Update on the 100 Talents

roadmap-updatesThrough the 100 Talents initiative, part of the Roadmap to Our New Century, the University of Miami seeks to increase the number of endowed faculty positions with individuals who enhance the creative talent already enriching the U.

Led by Dr. David Birnbach, vice provost for faculty affairs, the 100 Talents action team has focused on developing the processes that will allow the University to create 100 new endowed positions by its centennial in 2025. These positions will include new and existing faculty, as well as rotating and visiting appointments.

Following input from the University community, the team already helped organize four Distinguished Presidential Scholars and Fellows during the 2016 – 2017 academic year. They included two eminent figures from the arts, flautist Sir James Galway and photographer Susan Meiselas; acclaimed Cuban journalist Yoani Sanchez; and prominent geneticist and biologist Carlos Bustamante.

Each of these renowned talents participated in the University’s intellectual life during their visits by interacting with faculty, students, and the greater community through lectures, teaching, special performances, and other gatherings that generated dialogue and engagement. In bringing their diverse perspectives to our campuses, the scholars and fellows also provided mentorship, encouraged collaboration, and enhanced research and scholarship.

The action team is continuing to create initiatives to identify existing talents on our campuses and to attract distinguished visiting scholars and practitioners from a variety of fields and communities around the globe.

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Executive Vice President Travisano’s Secret to Normalcy

By Melissa Cabezas
UM News

Travisano-2CORAL GABLES, Fla. (August 11, 2017)—“I’m normal,” Jacqueline Travisano, UM’s new executive vice president for business and finance and chief operating officer, said last week in addressing more than 100 leaders within the Division of Business and Finance. “Well, at least I try to be, thanks to a set of laws I’ve kept on my desk for more than two decades.”

Travisano was referring to Friday’s Laws created by Paul J. Friday, the special guest speaker at the August 8 Business and Finance Leadership Forum, a special leadership development event in the division and the first for Travisano. The laws help people gain perspective on daily stressors and problems and help induce a sense of harmony by improving the good and changing the not so good.

“You will leave here today different than you are now—if I do what I’m supposed to do,” Friday, chief of clinical psychology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center–Shadyside, said as he began his presentation, “Thriving in Times of Change.” He used the hour to review his eight fundamental laws, using comic strips and humorous anecdotes to bring his points to life.

The laws can be summarized simply: Perception is reality. Change is the toughest thing a human being can do. I am responsible for everything I do and say. I am not responsible for your response.

These are phrases many of us have heard in one form or another, but oftentimes ignore or forget in times of stress or as a result of the routine of everyday life. 
“We must work to become and stay normal,” said Friday, referring to the special state of being people enter when they understand and accept his laws—the state when our thoughts, feelings, and actions are in harmony.

“That is the secret to success in your career, your relationships, and your life,” he said.

While we continually have to call the laws to mind and work on staying normal, Friday, who has presented to national and international forums on topics relevant to cognitive behavioral therapy, took the time to point out one fundamental concept—his final law: The only thing that lasts forever is now.

“If you remember nothing else today,” Friday said, “remember this, best stated by Robert Hastings in his book The Station: ‘It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.’”

As Friday noted, we cannot change the past nor predict the future. We must remember to live in the present and take responsibility for our own actions. Being normal will help us become better, as leaders and as people, both at home and at work.

Only time will tell if the people in the room were changed from Friday’s presentation. If nothing else, they may become a little more normal.

Read all of Dr. Friday’s laws and take the free brain test.


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Learning About Trust at the U: First Star Academy Supports Foster Care Youth

By Michael Malone
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (August 4, 2017)—Trust comes painstakingly slow for many foster care youth, those who spend their childhoods tossed from family to family as they tumble through “the system,” often wondering where “home” will be tomorrow.


School of Law Professor Kele Stewart and counselors enjoy some leisure time with First Star students (not pictured).

Yet for the 20 rising 9th-graders in foster care that comprise the first cohort of the First Star Academy of the University of Miami, “home” has been the University’s Coral Gables campus for five weeks this summer. And trust—together with math, language arts, science and life-skills—has been the focus of their learning as part of this national model that provides a pathway to college for foster care youth.

Bringing such an ambitious program that works with at-risk youth to a college campus requires both visionary leadership and committed partners. The effort has been fueled by the passion of School of Law Professor Kele Stewart and the planning team of Professor Laura Kohn-Wood and Associate Professor Wendy Morrison-Cavendish, both in the School of Education and Human Development (SOEHD).

“Everyone in our program has a trauma history,” Stewart said. “We talked with case managers to determine who would be a good fit. As long as the student fit the criteria and wanted to be here, we were determined to give everyone an opportunity.”

The teens spent their mornings strengthening academics; afternoons focused on life skills, with weekly field trip to see the murals in Wynwood, the Frost Science Museum, a dance performance, and doing a beach clean-up. They ate in the Hecht Dining Hall and slept in the residential colleges.

The same group—with the potential to add 10 more students—returns for the next three summers. During the school year, UM staff from the School of Education and the School of Law will coordinate monthly Saturday meetings with the adolescents and their parents or caregivers while also providing educational advocacy support. The program is funded in this first phase by The Children’s Trust and by Our Kids of Miami Dade/Monroe.


