Update on STEM@UM

roadmap-updatesSTEM@UM, one of the initiatives of the Roadmap to Our New Century, is designed to strengthen the building blocks of innovation—basic and applied science, mathematics, and engineering—to enable the University of Miami to fulfill its potential as a world leader in scientific inquiry and problem-solving.

The initiative rests on a strong foundation—a $100 million gift from Dr. Phillip and Patricia Frost to establish the Frost Institutes for Science and Engineering. Modeled after the National Institutes of Health, the Frost Institutes will be an umbrella organization for multiple institutes, beginning with the Frost Institute of Chemistry and Molecular Science (FICMS). Planning for the FICMS, which will focus on the promise of nanotechnology and advanced materials in bioscience, is well underway.

 On May 31, the Executive Committee of the UM Board of Trustees gave its formal approval for the establishment of the Frost Institutes, paving the way for the STEM@UM action team, led by Angel Kaifer, senior associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Arts and Sciences, to begin a national search for the inaugural FICMS director, who also will serve as director of the umbrella organization.

Next month, four architectural firms are scheduled to present preliminary proposals to the action team and University leadership for a 70,000-square-foot building that will house the FICMS. To be called The Phillip and Patricia Frost Science and Engineering Building, it will be located adjacent to the Palm Court Fountain and the Ashe Building on the Coral Gables campus, with a projected completion and occupation date of fall 2020.

The action team is currently considering the substantive areas of focus for the next institutes that will come under the Frost Institutes umbrella. This process is driven by an assessment of strengths that the University can leverage to distinguish itself from its peer institutions.





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The Fine Art of Healing


Medical, nursing, and physical therapy graduate students come to the Lowe to observe and discuss art—and enhance patient safety.

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 21, 2017)—Medical, nursing, and physical therapy graduate students gathered at the Lowe Art Museum last week as part of a unique study program that hones their observation and communication skills—while reflecting on art.

Part of the University of Miami’s annual Patient Safety Week, the Fine Art of Health Care program developed at the Lowe is based on Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a methodology that invites participants to enhance their sensitivity, empathy, communication, and teamwork, which in turn improves patient outcomes.

“Participants are always surprised at what they discover beyond their initial impressions of what they see,” said Hope Torrents, the Lowe’s director of the program, now in its fourth year. “Additionally, they learn to communicate about their observations with sensitivity and in collaboration with their peers, which can only benefit their patients.”

While many programs around the country incorporate visual art into medical education, the Lowe program is singular in that it convenes students from different medical disciplines who one day will need to work together.

More than 300 students spent part of last week in small groups, observing and discussing pieces of art in the museum’s galleries, and focusing on the connections between examining art and examining a patient. The exercise is valuable, Torrents says, because ambiguity in art is similar to the uncertainty of a patient’s illness. Different perspectives and interpretations can help to enhance the understanding of a work of art, just as multiple perspectives support a more accurate patient diagnosis.

Hierarchy doesn’t exist when the students walk into the museum. The playing field is leveled, and all interpretations and perspectives are welcomed.

Now a surgical resident in Chicago, Miller School of Medicine graduate Benjamin Lemelman was asked to share his thoughts about the Lowe program with the students who attended last week’s session. He applauds it for breathing arts into the sciences.

“As you focus on a painting or sculpture or photograph, you will: Observe. Listen. Communicate. Acknowledge. Connect. Substantiate. Lead. Affirm. Be silent. Disagree. And JUST BE,” Lemelman wrote in a message. “This is what’s missing from medicine. We get so focused; we get lost. We can lose sight of what matters. What is meaningful. Why we entered health care in the first place.”

In an age where insightful communication is compromised by social media and stimulation overload, VTS and the Lowe program are now recognized as a highly effective strategy to develop the empathic and observational skills fundamental to so many industries—from law enforcement to air traffic controllers to human resources.


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Taking One Action

Approachable, receptive and genuine were words staff used to describe University of Miami President Julio Frenk during a recent session of Conversations with President Frenk. Launched earlier this year as the president’s “One Action” in response to the results of the faculty and staff engagement survey, the quarterly sessions allow employees to share ideas and concerns with him.

“I saw the invitation and was impressed. It’s not common for the leader of such a large organization to meet directly with staff,” said Michael Malone, director of editorial services for University Communications. “I had been at the University for only two months, and this was my opportunity to meet the president and learn more about where the University is headed.”

