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Senate Salutes Faculty for Their Enduring Impact

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Senate Salutes Faculty for Their Enduring Impact

UM News

faculty senate awards 2016

From left are Eugene Schiff; Laurence Sands; Kristin Podack, widow of the late Eckhard Podack; and Richard L. Williamson, Jr.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 12, 2016)—The Faculty Senate last week bestowed its highest honors on Laurence R. Sands and Eugene R. Schiff, two pioneering physicians at the Miller School of Medicine, and Richard L. Williamson, Jr., a professor of law known for his pro bono service and international collaborations. For the first time, the Senate also conferred a Special Senate Award posthumously, recognizing Eckhard Podack, the late researcher at  Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, for his life-saving discoveries.

The annual Faculty Senate Awards ceremony took place April 11 in Storer Auditorium at the School of Business Administration. Senate Chair Tomás A. Salerno, chair gave remarks before a welcome video message from UM President Julio Frenk was broadcast.

“While I regret I cannot be with you in person today,” Frenk said, “I’m deeply honored to send this message recognizing four distinguished faculty members who have made a significant and enduring impact on our students, the University, and the creation of new knowledge as our most valuable product.”

Podack, a distinguished cancer researcher and educator at Sylvester, died October 8. His widow, Kristin,  accepted the Special Senate Award, presented by Miller School of Medicine Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, in behalf of her husband. As Frenk noted in his video message, Podack was “a valued colleague and friend as well as a pioneer in the field of cancer research. His discoveries have translated into clinical treatments that will continue to restore hope and extend life for many individuals.”

The chair of the Miller School’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology for 21 years, Podack was  honored for his dedication to teaching and the huge impact his discoveries have had on improving treatment for cancer patients. Perhaps the most significant were the discoveries of Perforin-1 and, more recently, Perforin-2 — antibacterial proteins that help the body’s immune system defend against infectious disease.

A native of Germany and a fellow in the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy who became interested in cancer research at an early age, Podack joined the Miller School in 1987 and became department chair in 1994. In the early 1990s, he created a monoclonal antibody to seek out and attach to CD-30, a receptor on lymphoma cells. He later sold the technology to Seattle Genetics, which developed SGN-35, a therapy designed to target only cancer cells, leaving healthy tissue alone.

He also developed a novel lung cancer vaccine using gp-96, a heat shock protein, to treat non-small cell lung cancer, which accounts for most lung cancers, as well as tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) 25 agonists and antagonists that allow the immune system to attack cancer cells more effectively.

Williamson received the James W. McLamore Outstanding Service Award, presented by Senate Vice Chair Linda L. Neider and named for the cofounder of Burger King, for “service above and beyond the call of duty”–a hallmark of Williamson’s life. He is known for his gift for mentoring and his devotion to pro bono and community service.

Thanking Williamson for his “exceptional dedication to our University and beyond,” Frenk said, “In addition to your stellar 28 years of teaching and scholarship at the U, you have served in numerous leadership roles, including chair of the Faculty Senate for the second longest term in UM history.”

Serving as chair of the Faculty Senate from 2009-2014, Williamson also has served as associate dean of the School of Law, interim chair of the Department of International Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, and faculty advisor to the School of Law’s Honor Council.

As a former foreign service officer and division chief of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, he has used his extensive international experience to establish international liaisons between Miami Law and numerous international universities. Intended to be short-term, the initial intensive exchange seminar he organized between Leipzig University and UM is in its 14th year, and has led to the establishment of 17 semester-long exchange programs on four continents.

A treasured mentor to students here and abroad, Williamson also has employed his legal skills to advance the environment and international understanding. He drafted the founding documents and policy statements for UM’s Jayne and Leonard Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, and has hosted foreign high school students through Rotary International, for which he is a frequent speaker. The Rotary Club has recognized his selfless contributions by naming him a Paul Harris Fellow, an honor usually reserved for members.

As a member of the Opa-locka Brownfields Advisory Committee and chair of its Legal Sub-Committee, Williamson drafted policy documents and recommendations to help the community more efficiently utilize abandoned and contaminated property holdings. Through his efforts, Opa-locka was selected as one of the EPA’s showcase cities and received additional funding for assessing the use of brownfields to be used for green space purposes.

Williamson earned an A.B. in 1967 from the University of Southern California, an M.A. in 1977 from American University, and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1984. He received an honorary Doctorate of Laws (Doktor der Rechte (h.c.)) from the University of Leipzig in 2013. Prior to coming to Miami Law, he spent four years as an attorney with the law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton.

Sands, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center professor of clinical surgery, chief of the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery, and vice chair of medical education in the Department of Surgery at the Miller School of Medicine, received the Outstanding Teaching Award, presented by Laurence B. Gardner.

