e-Veritas Archive | April, 2016

Commencement Speakers Bring Global Views

By Maya Bell
UM News

Commencement Speakers2

The spring commencement speakers, who will receive honorary degrees at four ceremonies over two days, are, from left, Jorge G. Castañeda, Oscar Arias, Stephen Lewis, and Gillian Tett.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 26, 2016)—Four international luminaries—the former foreign minister of Mexico who challenged his nation’s one-party rule, the former president of Costa Rica who won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Canadian co-founder of AIDS-Free World who served the UN for two decades, and the British U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times who foresaw the looming mortgage crisis—will be among the distinguished speakers at the University of Miami’s commencement exercises May 5-7, when more than 3,500 graduates walk the stage at the BankUnited Center.

All four speakers—political scientist Jorge G. Castañeda, Nobel laureate Oscar Arias, AIDS advocate and former diplomat Stephen Lewis, and anthropologist-turn-financial-journalist Gillian Tett—will receive honorary degrees, Doctors of Humane Letters, for their notable contributions during one of four ceremonies that occur over two days, Thursday May 5 and Friday, May 6.

Rounding out the 2016 commencement speakers during the final two ceremonies on Saturday, May 7 will be documentary filmmaker, art collector, and philanthropist Dennis Scholl, a 1981 alumnus of the School of Law, who will deliver the address to 365  graduating law students at his alma mater’s commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., and UM President Julio Frenk, who will give his first commencement address as UM’s sixth president. A physician and public health expert who headed Mexico’s Ministry of Health, Frenk will share his advice with the nearly 200 new doctors who are graduating in the Miller School of Medicine’s Class of 2016 at 5 p.m.

Castañeda, the Global Distinguished Professor of Politics and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University, will address more than 970 students who are expected to walk the stage for their master’s and doctorate degrees at the 4 p.m. ceremony on Thursday, May 5. A prolific writer and renowned public intellectual, Castañeda was one of the architects of former Mexican President Vicente Fox’s 2000 National Action Party candidacy, which ended the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s seven decades of one-party rule. He served as Fox’s foreign minister from 2000 to 2003, refocusing Mexico’s foreign policy on human rights and democracy.

Arias, Costa Rica’s two-time president who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to stabilize Central America during one of its most turbulent periods, will share his advice at the 8:30 a.m. ceremony on Friday, May 6, when about 770 students from the College of Arts and Sciences will celebrate their graduation. Internationally renowned as a spokesperson for the developing world, Arias continues to promote human development, peace and democracy, and demilitarization in the developing world through the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, which he established with the monetary award from his Nobel prize. Since leaving office for the second time in 2010, he has concentrated on developing controls on the international arms trade, culminating in the approval of the International Arms Trade Treaty by the United Nations in 2013.

Lewis, who served as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from 2001 to 2006, will address about 700 graduates from the School of Architecture, the School of Communication, the School of Education and Human Development, the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music, and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, at the 1 p.m. undergraduate ceremony on Friday, May 6.

Through AIDS-Free World, the international advocacy organization Lewis co-directs, he continues to expose the social ills—injustice, abuse, and inequality—that underpin and sustain HIV. Prior to serving as special envoy, he was deputy executive director of UNICEF at the organization’s global headquarters in New York, and Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations. In that capacity, he chaired the first International Conference on Climate Change.

Tett, an award-winning journalist who is widely credited with being the first mainstream journalist to issue public warnings about the bubbling financial crisis that exploded into the headlines in 2008, will address more than 600 graduates of the School of Business Administration and the College of Engineering at the 5 p.m. ceremony on Friday, May 6.

A graduate of Cambridge University, where she earned her Ph.D. in social anthropology, Tett has reported on an eclectic range of financial topics from around the world. She speaks multiple languages and is the author of several books, including The New York Times best seller, Fool’s Gold: The Inside Story of J.P. Morgan and How Wall St. Greed Corrupted Its Bold Dream and Created a Financial Catastrophe.



Posted in NewsComments Off

Team UM Runs Past the Pack at Corporate Run

UM News

MIAMI, Fla. (April 29, 2016) — Turning off their computers and putting projects and other responsibilities on temporary hold, more than 1,900 University of Miami employees left work a little early last Thursday, descending on downtown Miami to show off their U pride in the 2016 Mercedes-Benz Miami Corporate Run.

In all, more than 26,500 employees from 860 companies participated in this year’s event. But it was Team UM, wearing bright orange T-shirts with the familiar split U logo on the back, which took top honors as the largest team at the event, surpassing longtime race leader Baptist Health.

