The university joins President Mark B. Rosenberg in remembering philanthropist, FIU supporter, and Foundation Board of Directors member Sanford L. Ziff, who passed away at 91 on Friday. President Rosenberg sent the following email to the university community on Jan. 9.
Dear members of the university community,
It is with a heavy heart and deep appreciation for his contributions to our university that I share with you that FIU supporter and Foundation Board of Directors member Sanford L. Ziff passed away on Friday at the age of 91.
Sanford was known for his entrepreneurship and philanthropy in our community. A member of the FIU Foundation Board since 2002, Sanford was a longtime supporter of the College of Education — now part of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education. In 1996, the Ziff Family Education Building was named in his honor. His name also graces the Ziff Promenade in the Green Library and the Ziff Family Scholarship endowment, which provides ongoing support to students pursuing careers in education.
At an FIU scholarship breakfast in 2012, Sanford spoke of the pleasure he found in helping students achieve their goals: “To see all these young, beautiful, bright people who have aspirations for their future is so wonderful. For me, to have been a part of such a progressive university for all these years, it’s the best.”
From humble beginnings in Akron, Ohio, Sanford grew up to respect hard work and he applied that ethic to his business, beginning with a single sunglass kiosk in Dadeland Mall and building it into the Sunglass Hut International Inc. empire with 550 stores worldwide and annual sales of $100 million.
In 2005, he was recognized with a College of Business Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award and became a Torch Society Gold Flame inductee. He served on the College of Business International Business Advisory Board and the Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center Advisory Board.
Beyond FIU, he was known for his generosity to universities, homeless shelters, Jewish centers, and arts organizations, including the Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center in downtown Miami.
Sanford is survived by his children, Cindy and Dean Ziff; three grandchildren, Marco, Matteo, and Ashley Ziff De La Cruz; great-grandson Jazz Ziff De La Cruz; wife Beatrice Ziff and her two children and grandson Theodore Gary.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, in the Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.
We offer our sincerest condolences to his family and join with them and our community in remembering and celebrating the profound impact Sanford Ziff had on South Florida.
To read more about Sanford Ziff, please visit the Miami Herald obituary on his life and legacy.
Mark B. Rosenberg