Students Gain New Perspectives at Summer Leadership Programs


Ten UM students and three staff members attended the leadership summit at the Walt Disney World Resort.

A select group of UM students participated in various leadership programs hosted by the National Association for Campus Activities across the country this summer, including ten students who attended a summit at Walt Disney World. The programs, which are aimed at promoting student engagement on college campuses and fostering meaningful volunteer experiences, included trips to the S.P.I.R.I.T. (Spirit, Pride, Involvement, Relationships, Impact, Traditions) Institute at Clemson University and the Concert Management Institute at Marquette University.

Representating different UM organizations, the students were grateful for the opportunity to meet and share ideas with fellow students from universities across the country. “It really helped give me perspective into some of the challenges that other universities are facing and how we can improve student spirit at UM,” rising senior Nicholas Kaleel, chair of Category 5, a student organization dedicated to fostering student spirit at UM, said about the S.P.I.R.I.T. Institute in South Carolina he attended with about 150 others.

Ja’Shondra Pouncy, social justice education coordinator at UM’s Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development, described the Summer Leadership Event at the Walt Disney World Resort as “a diverse group of individuals that all care about their work and are working towards a common goal.”

Students representing Hurricane Productions, the Homecoming Executive Committee, and Hurricane Productions Concerts also attended National Association for Campus Activities summer programs and hope their experiences will not only help them in their current roles but also when they graduate and become working professionals.

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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Ranked No. 1 for 14th Time

Special to UM News

BascomPalmerMIAMI, Fla. (July 21, 2015)—For the 12th consecutive year—and the 14th time overall—Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at UHealth—the University of Miami Health System has been ranked the nation’s best in ophthalmology by U.S. News & World Report in its 2015-2016 Best Hospitals edition. Every year since the rankings began 25 years ago, Bascom Palmer has ranked either first or second in the country.

“At Bascom Palmer, the well-being of our patients inspires us to excel in eye care, vision research, education, and clinical innovation,” said Eduardo C. Alfonso, professor and chairman of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. “Receiving the No. 1 ranking for 12 consecutive years recognizes the exceptional expertise of Bascom Palmer’s team. Together, Bascom Palmer’s world-class ophthalmologists, vision researchers, nurses, ophthalmic technicians, and support staff have one goal—to provide the ultimate in compassion and medical care to patients.”

“What Bascom Palmer does—be the best every day, year in and year out—is easy to describe but incredibly difficult to achieve,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Miller School of Medicine and CEO of UHealth. “It requires a shared goal of world-class performance, and the unwavering commitment to meet that goal. We salute Bascom Palmer, with its outstanding faculty, staff and trainees, for consistent excellence in patient care, research, and education in the field of ophthalmology.”

Bascom Palmer’s physicians are recognized international leaders in their fields of expertise in every subspecialty in ophthalmology—diagnosing and treating eye diseases in adults and children. The institute’s clinician-scientists are developing the latest diagnostics and surgical techniques for patients with cataracts, glaucoma, and other blinding diseases. They are also involved in clinical trials using gene therapy, retinal chips, genomics, and stem cell therapy, and are studying genetic mapping of eye cancers to better target treatment.

From the more common eye illnesses to the most complex ocular diseases, Bascom Palmer researchers and physicians are leading the way in finding the underlying causes and genetic factors in ophthalmology, with the goal of then developing the most targeted therapy for each patient. Translating discoveries made in the laboratory to individualized treatments for patients—the hallmark of precision medicine—is leading to quicker results, improved patient outcomes and more hope.

Recently, Bascom Palmer’s surgeons implanted a “bionic eye” in a patient with severe retinitis pigmentosa to achieve a dramatic improvement in vision. Additionally, the Institute’s researchers are conducting laboratory studies on the molecular basis of degenerative diseases of the eyes that hopefully will lead to new clinical treatments, and have already identified key biomarkers in eye cancer that lead to more precise therapies, sparing patients from less effective treatments.

Earlier this summer, Bascom Palmer opened a $25 million, 20,000-square-foot eye center in Naples, Florida. Next year, the Institute will open its first international eye center in Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates, further extending its worldwide leadership in the field of ophthalmology.

In addition to its international reputation as one of the premier providers of eye care in the world, Bascom Palmer is the largest ophthalmic care, research and educational facility in the southeastern United States. More than 250,000 patients are treated each year with nearly every ophthalmic condition, and more than 18,000 surgeries are performed annually. With four patient care facilities in Florida (Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, Naples and Plantation), the Institute serves as the Department of Ophthalmology for the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, part of UHealth-University of Miami Health System.

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

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No Kidding! Dean Recognized Among the Nation’s Best Humor Columnists

Isaac Prilleltensky

Isaac Prilleltensky

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 15, 2015) —An international leader in community  psychology, Isaac Prilleltensky has received many honors for tackling serious societal problems. Now the National Newspaper Association is recognizing the dean of the School of Education and Human Development for his humor, awarding one of his Miami Today musings second Best Humorous Column in its annual writing contest.

As the judges noted, Prilleltensky’s May 2014 column about soccer legend David Beckham’s desire to build a soccer stadium at PortMiami was original, clever, and an obviously planned humorous look at a topic of concern—which few people can pull off well.

“Planned humor, especially with a lightly sarcastic touch, is difficult to write successfully, but this writer succeeds,” the judges noted in selecting the column, headlined “Seal deal for soccer at seaport fast, before the waters rise,” for second place honors in the daily and non-daily division of newpapers with circulations over 8,000.

Among his many honors, Prilleltensky, the Erwin and Barbara Mautner Chair in Community Well-Being, received the Society of Counseling Psychology’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Prevention last year. He is also the author of seven books and more than 120 articles and chapters in numerous professional journals, including The Counseling Psychologist, which dedicated a special issue to his work promoting prevention, well-being, and social justice for such social ills such as poverty and discrimination.

