Briefly Noted

UHealth Doctor Fulfills Olympic Dream

Special to Um News


UHealh Sports Medicine’s Carolyn Kienstra is living her Olympic dream–as a physician.

Carolyn Kienstra, M.D., a pediatric sports medicine physician at UHealth Sports Medicine, is living a dream.

“Olympic gymnastics is the reason I fell in love with sports,” said Kienstra. “I have become a fan of and participant in many other sports over the years, but gymnastics has always been my first love.”

The opportunity to travel to Rio de Janeiro and volunteer as a physician for the athletes is a privilege for any doctor, but to be able to work with the gymnastics events makes it extra special for Kienstra.

“It has been an amazing experience,” Kienstra said. “Every day I think to myself, I can’t believe I am really doing this.”

Kienstra fell in love with gymnastics in the summer of 1992, when the young women of Team USA won a bronze medal and Shannon Miller took home five medals, a feat that had not been accomplished since Mary Lou Retton. Kienstra continued to follow gymnastics, and her love of the sport grew.

Over the next four years, Kienstra and her younger sister started taking gymnastics lessons, watched any gymnastics events they could find on TV, and when that wasn’t an option, they watched replays carefully recorded on VHS tapes.

“My parents really thought we would wear out the tape from the end of the team final in Barcelona,” she said. “We had it memorized word for word. I can actually still remember most of it to this day.”

By the time the Olympics came around again in 1996, Kienstra had become a huge fan. She collected anything she could find associated with the Olympics or gymnastics, including Wheaties boxes, Cabbage Patch dolls and lots of magazines and articles. She even decorated her entire room in red, white and blue.

When the U.S. team, dubbed the Magnificent Seven, earned the first Olympic team all-around gold medal in U.S. gymnastics history in Atlanta, she was watching and cheering for every move.

“It was such a magical night for the team,” Kienstra said.

Kienstra’s love of the sport made the opportunity to cover gymnastics at the Olympics all the more special.

“I can’t believe this opportunity came together as it did,” Kienstra said. “Months ago, when UHealth was first approached to volunteer in Rio, we were all very excited, but we didn’t really know what role we would be playing. Then, a few weeks ago, when I was found out I would get to work with gymnastics, I couldn’t believe it.”

Kienstra has been making the most of her time in Rio, seeing the sites with colleagues and taking in events such as the Opening Ceremony, where she was caught photobombing the Team USA men’s basketball team by USA Today.

“Being at the Opening Ceremony was one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” she said. She is also hoping to see some of the other competitions, including swimming and diving, but gymnastics is still tops on her list.

“I think I spent about 12 hours in the Rio Arena the first day of the women’s qualification just taking it all in,” she said. “As a doctor, I was watching the competition floor for injuries, but I was also a spectator and fan.

“It’s something I’ll never forget, and I’m so proud to share this experience with family, friends and my UHealth colleagues. I’m very grateful for all they have done to organize and make this possible. It is definitely a dream come true.”

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Robert L. Blake Passes Away

Robert. L. Blake

Robert. L. Blake

Robert L. Blake, who served as vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the University of Miami under two presidents, passed away on August 10, leaving an indelible impact on the University and the community.

Blake, who served at the University from 1994 to 2006, under the administrations of Edward T. “Tad” Foote  and Donna E. Shalala, worked on many far-reaching projects  for the greater good of both UM and the community. He reached common ground with our Coral Gables neighbors, leading to the construction and opening of the University Village, an on-campus student apartment project that dramatically changed student residential life.

Along with the late Ken Myers, a life member of the Board of Trustees, Blake drafted the Florida statute and Miami-Dade County ordinance authorizing the referendum to levy a sales tax to benefit the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital. That tax still enables UM/Jackson to deliver the same standard of care to all patients. regardless of their ability to pay.

Prior to joining the UM family, Blake distinguished himself through his outstanding service in the public sector, serving as division chief in the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office and as general counsel to the Public Health Trust. He also helped educate our community’s future leaders by teaching at Barry University and Miami-Dade Community College.

Family and friends are invited to a visitation on Monday, August 15, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Mount Hermon AME Church, 17800 N.W. 25 Avenue, Miami Gardens, Florida, 33056. The service will follow on Tuesday, August 16, at 11 a.m., also at Mount Hermon AME Church. The church’s telephone number is 305-621-5067.

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Hilarie Bass Named ABA President-Elect

Special to UM News


ABA President-Elect Hilarie Bass, J.D. ’81, center, is pictured with other School of Law alumni and ABA leaders, Edith Osman, J.D. ’83, left, a Florida state delgate, and Deborah Enix-Ross, J.D. ’81, right, who chairs the House of Delegates.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA. (August 9, 2016)—University of Miami alumna Hilarie Bass, co-president of international law firm Greenberg Traurig and vice chair of the UM Board of Trustees, assumed the role of president-elect of the nearly 400,000-member American Bar Association at the conclusion  of the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco last week. She will serve a one-year term as president-elect before becoming ABA president in August 2017.

