school bolsters the cross-disciplinary initiatives that are a top priority at UM,” said UM President Donna E. Shalala. “Steve Mariano has provided the law school with a gift that will benefit our most brilliant law students.”


From left, School of Law Dean Patricia D.
White, Steven Mariano, and UM President
Donna E. Shalala

The Mariano JD, MBA, LLM Program will begin next academic year, awarding scholarships to students who will be known as Mariano Scholars.

“Law and contracts are a very big part of what I do daily,” explained Mariano, chairman and CEO of Fort Lauderdale-based Patriot National Insurance Group Inc., a leading national provider of workers’ compensation insurance; Patriot Risk Services Inc., a URAC-accredited insurance services provider; and Six Points Investment Partners LLC. “In this particular case, the triple-degree program will meld law, taxation, and business. It’s very important for CEOs to have people working for them who have this type of specialty. Usually you don’t see that in one person. This is something that’s very much needed and a specialty that will be in even higher demand in the future.”

“This program is another example of how we at the University of Miami uniquely work across campus to deliver innovative cross-disciplinary programs to meet the changing demands of organizations today,” said Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa, interim dean of UM’s School of Business Administration. “By bringing together the strengths of the School of Business and the School of Law, we are providing students from both professional schools the opportunity to significantly enhance their credentials and capabilities, making them even more competitive in the marketplace upon graduation.”

Patricia Brown, director of the UM law school’s Graduate Program in Taxation, which was recently ranked fifth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, said, “A good tax lawyer has to understand the business objective for, and the economics behind, the transactions he is reviewing. Most tax lawyers, to the extent they learn this at all, do so piecemeal over the first few years of practice. The sequencing of the courses in this program will result in students having the necessary business knowledge before they take the specialized tax classes that complete the LLM degree. It will give them an enormous head start in practice.”

Mariano said his will be more than just a name on a program. He hopes to mentor the students and, if possible, arrange internships for them.

“The University of Miami is, without question, the leading institution in South Florida and also among the best in the country,” Mariano said. “It has a nationally ranked tax program, and Dean White has done a tremendous job bolstering the School of Law. We wanted to support an institution that has a great impact on our community. The stronger the University of Miami is, the more the nation’s best and brightest will come to South Florida.”

Mariano came to South Florida 11 years ago, establishing Patriot National’s headquarters in Fort Lauderdale. He is active in the South Florida community, staying involved with several charitable and development organizations. He will serve as chair of the 2011 Broward Heart Ball, one of the largest regional charity events in South Florida, which will benefit the American Heart Association.

He is a proud father of five children, ages 12 to 19, and his cousin, Christopher Pizzo, JD ’09, the senior vice president and chief of staff at Patriot National, is a UM law school alumnus.

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