Program director Maria Pia de Castro counsels one of the First Star Academy students.

The dramatic change of scenery, and the commitment and support of the UM team has yielded fast progress for many of the participants.

“You already see the wheels turning,” commented Stewart just a few weeks into the program. “They’re being exposed to a lot of different things, and the youth are very engaged, asking a lot of questions. Their questions are very empathetic and insightful. It’s been nice to see how they’re responding,”

“Meeting the students is huge. Now you have a face, a personality, a history to build around,” explained Morrison-Cavendish, whose research and expertise focuses on special education and juvenile justice education. “There is so much variability in their needs. Being able to meet with students and talk with them to explain that we’re going to be building this together…and to reinforce that this is a four-year program, that we are committing to them—that’s something they generally don’t hear.”

Kohn-Wood and Morrison-Cavendish have been instrumental in developing the design and research protocol for the program. The program promotes positive behaviors that will enable the teens to graduate high school, and enter and succeed in college.

“We use our practice and research to apply to a community in need,” said Kohn-Wood. “Foster kids are one of the most vulnerable groups. It’s heartbreaking that there are federal dollars available to go to many youth, but they’re not able to take advantage of it.”

Federal and some state dollars are available for foster youth to attend college, but lacking the skills, the study habits, the support, they inevitably drop out. First Star seeks to lay a foundation for success.

Deborah Perez, a First Star counselor and UM alumna who is in the second year of her Ph.D. program at the U, understands the challenges the youth would face in navigating the transition to college without an oar of support.

A foster child herself, Perez was raised by her Cuban grandfather—she honors him with a tattoo of his youthful face on her left forearm. She grew up an overachiever, propelled by a drive to excel in one of Miami’s most under-served and impoverished neighborhoods. Perez served as a youth rep on several agency boards, including the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami. Former UM President Donna Shalala sat on the same board and took special notice of this incredible young leader.

“You’re going to come to UM,” Shalala told her. Offered such an incredible opportunity, Perez chose to attend.

“The first weeks at college were a nightmare, I cried myself to sleep every night—no one to talk to, no one to advise me. I was a first-generation college kid,” Perez remembered.


From left, counselors Stephan Ambrose and Alkean Smith, director Maria Pia De Castro, and teacher Deborah Perez talk with Professor Kele Stewart.

The First Star Academy is composed of a cadre of UM alumni and students who serve as teachers, advisors, and support staff. Program director Maria Pia De Castro, a UM alumna, adjunct, and former Miami-Dade County Public School teacher, is the only full-time staff.

“The kids see the unity and cohesiveness of our team—and it’s really good for them to see. It’s been a very positive experience,” said Pia De Castro, adding “we’ve had to prove ourselves from the beginning, to show that we’re really here for them, that it’s not just a summer thing.”

Stephan Ambrose, a rising junior studying public health at UM, Ryan Severdija, a rising junior studying biology, and Alkean Smith, a student at Miami Dade College North, are the three male counselors.

Ambrose says, “The kids test us, wondering if we’re here for the money [stipend paid to counselors], to exploit them. ‘No, we’re here to help your self-awareness,’ we tell them.”

“It’s been a rollercoaster—wonderful some days, some days a tug of war, like we pull them and they pull us. We’ve got through to a couple of them, the others—we don’t ignore them, but we give them their space,” says Smith, noting that the discussion groups where personal stories are shared have had a big impact on him. “The other day one of the kids shared that his mom passed, and mine did too. I feel that.”

Nicole Swanson, a SOEHD alum, is one of the science teachers, and Ambar Alfaro, a School of Communication alumna, teaches language arts.

The summer residential program ended on Friday. The first family session is scheduled for early September to reconvene with the students after they’ve started their high school classes, and to meet with foster parents and caretakers to continue to build family bonds.

“This summer will be our baseline to decide where we really want to go, what these kids need and want, and to develop the plan for the partnerships that we want to develop,” says Morrison-Cavendish.

“We’re doing First Star for a reason, and this program has great potential. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to work on a project with people who are really committed to these students for the right reasons. This is really about the kids,” she adds.


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Eastern Airlines Archive Lands at UM

By Cory Czajkowski
University of Miami Libraries

Eastern Miami

In this undated photograph from the archive, members of American Legion Post 292 reflect the community’s pride in Eastern Airlines.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 27, 2017) – On an overcast day, a line of uniformed men are positioned side by side in front of a towering DC-4 aircraft, its four propellers at rest. Flanked by an American flag and a banner identifying the group as American Legion Post 292, the men proudly stand at attention with marching drums slung over their shoulders. The skin of a bass drum placed on the runway nearby is lettered with paint to pinpoint the location: Miami, Florida. The American Legion troop in front of the DC-4 represents the company, Eastern Airlines.