“Largest team, that’s pretty significant,’’ Leah Harman, the small-boat manager for marine operations at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, told The Miami Herald. “From the top down, this University always promotes health and well-being and brought that culture to all of us.”

The University funds a portion of the event entry fee for faculty and staff, provides Well ’Canes points toward health insurance reimbursements, and promotes a Corporate Run T-shirt design contest that awards the winner with a $100 gift certificate to the UM Bookstore and a framed T-shirt signed by UM President Julio Frenk.

Team Bascom Palmer, with 80 participants, won the President’s Cup Office Challenge, awarded to the UM sub-team with the most participants. View the slideshow.

Posted in Freeze Frame, NewsComments Off

Not All Superheroes Wear Capes

By Charisse Lopez-Mason
Special to UM News

SuperheroesLisandra Afanador walked into the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute more than 11 years ago gripping her small son’s hand as tightly as she would at the edge of a cliff. Her head was spinning, and her heart was heavy with emotion. She was sad, hopeful, anxious, and afraid.

“My son suffered from everything,” she said. Then 9, Adriel Afanador was visiting Bascom Palmer to treat glaucoma and cataracts, among other diseases. He was small for his age, and hyperactive. “I was so afraid of how he would handle this,” Afanador recalled.

Soon after her first visit, Afanador met Vanessa Bello, manager of patient access at Bascom Palmer. “I knew she was special; she is someone you don’t forget.”

Twice a week for many years, Bello became Afanador’s confidant—putting her mind at ease during visits to Bascom Palmer with her son, helping them navigate through a very difficult situation, every step along the way. More than 1,100 visits, hand-holdings, and hide-and-seek games later for her son, Afanador speaks fondly about her experience at Bascom. “Vanessa was so warm and nice to my son throughout the years,” she said.

The Afanadors are one of countless families who have stories about their experiences at UHealth—the University of Miami Health System, and many involve one of the more than 500 on-site patient access representatives who serve thousands of patients each day.

Day in and day out, these representatives serve patients on the front lines, before they receive specialized care, and create a first impression that leaves a long-lasting impact.

On-site patient access representatives are hard to miss. Along with their bright smiles, they wear bright orange scarves or neckties dotted with the U.

“I can’t believe how popular the scarves have become,” says Enery Samlut, executive director of health system access. “We knew we wanted something that represented that we are all part of the U team.”

John Perez, senior patient access representative at Bascom Palmer for the past 18 years, knows the stories of each of his patients, who know him by name, or by his voice. “One of my patients was badly scarred in a fire,” he says of the woman he’s been greeting and helping several days a week for the past six years. “She knows I’m here by the sound of my voice,” Perez says.

But visiting a physician is not all smiles and friendly conversation. Wait times can be a challenge for both patients and staff, but patient access teams still strive to make sure the patient comes first. According to Perez, a lot of his job is ensuring that the patients are always kept informed and comfortable. “I try to make a connection with them to ensure that they have a good experience,” he says.

An integral part of providing that positive experience is integrating programs to help teams provide the best service they can despite roadblocks.

“The patient experience is the sum of all interactions but it all begins with a good first impression,” says Armando Carvajal, manager of IT and training operations, who subsequently implemented a new-hire orientation program for the on-site patient access team called Impressions. The five-hour course has one simple objective: to inspire and equip all front line, on-site patient access associates with the necessary skills to effectively and efficiently handle all types of customer interactions while providing a memorable and exceptional patient experience.

Patient Access Representatives make up one of the largest enrollments in the University’s Essentials of Leadership program, which provides foundational training and coaching for University leaders, and are active in the University’s culture transformation, being trained on the new leadership traits, behaviors, and service standards.

“We train and track metrics around service and performance,” said Salmut. “But it takes special people to do this work. It comes from the heart.”

Now 20, Adriel Afanador still visits Bascom Palmer, though not as frequently. Life hasn’t been easy for the Afanadors, but they are still grateful for the people at UM who helped ease their long journey. “Everyone, all the people there, are awesome,” Afanador said.


Posted in FeaturesComments Off

Researchers SPARK the Nation’s Largest Autism Study

Spark_Logo_CMYK[1]Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 21, 2016)Researchers from the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD) in UM’s Department of Psychology just helped launch the Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge, or SPARK, an online research initiative designed to become the largest autism study ever undertaken in the United States.

