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Miami Law Presents ‘American Promise’ Documentary at the Cosford Cinema

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 7, 2014) – In the U.S. today, African-American students across all income levels score an average of 25 points lower than their white counterparts on standardized tests. This is known as the racial achievement gap, and is often just the beginning of lifelong inequalities shaped and impacted by the social construction of race. The group for which this phenomenon has been most often documented in the American school system is African-American males.
American Promise spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, New York, turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way through one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys’ divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation at Manhattan’s Dalton School, this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America’s struggle to come of age on issues of race, class, and opportunity.
American Promise used the compelling story of two middle-class black families at a private school to tell a much larger story about access—social, economic, political, even—and how that access breaks down by race in our country,” said Miami Law Professor and organizer Osamudia James. “As such, we are honored to bring the documentary, and Michèle Stephenson, one of the documentary’s directors and subjects, to campus.”
The film will screen on Thursday, October 23, at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:45) at the Bill Cosford Cinema, 5030 Brunson Drive, Memorial Building, room 227, Coral Gables, FL 33124-2105. The lecture by Stephenson, will be held Friday, October 24, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at Student Activities Center, Senate Room. Both events are free and open to the public.
American Promise was an Official Selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and winner of the Grand Jury Award at the 2013 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. It is a co-production of Rada Film Group, ITVS, and POV’s Diverse Voices Project, part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, made possible by CPB.
“All American families want to give their children the opportunity to succeed,” said Stephenson, the film’s co-producer and co-director. “But the truth is, opportunity is just the first step, particularly for families raising black boys. We hope American Promise shines a light on these issues.”
“Our goal is to empower boys, their parents, and educators to pursue educational opportunities, especially to help close the black male achievement gap,” said Brewster, co-producer and co-director.
The screening and lecture is hosted by the University of Miami School of Law, UM School of Education and Human Development, the UM American Studies Program, UM Miami Educational and Psychological Studies, UM Students for Education Reform, Palmer Trinity School, the UM Office of Academic Achievement, and the Woodson-Williams-Marshall Association.

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UM Ranks Among the Nation’s Best for Hispanic Students

UM News

Ranked No. 2 this year, tHe Miller School of Medicine has been in the top five of HispanicBusiness's best schools for Hispanics students since 2005.

Ranked No. 2 this year, the Miller School of Medicine has been in the top five of HispanicBusiness’s best graduate schools for Hispanics since 2006.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (August 28, 2014)­—The University of Miami stands out among the “cream of the crop” for Hispanic students seeking advanced degrees, according to HispanicBusiness Magazine, which selected the top 10 graduate programs in medicine, business, law, and engineering at institutions of higher learning across the nation for its 2014 Annual Diversity Report.

Only 40 schools made the prestigious list in at least one of the four disciplines, but UM had the distinction of being one of only two universities with three programs in the top 10, a near sweep. The Miller School of Medicine ranked No. 2 in the nation, Miami Law came in at No. 3, and the School of Business Administration placed eighth.

Published online August 20, the rankings are based on five categories, including the percentage of Hispanic students and faculty in each program and the efforts the programs make to attract and retain the students. “The schools on our lists are well-rounded and have made notable efforts to engage the Hispanic community,” the magazine said.

The Miller School, which has ranked among the top five in the nation for Hispanics since 2006, “has always had a goal of attracting and supporting a student demographic that mirrors the community and population we serve,” said Alex J. Mechaber, senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education and associate professor of medicine. “The ranking is a testament to that.”

Added Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, “As medicine is becoming increasingly global, the medical schools that are at the top of this list are the ‘next best schools’ of the U.S. Our commitment to diversity, a key value for our University, drives our efforts to engage and support the Hispanic community.”

The School of Law is proud of its long-standing commitment to diversity and equality. Standing at the crossroads of the Americas with a focus on serving students and having faculty and staff from a multitude of cultures and backgrounds, the school offers an abundance of opportunities that enhance a student’s legal education. Whether it is through the International LL.M. programs, J.D. curriculum or short courses for foreign lawyers, the school provides an educational environment that is diverse, inclusive, and one that promotes cross-cultural competencies.

“We are very proud to be consistently ranked in the upper echelon of law schools that serve the widest range of communities,” said Dean Patricia D. White. “The best law schools are those that nurture cultural competencies, preparing students for an increasingly complex and global world. I am very happy to say that our law school is one of those and will continue to stay true to this commitment.”