This black-and-white photograph, although undated and without a formal description, helps set a tone for how significant the aviation industry was to the development of South Florida. The print is just one of many items in the 440 linear feet of materials in the Eastern Airlines Archive, which was recently donated by the Eastern Airlines Retirees Association to the University of Miami Libraries Special Collections. Open to researchers and the general public, the complete Eastern Archive—which includes a number of unidentified items, such as the photograph of Legion Post 292—embodies a nostalgic pride for an airline that still remains in the hearts and minds of its local and global community of former employees.

“These records trace the dramatic growth of Miami as a major tourist destination when Eastern was at one time the largest corporate employer and airline in Florida,” says Roland Moore, Eastern Airlines’ former director of legal affairs. “Over 12,000 employees resided in Orlando, Tampa, and South Florida.”

Founded in 1926 as a mail carrier, Eastern Airlines was first based in New York City and headed by Edward Vernon Rickenbacker, recognized locally as the namesake for Miami’s Rickenbacker Causeway. A decorated World War I flying ace and pioneer in air transportation, Rickenbacker acquired Eastern’s earliest transportation routes to Florida after World War II. He promoted Florida as a tourist and business destination with easy access to Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern soon became the leading airline in the Sunshine State.

In 1975 the airline relocated to Miami under the direction of former NASA astronaut and Apollo 8 commander Frank Borman. With headquarters at Miami International Airport, the company quickly made Miami the capital of Latin American and Caribbean aviation, boosted business at local airports, created tourism booms in several countries, and eventually distinguished itself as one of America’s most recognized air carriers until it ceased operations in 1991.

“The Eastern donation is a perfect complement to our airline industry holdings, further establishing Special Collections as a premier destination for research into the history of exploration, as well as air and sea navigation,” says Charles Eckman, dean of University of Miami Libraries. “These materials amount to a rich and unique repository, with a deep research value that’s tightly woven into our South Florida culture.”

The archive is comprised of historical materials including correspondence, tens of thousands of photographs and slides, labor files, business records, newsletters, print and video travel advertisements, posters, memorabilia, and artifacts such as flight attendants’ uniforms.

“This collection is a microcosm of the worlds of business, public relations, advertising, fashion, technological advances—all through the fascinating lens of the aviation industry,” says Cristina Favretto, head of Special Collections. “It will appeal to a very wide range of users, from scholars writing very focused books and articles to high school students interested in early aviation history, to people who were connected to Eastern directly and indirectly as employees or passengers. The collection will also appeal to our creative side, because it appeals to the explorer in all of us.”

Eastern’s archive joins other signature collections, such as the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records, World Wings International, Inc. Records, Clipper Pioneers Collection, and the recently donated Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Early Americas, Exploration and Navigation. These collections form the core of a body of resources available to scholars and students who wish to discover more about how airline travel, the travel industry, historical navigation, and the impulse to explore new worlds shaped our present culture. Researchers can touch and examine the original documents, maps, photos, and other materials from these bygone eras, enabling a better understanding of the human industry, enterprise, and creativity that gave rise to these artifacts.

From the early days as a mail carrier in New York City, to growing into an internationally recognized airline that launched South Florida as a capital of aviation, Eastern Airlines continues to hold a special place in history for its legion of devotees—a history that visiting researchers and specialists can support by exploring the collection and potentially helping to identify some of the unknowns within the archive.

“The Eastern community in South Florida is still very close-knit and active, and we were confident that the University of Miami would make the best home for the archive,” Moore says. “We’re thrilled about the possibilities of this collaboration and the new scholarly research to come, but we’re most pleased that the legacy of Eastern will live on.”

A commemorative event is being planned to honor Eastern’s retirees association for their important donation to the University and community-at-large. For questions about the Eastern Airlines Archive or to lend your support to its processing and organization, please contact Cristina Favretto at 305-284-3247 or asc.library@miami.edu.



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Update on the Problem-Based Interdisciplinary Inquiry Initiative

roadmap-updatesThrough the initiative on Problem-Based Interdisciplinary Inquiry, part of the Roadmap to Our New Century, the University of Miami is developing new structures, systems, and programs to expand multidisciplinary collaborations across the U to continue addressing the increasingly complex problems faced by our society in the 21st century.

Led by John Bixby, vice provost for research, the Problem-Based Interdisciplinary Inquiry action team initially has focused on planning the UM Laboratory for Integrative Knowledge (U-LINK), a university-wide platform for incubating ideas, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, and providing funding to facilitate new approaches to difficult problems. Currently, the action team is designing U-LINK’s inaugural grant competition, which, set to launch later this year, will invite interdisciplinary groups to seek funding for novel, solution-oriented projects. In the longer term, U-LINK is envisioned as not only a funding source, but also a physical space where scholars from disparate disciplines can productively “collide” in an inspirational setting conducive to developing and pursuing their projects.

To further support the initiative, action team member Susan Morgan, the associate dean for research and former director of the Center for Communication, Culture and Change at the School of Communication, has been appointed associate provost for research development and strategy. In this new role, Morgan will serve as an integral component of the U’s research infrastructure and will play an important part in the development of U-LINK.

The action team is also planning an August retreat to further the initiative’s implementation and identify members of an advisory group who can counsel the action team on U-LINK’s structure and assist in the proposal review process for the grant competition.

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