The University of Florida College of Education (COE) renamed the plaza at Norman Hall after alumna Ada Rosenson Dorfeld on Thursday. Dorfeld was a strong supporter of the COE, and the plaza was funded by her financial gift.
At the dedication, Dorfeld’s daughter, Cindy Dorfeld Bruckman, presented the last $400,000 of Dordfeld’s $1 million commitment to the COE.
“My mom recognized that education was the path to a better life. She knew it positively impacted lives,” Bruckman said in her speech at the dedication. “Positively impacting lives is exactly what she did. She knew that she had a platform to give and to make the world a better place.”
Plans for the plaza were already underway when Dorfeld died in March at the age of 91. Her daughter said Dorfeld got to see the plans and was delighted by what they looked like.
In 2013, the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program established a scholarship fund in Dorfeld’s name. UF’s College of Education has had 71 of these scholars, according to Executive Director Leslie Pendleton. Eleven of them are currently enrolled.
As one of six children in her family, Dorfeld worked through her childhood and carried that work ethic and fiscal responsibility into her college career and adulthood. While at UF, she sold her football tickets and filled donuts with jelly to pay for college and taught at the P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School right beside the plaza that now bears her name.
Bruckman said both her parents dedicated themselves to long-term investing and financial discipline. When her husband died 22 years ago, Dorfeld continued the quest to become more financially responsible.
Dorfeld had spent a lifetime saving and multiplying her money, but she was so disciplined that she did not want to spend the wealth she had obtained, according to Paul Caspersen, former assistant vice president and senior philanthropic advisor, who spoke at the dedication. He said she had a revelation about 10 years ago.
"[Dorfeld] realized that her true joy lay not in merely amassing the money, but using it to shape the future lives of young men and women at UF College of Education, initially, who faced financial challenges,” Caspersen said. “So she found a loophole, if you will, in her very own personal ethos of ‘I can't spend any money. So, if I can’t spend it, I can donate it so I'm not cheating.’”