At the School of Business Administration, which has made the list for five consecutive years, Dean Eugene Anderson said the school is proud of its commitment to providing an inclusive and supportive environment for all students. “A diverse community, in the broadest possible sense, is essential to the character of our school, the ideas that we generate, the education and professional development of our students, and the contribution that both make to business and society,” he said.

Among services the school provides to Hispanic graduate students is career counseling, including scholarships to attend the annual career fair of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA). The School’s Ziff Graduate Career Services Center also provides a student liaison for the South Florida NSHMBA Chapter, connects Latin American students with Latin American companies for employment, and provides networking opportunities and panel discussions through the Latin American Business Association. The school also offers the NSHMBA University Partnership Program Scholarship to select applicants who demonstrate a commitment to the Hispanic community.


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Professor Osamudia James Named to Lawyers of Color’s 50 Under 50 List

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 7, 2014)—School of Law Professor Osamudia James has been named to Lawyers of Color’s 50 Under 50 list, published in the April 7 “Law School Diversity” issue. The listing is a comprehensive catalog of minority law professors who are making an impact in legal education.

“It is a privilege to be recognized as an influential minority law professor under 50,” said James. “Academia has given me opportunities to participate in important dialogues about how identity and the law interact in the United States, and it is affirming to know that my contributions to those conversations are valued.”

James writes and teaches in the areas of education law, race and the law, administrative law, and torts. Her more recent work includes “White Like Me: The Diversity Rationale’s Negative Impact on White Identity Formation,” which will be published in the New York University Law Review; “Opt-Out Education: School Choice as Racial Subordination,” to be published in the Iowa Law Review; “Predatory Ed: The Conflict Between Public Good and For-Profit Higher Education;” and “Dog Wags Tail: The Continuing Viability of Minority-Targeted Aid in Higher Education.”

“Osamudia James is a truly gifted teacher and scholar whose leadership in the national conversation about education and race is really important,” said UM School of Law Dean Patricia D. White.

In January, the American Association of Law Schools’ Minority Groups Section named James co-recipient of the 2014 Derrick A. Bell, Jr. Award, which recognizes a junior faculty member who, through activism, mentoring, colleagueship, teaching, and scholarship, has made an extraordinary contribution to legal education, the legal system, or social justice. The award is named in honor of the first tenured African American law professor at Harvard Law School, who co-founded Critical Race Theory.

“Teaching is an awesome responsibility, as it means I play an important part in shaping the way my students understand both the law and their role in our legal system,” said James. “Being an educator, however, is also a joy—nothing matches the delight of witnessing students transform into attorneys, knowing that I was able to help them realize their potential as lawyers.”


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School of Law Students Win Prestigious Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot Court Championship

From left are the School of Law's third-year student, Joseph Matthews, Coach Andrew Riccio, second-year student Benjamin Keime and third-year student Abirami Ananthasingam.

From left are School of Law third-year student Joseph Matthews, coach Andrew Riccio, second-year student Benjamin Keime, and third-year student Abirami Ananthasingam.

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 19, 2014)— For the second time, the University of Miami School of Law’s moot court team won the Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot Court, which ended in a tie. UM Law’s team, second-year student Benjamin Keime and third-year students Abirami Ananthasingam and Joseph Matthews, shares the top prize—including scholarships to The Hague Academy of International Law—with the distinguished Sciences Po Law School in Paris.

The competition, considered one of the most prestigious international student competitions with a focus on investment protection, was hosted by Goethe-University Frankfurt in Germany.

Throughout the week of March 10-14, the UM School of Law team competed against 41 law school teams from countries around the world, including Bulgaria, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, and the United Kingdom.

“The highlight of the competition was arguing in front of some of the most prestigious practitioners in the field of international law and competing against some of the most elite schools in the world,” said Ananthasingam, vice president of UM’s International Moot Court and president of the International Law Society. “As the rounds became more and more difficult, the more the depth of Miami Law’s knowledge and advocacy skills shone through.”

The Frankfurt Moot Court serves as a platform for students who want to compete on an international level and have a passion for investment protection. Teams present their arguments orally before tribunals of arbitration composed of investment treaty specialists.

“I have worked with Abirami and Joseph for two years already,” said Paula Arias, director of the International Moot Court Program. “They competed last year on a different moot, and we won best oralist and best memorial. The students wanted to compete again because they enjoyed it so much. This year, I decided to give them the opportunity, and I selected them, along with Benjamin, to compete in Frankfurt. I knew they would work hard and do everything necessary to succeed in Germany. And I was not wrong.”