But he regularly flexes his writing muscles—and sense of humor—on a wide range of topics in local newspapers and on his blog, Going Wellnuts: The Humor Blog for Well-Being. And, if Miami Today Publisher Michael Lewis has his way, he won’t be resting on his laurels. “I hope you’ll keep sending your award-winning columns our way,” Lewis wrote in a congratulatory email.

Miami Today, a trusted and well-known source for local business news, will pick up the award in October.


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Alexander Muina Receives 2015 U.S. IDEA User of Excellence Award

Special to UM News

Alex Muina

Alex Muina

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 16, 2015)—Alexander Muina, the assistant director for IT Audits in the Office of Audit and Advisory Services, is the 2015 recipient of the U.S. IDEA User of Excellence Award. The UM alumnus is being recognized for effectively using CaseWare IDEA to achieve organizational goals and involve department leaders in the process of strengthening controls.

Muina began using the data analytic software, which helps auditors and other financial professionals identify fraud, anomalies, and errors, in 2006 to assist auditors in risk planning, transaction testing, and investigations. He quickly realized that using IDEA for exception testing enabled auditors to provide as much as 80 to 90 percent more coverage of transactional data, and increase efficiency levels to focus on exceptions. Using IDEA, Muina helped the University move from periodic, random sampling of PCard transactions to 100 percent coverage. He also worked with department managers to involve them in the exception review and resolution process, which has resulted in new procedures and strengthened internal controls. By streamlining test and review processes, auditors have more time to focus on project planning and control environment reviews, which resulted in more efficient and effective audits.

“IDEA quickly became a staple for our audit department,” said Muina. “We are actively looking for new ways to turn our processes into a more data-centric approach. It gives us the opportunity to work with department managers who follow up on potential issues and conduct their own independent reviews. That level of involvement benefits our organization from the top down.”

Muina was nominated by Audit Director Diane Spiller, who cited his ability to use technology to overcome challenges and address complex processes. Based on the success of the PCard project, auditors are now working with other departments to establish similar projects for other types of data sources throughout the University.

“Alexander Muina has been instrumental in helping us use IDEA to find more efficient ways of testing key areas,” said Spiller. “We are excited to see his approach for using CaseWare technologies to help more areas within our organization.”

Carolyn Newman, president of Audimation Services, Inc., a leader in providing data analysis technology and the sole U.S. distributor of IDEA Data Analysis, CaseWare Monitor, and SmartExporter for SAP, said the company received some compelling nominations this year, but Muina’s ability to use IDEA to improve existing processes really highlighted his capabilities. “His use of technology to help achieve strategic organizational goals is truly impressive and makes him a worthy candidate for this award,” she said.

Prior to joining the University, Muina worked for public accounting firms, including Deloitte and KPMG. During his 15 years of public accounting and internal audit experience, he developed his expertise in financial and compliance auditing, information security, computer forensics, risk management, system integrations, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and data analytics.

During his tenure at the University, he established and implemented the use of computer forensics in the Office of Audit and Advisory Services and continuous monitoring programs using IDEA.

Muina earned a master’s degree in Computer Information Systems from the University of Miami, and bachelor degrees in accounting and finance and international business from Florida International University. He is actively involved with professional groups, including the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), and the Association of College and University Auditors (ACUA).

He will receive the US IDEA User of Excellence Award at an upcoming industry event and will be recognized at the 5th IDEA User Conference in Orlando next May.

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2015 Grad Tal Cohen Is Finalist for Freedman Jazz Fellowship

Special to UM News

Tal Cohen

Tal Cohen

Coral Gables, Fla. (July 2, 2015) — Pianist Tal Cohen, who is from Perth, Australia, and earned his master’s degree in jazz performance from the Frost School of Music this past May, is one of four finalists who will compete for a prestigious Freedman Jazz Fellowship at the Sydney Opera House later this month.

The Freedman Music Fellowships are offered and awarded annually to Australian classical and jazz music instrumentalists. Based on an invite-only process, nominees aged 35 and under are selected by senior industry figures in each state. Those nominated for a Freedman Jazz Fellowship compiled a project proposal, and from this, four finalists were selected to perform at The Studio, Sydney Opera House on July 20. The jazz judges for 2015 are distinguished Australian musicians: bassist Zoe Hauptmann, saxophonist David Theak, and pianist Chris Cody.

Cohen’s project proposal was, in his own words, “a recording session with some of the finest musicians in the world, which I had the privilege to play with and collaborate with in my time in Miami and at the Frost School of Music. I suggested a collaboration between the finest American musicians and the finest Australian musicians to create an amazing recording with many different influences.”

At the end of the July 20 event, one finalist will be announced as the 2015 Freedman Jazz Fellow and will receive a $15,000 fellowship. ABC Jazz will cover the event with photos, interviews, and videos, as well as recording the night for later broadcast. ABC Jazz also has announced that the finalist will be offered three days of studio time in the ABC Sydney recording studios.

Cohen is excited about the opportunity, to say the least. “Leading up to this event, will be extensive media coverage about the four finalists, sharing their stories and recordings. This is a huge opportunity and honor for me,” he said. “Just to be nominated, let alone make the finals, is an amazing accomplishment and playing in the Sydney Opera House with my band is really a dream come true.”

The fellowships are funded by the Freedman Foundation and were conceived by Laurence Freedman and Richard Letts. The first fellowships were awarded in 2001 and until 2013 have been managed by the Music Council of Australia. In 2014, management passed to The Music Trust.

Awards are administered by Sydney Improvised Music Association, a nonprofit organization founded in October 2013.

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