Sands has a distinguished record and commitment to providing students with the highest quality education and for inspiring them to strive for success. A leader in the use of minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery for colon cancer, he is involved in every element of surgical education for medical students and post-graduate trainees and is known for using his energy and talent to provide students with the best education at every opportunity. For example, in response to a major concern of residents and students about the balance of clinical service and educational opportunities, he reorganized clinical/surgical rotations to increase educational opportunities.

Demonstrating their gratitude for his inspiration and dedication to their education, the Miller School’s 2011 graduating class selected Sands for the 2010 George Paff Teaching Award.

Describing Sands as a “brilliant surgeon” and an “inspirational teacher,” Frenk also praised him for establishing the Laurence R. Sands, M.D. Endowed Research Chair at the Miller School. “You have provided much-needed support for advances in colon and rectal surgery, particularly using noninvasive techniques, to continue in perpetuity.”

Schiff, Leonard Miller Professor of Medicine, Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid chair in the Division of Hepatology, the director of the Schiff Center for Liver Diseases, and the director of the Hepatology Research Laboratory at the Miller School of Medicine, received the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award, presented by Emmanuel Thomas, an assistant professor at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

A renowned gastroenterologist and of the world’s leading authorities on liver diseases, Schiff was honored for his outstanding scholarly achievements and presented a short lecture on his research, titled “The Eradication of Hepatitis C.”

For decades, Schiff has led the University’s clinical research aimed at developing improved treatments and cures for hepatitis B, C and D, cirrhosis, and the entire spectrum of liver and biliary tract disorders.

In 2011, he became the first holder of the Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid Chair in the Schiff Center for Liver Diseases, the successor to the informal Center for Liver Diseases he and his late father, Leon, established in 1982.

Co-editor of the Eleventh Edition of Schiff’s Diseases of the Liver, Schiff has authored and co-authored more than 400 articles, books, and book chapters concerning liver diseases and related topics. He is a former president of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (his father was the first president), past chairman of the Biliary Section of the American Gastroenterological Association and past governor of the American College of Physicians for the state of Florida, a post he held for four years. He was a member of the Gastroenterology Subspecialty Board of the American Board of Internal Medicine and former Chair of the FDA Advisory Committee on gastrointestinal drugs. He is also the recipient of numerous honors and awards.

Frenk congratulated Schiff on being honored for his “47 years of remarkable energy, insight, and productivity.”

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7th Annual International Legal Symposium on the World of Music, Film, Television, and Sports on April 7-8

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 29, 2016) – Rhodes Scholarretired NBA player, and former U.S. Congressman Tom McMillen will be one of the keynote speakers at the 7th Annual International Legal Symposium on the World of Music, Film, Television, and Sports, April 7-8. McMillen is the CEO and president of the Division 1 NCAA Athletic Directors Association. He will be joined by Marc Trestman, J.D. ’83, offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, and Peter Dekom, Esq. of  Peter Dekom, a Los Angeles law corporation.

The symposium is presented by the University of Miami School of Law Entertainment and Sports Law Society and The American Bar Association Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries. Topics for the two-day symposium include ethics in entertainment law, copyright and trademark litigation, confidentiality and wealth protection for high-profile sports and entertainment clients, and music touring and festivals. View the program schedule.

Trestman translated his law degree to a career on the field. “My 35-year journey coaching football really began my first day of law school in the fall of 1979 when Dean Soia Mentschikoff illustrated and explained to the first-year class how to ‘brief’ a case,’ ” he said. “I am so grateful for the time spent at UM; the skills I developed through my law school education have helped me in every phase of my coaching career. The resiliency, preparation, organizational, teaching, and communication skill set have been utilized by me in my daily tasks as a professional football coach.”

The symposium will be held at the Shalala Student Center on the Coral Gables campus, 1330 Miller Drive. Parking is available at the Pavia Garage, 1500 Pavia Street, off the main entrance to the University on Ponce de Leon Boulevard.

The symposium will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is open to the public and costs $375, $300 for ABA members, and $250 for sponsor members. Fifteen CLE credits are pending approval. For registration, visit Shop ABA.


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Incarceration Issues Take Center Stage


Incarceration Issues Take Center Stage

PrisonCORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 8, 2016)—From local coverage in the Miami Herald about wretched conditions in a Florida women’s correctional facility to the Department of Justice Review of Solitary Confinement, which analyzed practices within institutions across the country, scrutiny of conditions within our nation’s prisons has steadily intensified and become more mainstream. The heightened focus on prison conditions can be attributed to widespread national attention on the multi-dimensional issue of mass incarceration.

On the evening of Friday, March 18, the School of Law’s Race & Social Justice Law Review’s “Mass Incarceration: Prison Conditions and the Collateral Damage to Communities of Color,” panel will bring together academics, activists, and attorneys to discuss the conditions under which inmates live, the legal, economic, political, social, and psychological implications of over-incarceration in U.S. prisons and jails, and potential solutions.