Based at Greenberg Traurig’s Miami office, Bass serves as co-president and a member of the executive committee for the multipractice firm that has approximately 1,900 attorneys across 38 offices worldwide. She previously served an eight-year term as national chair of the firm’s 600-member litigation department.

Bass, who earned her law degree at UM in 1981, has been involved with the ABA for more than 30 years, beginning as a young lawyer and working her way up to become chair of the 70,000-member Section of Litigation in 2010-11. As chair, she spearheaded the creation of a Task Force on Implicit Bias in the Justice System. She has held several other notable positions at the ABA, including serving as chair of the Committee on Rules and Calendar (2012-14), member of the Board of Governors (1990-93), House of Delegates (1988-95, 2000-present), and the Florida representative to the Nominating Committee (2010-present).

“I am honored to take on the position of ABA president-elect and look forward to serving my fellow attorneys, while working to eradicate bias, enhance diversity and advance the rule of law,” Bass said. “Giving back to the profession that has given so much to me is something I feel strongly about, which is why I have dedicated myself to supporting the ABA mission for more than 30 years.”

In her practice, Bass has successfully represented high-profile corporate clients in jury and nonjury trials involving hundreds of millions of dollars in controversy. In recognition of that success, Bass was inducted in 2011 to the American College of Trial Lawyers. She has worked and settled more than 100 cases, tried more than 20 cases to conclusion and argued numerous appeals. Among her significant cases, Bass led the effort to eliminate Florida’s 20-year-old ban on gay adoption, which was found unconstitutional in 2010 and led to the state removing questions of sexual orientation from the adoption application.

Outside of her firm, Bass has led many top legal and community organizations and received numerous awards and accolades. Among them, she is listed in “The Best Lawyers in America,” “Who’s Who Legal: Florida,” and “Chambers USA.” In recognition of her work, Bass has been honored with the Euromoney Legal Media Group’s Outstanding Practitioner Award (2016), silver medallion from the Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews (2011), and C. Clyde Atkins Civil Liberties Award from the ACLU in Florida (2009), among several other awards throughout her career.

A member of the UM Board of Trustees since 2003, Bass is also a passionate and longtime supporter of UM. In addition to gifts to the School of Law, where the brick courtyard long considered the heart of the school is named the Bass Bricks in her honor, she has made generous contributions to support the School of Education and Human Development, the College of Arts and Sciences, and UM Athletics.

Two fellow School of Law alumni also serve in leadership roles with the ABA. Deborah Enix-Ross, a 1981 graduate of Miami Law, chairs the  House of Delegates, and Edith Osman, who graduated in 1983, is a state delegate from Florida.


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New Director of LGBTQ Center ‘Shows Up’


Van Bailey comes to UM from Harvard College.

By Meredith Camel, M.F.A. ’12
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (August 8, 2016)—Van Bailey is not shy about telling people he was once homeless. His gender identity and sexual orientation were at odds with his family’s conservative religious and cultural background, so at age 14, he transferred from his North Carolina high school to a performing arts school with a dormitory he could call home. He then lived year-round at Denison University in Ohio as an undergraduate English and black studies major.

Today Bailey feels right at home at the University of Miami, where he is the inaugural director of the LGBTQ Student Center, located on the second floor of the Whitten University Center on the Coral Gables campus. Set to open during the first week of classes this fall, the center will support the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning students and allies. Previously Bailey served as the inaugural director of BGLTQ Student Life at Harvard College.

Creation of the University of Miami’s LGBTQ Student Center, housed in the Division of Student Affairs, brings to fruition a key recommendation of the LGBTQ Task Force, which has been working with the LGBTQ Implementation Committee since 2013 to make significant changes throughout the University, including last year’s designation of gender-neutral restrooms and a forthcoming gender-inclusive housing option.

“I love working with diverse student populations and have missed being able to talk about intersectionality and how I show up as someone who comes from both Cuban and Jamaican heritage,” says Bailey, who also holds a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs from The Ohio State University and an Ed.D. in educational leadership from California State University-Northridge.

Bailey’s early obstacles with his family—which have been healing over the years—did not dissuade him from being a very visible and confident student leader at Denison, taking on roles such as resident assistant, president of the Black Student Union, and a member of Student Government.

“As an undergrad I didn’t talk about my gender identity or sexuality much; I just showed up,” he says. “I didn’t come wrapped in a rainbow flag or anything; I’ve just always taken the approach of being very open and vulnerable when it comes to my story. That invites people into a space where they feel they can connect with you. They say, ‘If Van can show up as his whole self, maybe I can too.’”

