e-Veritas Archive | October, 2016

Take Free Shuttle to Early Voting

The student organization “Get Out To Vote” and several University departments are providing faculty, staff and students free shuttle transportation to the early-voting site at the Coral Gables Community Library and back to campus on Tuesday, November 1 and Wednesday, November 2. The shuttle leaves from the Stanford Circle every half-hour, beginning at 9 a.m., with the last shuttle leaving the library at 5 p.m. To vote, you must be registered in Miami-Dade County and present valid government-issued identification with your name, photograph and signature. Questions? Contact vote@miami.edu.

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René Sacasas Named Faculty Ombudsperson


René Sacasas

UM News

René Sacasas, professor and chair of the Business Law Department who built a distinguished career in academia and service over his 30 years at the University of Miami’s School of Business Administration, has been appointed to the new position of University faculty ombudsperson.

“This newly created position follows the recommendation of the Committee on Women and Minorities of the Faculty Senate, and was developed in close consultation with the leadership of the Faculty Senate,’’ Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc said in announcing Sacasas’s appointment.

“Professor Sacasas has served the University of Miami with distinction for many years, and has exhibited the ideal qualities for an ombudsperson: wisdom, compassion, and confidentiality,” LeBlanc continued. “As an initiative of our culture transformation, the University faculty ombudsperson will provide faculty with a confidential avenue for resolving problems and conflicts, and hopefully help to create a ‘culture of belonging’ for all faculty.”

Sacasas, a long-serving member of the Faculty Senate, is specifically charged with helping individual faculty or groups of faculty explore their options for resolving conflicts, problematic issues, or concerns, and bringing systemic concerns to the attention of the appropriate unit or academic leader for resolution.

The 2015 recipient of the James W. McLamore Outstanding Service Award and a member of Iron Arrow, Sacasas said he was honored to be given the opportunity to serve his colleagues and the University in this new position.

“The essential basis of the shared governance model between the faculty and administration at the University of Miami is founded upon the ideals of mutual trust and fairness,” Sacasas said. “The new position of University ombudsperson was created for and dedicated to the support of those goals. As ombudsperson, I will serve the University’s faculty community by acting as an independent, impartial, informal, and confidential resource to assist all faculty with their questions and concerns outside of the formal conflict resolution systems of the University.”

Sacasas, who grew up in Miami swimming at the UM pool and attending Hurricanes football games in the Orange Bowl, joined the UM faculty in 1985 as an assistant professor in the Business Law Department. A year later, he became one of the first faculty fellows at Eaton Residential College, later serving as an associate master at Mahoney Residential College from 1990 to 1993. In 1995 Sacasas returned to the residential college system as headmaster for Hecht Residential College. During that time, he counseled and mentored thousands of students as well as numerous faculty members who served in residential college roles.

During his 25 years as chair, the Business Law Department doubled in size, increased faculty diversity, created several new programs, including a cross-disciplinary initiative in real estate, and became one of the top ten undergraduate business law programs in the United States, as ranked by Business Week.

He also will work with Professor Norman H. Altman, the Miller School of Medicine’s faculty ombudsman. Altman, a professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology, will continue to oversee the majority of cases at the medical school. However, Sacasas and Altman can each serve as a backup for each other and, where conflicts arise, will be a resource for the other.

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Forum Spotlights ‘Relevant Issue of Our Day’

By Jessica M. Castillo
UM News

Consuls from Canada, the Netherlands, Mexico, France, and Germany discussed their countries’ post-COP21 strategies for combating climate change in a panel moderated by Jim Murley, Miami-Dade County Chief Resilience Officer.

Consuls from Canada, the Netherlands, Mexico, France, and Germany discussed their countries’ post-COP21 strategies for combating climate change in a panel moderated by Jim Murley, Miami-Dade County Chief Resilience Officer.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 31, 2016)—With NASA predicting 2016 will be the hottest year on record, University of Miami President Julio Frenk opened the first day of an important energy and global warming conference last week by calling climate change the “quintessential relevant issue of our day.”

“Just a few weeks ago, annual king tides on Miami Beach and other low-lying areas of our community reached unprecedented heights due to sea-level rise, and we are seeing extreme weather events around the world become more frequent. The impact is all around us,” Frenk said, as the forum Consequences of the Fall: Energy Security, Sustainable Development, and Global Warming got underway in UM’s Newman Alumni Center last Thursday.

The three-day conference, which moved to Florida International University’s Management and Advanced Research Center Pavilion for day two and ended Saturday on UM’s Coral Gables campus, examined the impacts of climate change on energy—from the local level to governance in the developing world.

It also addressed the global effects of the dramatic plunge in oil prices two years ago, addressing topics such as hydrocarbons, renewable energy and sustainability, energy sector management, corruption, and best practices.

Over the years, the conference has shifted its focus from energy security to the future of energy production and distribution via renewable energy sources.

Stemming from the Department of International Studies Department in UM’s College of Arts and Sciences, the conference is truly interdisciplinary and global in reach, with dozens of scientists, practitioners, government officials, diplomats, and university leaders attending the event. Since the conference began four years ago, speakers from 21 different countries have participated.

“In perfect alignment with the University’s aspirations, particularly in the hemispheric and relevant categories, this conference provides a forum for a diverse set of experiences and expertise to cross-pollinate and create new opportunities for partnerships that strengthen the gene pool of knowledge,” said Frenk.

Echoing President Frenk’s opening remarks, Bruce Bagley, director of the conference and of the Program on International Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, believes this year’s topics foster the University’s aspirations to be both hemispheric and relevant.