Sponsored by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI), SPARK, for the Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge, will collect information and DNA for genetic analysis from 50,000 individuals with autism—and from their families—to advance our understanding of the causes of this condition and to hasten the discovery of supports and treatments.

UM-NSU CARD is one of a select group of 21 leading national research institutions chosen by SFARI to assist with recruitment. Melissa Hale, clinical assistant professor, and her colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences, Anibal Gutierrez and Michael Alessandri, executive director of UM-NSU CARD, are leading the SPARK effort locally.

UM-NSU CARD is a state-funded resource and support program dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with autism and related disabilities, including deaf-blindness and pervasive developmental disorders.

“SPARK empowers researchers to make new discoveries that will ultimately lead to the development of new supports and treatments to improve lives, which makes it one of the most insightful research endeavors to date, in addition to being the largest genetic research initiative in the U.S.,” Hale says.

Autism is known to have a strong genetic component. To date, approximately 50 genes have been identified that almost certainly play a role in autism, and scientists estimate that an additional 300 or more are involved. By studying these genes, associated biological mechanisms, and how genetics interact with environmental factors, researchers can better understand the condition’s causes, and link them to the spectrum of symptoms, skills, and challenges of those affected.

SPARK aims to speed up autism research by inviting participation from this large, diverse autism community, with the goal of including individuals with a professional diagnosis of autism and of both sexes and all ages, backgrounds, races, geographic locations, and socioeconomic situations.

SPARK will connect participants to researchers, offering them the unique opportunity to impact the future of autism research by joining any of the multiple studies offered through SPARK. The initiative will catalyze research by creating large-scale access to study participants whose DNA may be selectively analyzed for a specific scientific question of interest.

SPARK also will elicit feedback from individuals and parents of children with autism to develop a robust research agenda that is meaningful for them. Anyone interested in learning more about SPARK or in participating can visit SPARKforAutism.org/card, or e-mail SPARK@psy.miami.edu.


SPARK (Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge) is a national autism research initiative that will connect individuals with a professional diagnosis of autism and their biological family members to research opportunities to advance our understanding of autism. SPARK’s goal in doing so is not only to better understand autism, but to accelerate the development of new treatments and supports.

SPARK was designed to be easily accessible to the entire autism community and was fashioned with input from adults with autism, parents, researchers, clinicians, service providers, and advocates.

Registering for this first-of-its-kind initiative can be done entirely online in the convenience of one’s home and at no cost. DNA will be collected via saliva kits shipped directly to participants. Once the SPARK participant’s family has returned their saliva samples and provided some medical and family history information, the SPARK participant will receive a $50 gift card. SPARK will provide access to online resources and the latest research in autism, which may provide participants and families with valuable information to help address daily challenges.

For researchers, SPARK provides a large, well-characterized cohort of genetic, medical and behavioral data, and will result in cost-savings for researchers by reducing start-up costs for individual studies.

SPARK is entirely funded by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI).


Posted in NewsComments Off

“Bosey” Foote Prize to Honor UM Community Members for Campus Beautification Efforts

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 28, 2016) – Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote, who came to Miami in 1981 when her husband, Edward T. “Tad” Foote II became the University of Miami’s fourth president, always made it her mission to turn the school’s grounds into a “Campus in a Tropical Garden.”

UM’s former first lady, who passed away on May 5, 2015, at the age of 76, knew that the setting was just as important as labs and libraries in contributing to the institution’s mission, and over time the beautification of the Coral Gables campus became her legacy.

Now, in memory of that legacy, the University has created the Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote Prize, which will be presented 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.

Current UM President Julio Frenk announced the award last Wednesday at the on-campus memorial service for former President Foote, who passed away in February.

The first prize will be awarded on Earth Day, April 22, 2017.

During her 20 years as UM’s first lady, “Bosey” Foote put herself into almost every leaf, blade of grass, frond, and flower that now flourishes on campus, taking an active role in many efforts—from landscape architecture and design to tree selections.

She supported UM’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.

“Bosey” Foote opened a series of palmetums featuring palms and cycads from several countries. Her work improved and continues to enhance what it touched, making buildings brighter, vistas more colorful and textured, and breezeways, walkways, and seating areas more inviting.


Posted in Honors, NewsComments Off

  • Features
  • Tags
  • Popular
  • Subscribe
  • Subscribe to the Veritas RSS Feed
    Get updates to all of the latest Veritas posts by clicking the logo at the right.

    You can also subscribe to specific categories by browsing to a particular section on our site and clicking the RSS icon below each section's header.

UM Facebook

UM Twitter