While a doctoral student and residential community director, Bailey and a colleague launched a living-learning program for LGBTQ students to fill a gap in support for this community. That prepped him for his first LGBTQ-focused student affairs job—at the University of California-San Diego—and the realization of his professional calling.

“People ask why I do this work,” Bailey says, “and I say it’s because it’s life or death. Literally. There are students out there who are contemplating their worth every day. I’ve seen students pull themselves out of some really dark places.”

National studies confirm that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are more than twice as likely to commit suicide, and transgender people are more than nine times as likely. Bailey dedicates his life—here on campus and nationally as an invited speaker and member of advocacy group executive boards—to helping people embrace every aspect of their identity.

As the higher education voice on the National Center for Transgender Equality board, he guides conversations about how policies such as Title IX, housing, and facilities affect transgender students. For the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals board, he chairs an initiative to support people of color in LGBT-specific fields (“there aren’t that many of us,” he says) and stresses “the importance of doing identity-based work within identity-based work.”

Bailey is also a diehard feminist who works with national organizations to reduce violence against women and girls—including the California-based Brown Boi Project, which he credits for giving him a new perspective on masculinity and patriarchy as a transgender man.

“One of the things I have to be very cognizant of as I’m transitioning physically is that the more I get seen as male, the more privilege I get,” Bailey says. “It comes up in the ways I’m allowed to take up space and the way my voice can be seen as more weighted than others in the room. That was not always the case.”

As the University of Miami continues to develop a “culture of belonging,” which is a top priority among President Julio Frenk’s Roadmap Initiatives, Bailey sees the LGBTQ Student Center playing a central role. He is eager to partner with other campus organizations to develop programming that fosters identity-based dialogue and breaks down barriers to inclusivity.

“LGBTQ people aren’t a monolith,” Bailey says. “We are diverse and international and have differing abilities. We as a University community are going to work hard for students to feel like they can see themselves in the center, regardless of whether they identify as a Muslim lesbian from Kansas or a Latino gay man from Miami. It’s very important for them to feel they have a safe space where they don’t have to check other identities at the door.”

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Bascom Palmer Ranked No. 1 Eye Hospital for the 15th Time

Special to UM News

BPEIMIAMI, Fla. (August 2, 2016)—Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has again been ranked as the nation’s Best in Ophthalmology by U.S. News & World Report in its Best Hospitals 2017 Edition. It is the 15th time that Bascom Palmer Eye Institute-Anne Bates Leach Eye Hospital has been named No. 1 since the publication began surveying U.S. physicians for its annual rankings 27 years ago.

“Receiving the No. 1 ranking again is a great testament to the tradition of excellence that drives every aspect of Bascom Palmer’s operation,” said Eduardo C. Alfonso, chairman of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. “Drawing on their deep knowledge and experience, our dedicated doctors, scientists, nurses, technicians, and support staff provide high-quality compassionate eye care to our Bascom Palmer patients.”

For more than 50 years, Bascom Palmer has been a leader in providing clinical care and community service to the dynamic South Florida region, while building a national reputation for excellence. In addition, its medical training and education programs attract ophthalmologists from around the world, multiplying the institute’s impact on patient care.

Bascom Palmer’s physicians are internationally recognized in every subspecialty of ophthalmology. With four patient care facilities in Florida (Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, Naples, and Plantation), Bascom Palmer is the largest ophthalmic care, research, and educational facility in the southeastern United States. More than 250,000 patients, from infants to seniors, are treated each year for nearly every ophthalmic condition, and more than 18,000 surgeries are performed annually. The institute serves as the Department of Ophthalmology for the Miller School of Medicine, part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System.

“All of us at the University of Miami are proud of the extraordinary performance of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s physicians, researchers, and staff, year after year,” said Steven M. Altschuler, senior vice president for health affairs and CEO of UHealth. “Their discovery, innovation, and training advance the field of ophthalmology worldwide, and their care changes lives in South Florida and beyond.”

Bascom Palmer researchers and clinicians are at the forefront of precision medicine in ophthalmology, translating basic research from their laboratories into individualized diagnostic and treatment methods tailored to each patient. That collaboration approach has resulted in revolutionary advances in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, retinal diseases, ophthalmic cancers, eye infections, cataracts and diseases of the optic nerve.

Bascom Palmer recently established the world’s first laboratory dedicated to finding cures for diseases of the orbit, the bony structure surrounding the eye. In March, the institute dedicated the Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid Orbital Vision Research Center as the only interdisciplinary, cure-based research center dedicated to transforming the lives of patients with traumatic orbital injuries and malignancies through clinical applications of basic scientific research.

Another milestone will occur this fall with the opening of the Samuel and Ethel Balkan International Pediatric Glaucoma Center at Bascom Palmer. The center is taking a new approach to eradicating pediatric glaucoma by offering genetic research and a multidisciplinary approach to diagnosing and treating the debilitating disease in children.

The rankings are accessible online at www.usnews.com/besthospitals.

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