Investment protection has increasingly become a hot topic in the international community and has been recognized as one of the more intellectually challenging branches of international law.

“The Frankfurt Moot is an amazing opportunity, as it attracts such a diverse pool of international schools,” said Matthews, who is president of UM’s International Moot Court.

“The fact that it is free to participate in allows an intense depth of global perspective, which creates a truly remarkable atmosphere,” he continued. “Our quarterfinals against Gujarat University India was intense; they ultimately won best Asian regional team and really tested our ability to adjust our arguments to their unique style and answers. Our semifinals against Norman Manley Jamaica was also a nail-biter. Not only were they our biggest threat going into this competition, but our round against them was a rematch from 2011, when Miami also went head-to-head against Jamaica in the semifinals. The Jamaicans proved to be formidable adversaries, as they won best team for a Non-OECD country and also best team from the Caribbean region. But ultimately Miami mustered through with a win and moved onto the finals.”

The team was coached by L Andrew S. Riccio, J.D. ’11, an associate with Assouline & Berlowe, where he practices international arbitration and litigation. He was a member of the UM team that competed and won in Frankfurt in 2011, the last time UM Law clinched the competition.

“It was an honor and a pleasure for me to return to Frankfurt,” Riccio said. “Coaching this talented team was a fantastic experience, and I am, of course, so thrilled with the outcome.”

Arias said that Riccio started working with the team over the summer. “It was the first time Andrew was leading the team as coach, which makes me extremely happy because I can see how much the students can learn from former students,” Arias said. “I have only words of appreciation for all the dedication Andrew put into this year’s team.”

Arbitrators Charles Brower of 20 Essex Street, Abby Cohen-Smutney of White & Case, and Judge Awn Al-Khasaweh of the International Court of Justice judged the UM School of Law team.

“We were shocked when Science Po France beat George Washington University in their own semifinal match,” Matthews said. “Miami and George Washington both tied in the Washington, D.C. pre-moot, and we as a team were really impressed by how well-versed GW was in the case.”

Each member of UM’s moot team receives a three-week placement at The Hague Academy of International Law.

“The International Moot Court Program prepares our students to be great lawyers and gives UM recognition as a great school in international law,” Arias said.


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With Generous Gift, Alumna Hilarie Bass Hopes to Inspire Future Law Students

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With Generous Gift, Alumna Hilarie Bass Hopes to Inspire Future Law Students

Hilarie Bass

Hilarie Bass

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 20, 2014) —  As a lawyer in training at the University of Miami, Hilarie Bass grew to love the area in the School of Law quadrangle known as The Bricks. Now, thanks to a generous $1 million gift to the School of Law from the UM alumna and trustee, the hub of student life at Miami Law is getting a new name: “The Bass Bricks.”

“It was important to me to give back to this institution that played such a crucial role in my development as an attorney and shaping the person I am today,” said Bass, co-president of the international law firm Greenberg Traurig and a member of the School of Law’s Visiting Committee and Momentum2 Campaign Committee. “I chose the Bricks because it’s the center of campus life at the School of Law, and I have fond memories of the time I spent there. I hope that future students who gather there will leave inspired to fulfill their own dreams and go on to great success within the legal community.”

Bass’s contribution, which is part of UM’s Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami, will also honor the value of practical experience and the training that one can receive as a student at Miami Law.

“The law school taught me to solve people’s problems,” she said. “Being a good lawyer is more than just being able to write a great 20-page memo. While detailed legal analysis is the foundation on which everything else is based, clients want a straightforward, two-sentence answer about how you can solve their problems. I have to credit Miami Law with teaching me those important skills.”

Bass is a passionate supporter of the University of Miami. In addition to gifts to the School of Law, her generous contributions have included support for the School of Education and Human Development, the College of Arts and Sciences, and UM Athletics.

“Hilarie Bass’s contributions to this law school community are deep and varied,” said UM School of Law Dean Patricia D. White. “She is a source of wisdom and innovative ideas, she mentors students and makes connections for them and for the institution, she is a wonderfully articulate and committed advocate for the school, and she is unfailingly generous with her time. She is a wonderful role model for lawyers everywhere and it is appropriate that the central gathering space at the school will become ‘The Bass Bricks.’ ”

A ceremony will be held in the fall to officially dedicate “The Bass Bricks” in her honor and to recognize her philanthropy.


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