President Frenk also highlighted the University’s Climate Change Special Report as “a living platform for the exchange of ideas, as well as an incubator for new cross-disciplinary collaborations,” noting that the site has been used by the City of Miami’s Waterfront Advisory Board and Sea Level Rise Committee to help better understand the impacts of climate change.

Among the day one panels at UM was a discussion moderated by Miami-Dade County Chief Resilience Officer Jim Murley on global perspectives of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies following the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in 2015.

Susan Harper, Consul General of Canada in Miami, Natalie Olijslager, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Miami, Jose Antonio Zabalgoitia, Consul General of Mexico in Miami, Clément Leclerc, Consul General of France in Miami, and Axel Zeissig, Vice Consul of Germany in Miami, participated on that panel.

The conference was sponsored by UM’s College of Arts and Sciences, the University of Miami Institute for the Americas, FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs, FIU’s Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, FIU’s Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy, and the Zambrano Foundation, Inc.

View the agenda.

For more information on the University of Miami’s work related to climate change and sustainability, visit Climate Change: A University of Miami Special Report.


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University of Miami Hosts First Neural Engineering Symposium

Special to UM News

From left are Jonathan Wolpaw, W. Dalton Dietrich, Ozcan Ozdamar, and Daniel S. Rizzuto.

The University of Miami hosted its first Neural Engineering Symposium on October 13 to promote collaborations among research, educational, and industry programs for this rapidly growing discipline. Ozcan Ozdamar, professor and chair of the College of Engineering’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, and W. Dalton Dietrich, scientific director of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, served as co-directors of the symposium, which was organized by the Department of Biomedical Engineering and The Miami Project with support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

More than 100 attendees from various departments and schools participated in the one-day event, held in the Lois Pope LIFE Center. Researchers discussed more than 50 posters, and a number of invited speakers from the University of Miami, University of Pittsburgh, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, and Florida International University presented their most recent work.

Jonathan Wolpaw, director of the National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies at the New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center, delivered the keynote address on the development of EEG-based brain-computer interfaces that can restore communication and control to people who are paralyzed by spinal cord injury and other disorders.

In another lecture, Daniel S. Rizzuto, director of Cognitive Neuromodulation at the University of Pennsylvania, reviewed current research in the development of brain stimulation therapies for patients with memory impairments as part of the DARPA RAM Project.

The meeting was coordinated by Karin Scarpinato, assistant provost for research, with the following interdisciplinary program committee members: Fabrice Manns, Suhrud Rajguru, Abhishek Prasad, Monica Perez, Vittorio Porciatti, and Michael Hoffer. The symposium was structured to enhance collaborations throughout the University and between relevant programs within the state of Florida to enhance research and educational initiatives comprising the biomedical engineering and neuroscience communities.

The symposium was supported in part by industry sponsors and the Department of Biomedical Engineering and The Miami Project. Future conferences are planned along with a new University of Miami Institute for Neural Engineering that will position the University for funding opportunities requiring established programs that integrate engineering and neuroscience for the assessment and treatment of neurological disorders. This initiative also will be critical for attracting the next generation of trainees to Miami who wish to make a career in this exciting technological discipline.

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Food for Thought: UM Marks World Food Day

Activities include a talk on implementing healthy eating habits in schools, a Fair Food Fair, and Tropical Fruit Crush.

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 28, 2016) – As a teacher at an elementary school in the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the 1990s, Nancy Easton often saw how a poor diet affected students’ ability to learn. “They started the day with soda and chips, were fed an insufficient lunch, and couldn’t concentrate,” Easton recalled.

It was no surprise to her, then, that the school had some of the lowest test scores in New York City.

When the struggling school was shuttered, Easton could have moved on to another job and forgotten about those kids altogether. But she didn’t forget. Instead, she continued to focus on those students and others like them, starting a national nonprofit organization that inspires healthy eating, environmental awareness, and fitness as a way of life for school-aged kids.

Today, Easton’s Wellness in the Schools (WITS) impacts more than 50,000 students in 100 schools across the country, helping to provide them healthy, homemade meals, active recess periods, and fitness and nutrition education.

Last Monday, as part of the University of Miami’s observance of World Food Day, Easton spoke at UM’s Shoma Hall about the success of WITS and the plans to expand the initiative to three South Florida schools.

WITS, Easton noted, works with schools for three years to initiate a culture of healthy eating patterns for their students, using the same federal procurement list of cafeteria supplies and groceries provided to schools to create alternative menu items, such as vegetable chili, and then introducing the new menu choices to children and staff through classroom presentations and cooking demonstrations.

The model is working, said Easton, because pre- and post-surveys conducted at schools where WITS has been implemented show that children are smiling, running, and playing more often, spending less time in front of the television screen and home, and eating more vegetables.

Last August, according to Easton, WITS began working with Miami-Dade County’s Charles R. Drew Elementary School and Key Biscayne Community School and Broward County’s Watkins Elementary to bring the model to their campuses.

With childhood obesity rates triple what they were 30 years ago and 42 percent of Americans projected to be obese by 2030 at a health care cost of $550 billion, Easton said it is critical that her work continues.

She urged the audience to support local school and become a WITS volunteer.

Easton’s lecture, presented by the Office of Civic and Community Engagement (CCE) and the Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences, culminated a day of National Food Day-related activities on the Coral Gables campus. Among the other events held last Monday: a Fair Food Fair featuring tasty treats and literature on healthy eating, local farming, and community gardens, and a Tropical Fruit Crush that raised awareness about expanding access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

CCE, Green U, the Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development, the Herbert Wellness Center, Student Health Services, UM Dining, the UM Community Garden Club, and the Food Forest Project from the Miami Baptist Collegiate Ministry sponsored UM’s Food Day activities.


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