After a brief introduction, Frenk invited members of the group, which was open to staff with less than five years of service, to share their experiences of working at the U while he took notes.

“The president established trust with the group from the start, which made it easy for everyone to open up,” commented Hilda Garcia, senior administrative assistant with health information integrity. “He was genuinely interested in what we had to say, and I believe he will do what it takes to make improvements across the University.”

Fifteen staff members attended each of the first two sessions, which were held on the Coral Gables and Miller School campuses. The sessions are intentionally small to allow the president to engage with each participant. Conversations with President Frenk will continue in the fall, with open invitations to other groups of faculty and staff posted in Veritas.

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Circles of Excellence

CASE-InaugurationCORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 22, 2017) —The Council for Advancement and Support of Education has recognized the University of Miami with Circle of Excellence awards for its celebration of President Julio Frenk’s inauguration and outreach to alumni during the weeklong extravaganza.

With an entry submitted by the Division of University Advancement, the University received a gold award in the multi-day events category for the breadth and scope of the programs that accompanied Frenk’s January 29, 2016, inauguration as UM’s sixth president.

Beginning with a Celebration of Women’s Athletics Luncheon on January 24 and ending with a discussion on Our Global Future: Teaching, Research, and Discovery in Our New Century on January 30, the events collectively honored UM’s traditions, embraced the broader community and highlighted Frenk’s bold, new strategic vision for the institution’s next century.

In the category of Alumni Outreach, the Office of Alumni Relations’ entry earned a silver award for the University’s unique and creative engagement of alumni during inauguration week.

Following the theme “Charting the Course to Our New Century,” Alumni Relations sent inauguration kits, designed as vintage suitcases, to 16 alumni clubs across the nation, which gathered for ’Canes Communities Tip-Off Parties prior to the nationally televised UM men’s basketball game against Duke.

More than 350 alumni-owned businesses in South Florida also received the kits and “Proud Supporter of the U” window clings, showcasing ’Canes pride and the impact ’Canes have on the economy.

Among the many other initiatives and events recognized by both awards was the introduction of ’Cane Talks, the lively 10-minute presentations from UM visionaries that have become a new UM tradition—and a means to showcase the depth of UM talent. All ’Cane Talks are live-streamed and archived online, and several have been featured at We Are One U alumni gatherings across the nation.

This year’s CASE awards, which were judged by peer professionals both inside and outside education, were the most competitive yet, drawing 3,300 entries and reflecting what CASE President and CEO Sue Cunningham called “talent and ingenuity.”

“These awards acknowledge superior accomplishments that have lasting impacts, demonstrate a high level of professionalism and deliver exceptional results,” she said.

The leading resource for professional development, information and standards in the fields of education fundraising, communications, marketing, and alumni relations, CASE serves nearly 3,700 universities, colleges, schools and related organizations in more than 82 countries.



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Theresa Semmens Named Chief Information Security Officer and Assistant VP

UM News

Theresa Semmens

Theresa Semmens

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 17, 2017)—Bringing a wealth of strategic cybersecurity expertise, Theresa Semmens joins the University of Miami as its chief information security officer (CISO) and assistant vice president, effective June 19.

As a member of University of Miami Information Technology’s (UMIT’s) Executive Cabinet, Semmens will work closely with senior administration, academic leaders, health system leaders, and the University community to optimize UM’s information technology security.

“Theresa brings strategic leadership to UMIT during our ongoing work to enhance our cybersecurity posture,” said Steve Cawley, vice president for information technology and chief information officer. “We’re looking forward to her being a leader who will have a positive impact on our University and information technology as a whole.”

As an advocate for UM’s information security needs, Semmens will be responsible for the development of a comprehensive information security strategy and a security program that leverages collaborations and university-wide resources, facilitates information security governance, advises senior leadership on security direction and resource investments, and designs appropriate policies to manage information security risk.

Semmens joins UM from North Dakota State University (NDSU), where she served as its CISO. There, she was responsible for creating, coordinating, and evaluating processes to build an information security vision and strategy, which included security policies, procedures and risk management, and assessment. At NDSU, she also reviewed contracts, software and service licenses, and agreements that contained IT components of security and regulatory compliance—in particular evaluating matters related to HIPPA, FERPA, GLBA, and applicable protection of information and privacy laws.

Semmens holds two master’s degrees, one in business administration and another in management, from the University of Mary in North Dakota.


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