“This year’s panel will provide a timely, focused discussion on various issues related to prison conditions and the collateral effects imprisonment has on the communities to which the inmates return upon release,” said Janyl Relling, editor-in-chief of the University of Miami Race & Social Justice Law Review. “It seems that now, more than ever, these issues are making headlines in local and national news media. It is important that students, academics, members of the legal community, and the community-at-large be informed about the multi-layered phenomenon to better advocate for systemic change.”

The panel, which will take place from 5 to 8 p.m., will be followed by a reception from 8 to 10 p.m. in room E352 at the University of Miami School of Law, 1311 Miller Drive, Coral Gables, Florida.

The panel will open with a segment titled, “The Tragic Case of Kalief Browder,” providing an intimate look at the circumstances surrounding the imprisonment of a 16-year-old boy at Rikers Island—the infamous adult correctional facility in New York. The harrowing story of Browder’s traumatic ordeal and tragic death will be told by Paul Prestia, attorney for Kalief’s family. The panel of experts will then engage in an in-depth discussion of “Current Conditions in U.S. Prisons,” and “The Impact of Prison Conditions on Minority Communities.” The panel will end with “Discussion of Potential Reforms.”

Panelists include University of Michigan’s Henry M. Butzel, professor of law; Margo Schlanger, the presidentially appointed officer for civil rights and civil liberties at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; American University Professor of Law Brenda V. Smith, director of The Project on Addressing Prison Rape; the founding executive director of the Florida Justice Institute, Randall C. Berg, Jr., Esq.; the founder and executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center and editor of Prison Legal News, Paul Wright; and criminal defense and civil rights abuses attorney Paul Prestia, Esq.

Online registration and more information about the speakers and the event agenda is available on the event website. Three general CLE credits are available to registrants at no cost. The event is free and open to the public. Scholarship from the event will be featured in Volume VI of the Review.


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‘We Robot 2016′ to Address Legal and Policy Issues


‘We Robot 2016′ to Address Legal and Policy Issues

UM News

We RobotCORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 1, 2016) – Would Robo Cops eliminate racial bias or merely reflect the systemic nature of racism? Do human-robotic systems inherently feature “moral crumple zones” where the human bears the brunt of liability when the robot fails? Is Siri protected by the First Amendment? These and other timely topics will be discussed, debated, and dissected at We Robot 2016, a conference at the intersection of law, policy, and robotic technology that will be held April 1-2 at the University of Miami’s Newman Alumni Center.

Hosted by UM’s School of Law, the symposium builds on existing scholarship that explores how the increasing sophistication and autonomous decision-making capabilities of robots and their widespread deployment in homes, hospitals, public spaces, and battlefields requires rethinking existing legal and policy structures.

“We Robot has forged a community of researchers who are working to make the introduction of robots into every walk of life as painless as possible,” said A. Michael Froomkin, the Laurie Silvers and Mitchell Rubenstein Distinguished Professor of Law at UM and Program Chair for We Robot 2016. “This is no small task, since robots disrupt our assumptions about responsibility, liability, and even humanity.”

Froomkin; Ryan Calo, co-director of the UW Tech Policy Lab; and Dr. Ian Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law, and Technology at the University of Ottawa, are editors of Robot Law. The book, which will launch at the conference’s special series of workshops on March 31 at Miami Law, includes contributions from engineers, lawyers, philosophers, and active military personnel, and covers topics ranging from sex robots to robot physicians.

“Policymakers of all kinds are already writing rules for drones, driverless cars, and other robots,” said Calo. “We have an obligation as a community of interdisciplinary scholars to provide guidance.”

Registration is limited to 150 people, with additional seats reserved for UM faculty and students.

All March 31 Workshops will be held at the School of Law, 1311 Miller Drive, on the Coral Gables campus, with the April 1-2 events being held at the Newman Alumni Center, 6200 San Amaro Drive.

The cost is $35. Sign up at the conference’s registration page.


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Michael Higer, J.D. ’85, Named President of the Florida Bar for 2017

Michael Higer

Michael Higer

The Florida Bar has named Michael J. Higer, J.D.’85, president for 2017. The Miami Beach native will be sworn in at the Florida Bar Convention in Orlando in June to lead the more than 100,000 member organization.

“We are delighted to have another Miami Law alumnus as president of The Florida Bar,” said School of Law Dean Patricia D. White.

While at Miami Law, Higer served as editor of the University of Miami Law Review, was a member of the Trial Advocacy Program, and graduated cum laude.

“I am extremely honored and humbled to be representing Miami Law and the U as president-elect designate of The Florida Bar,” said Higer, a partner at Berger Singerman’s Dispute Resolution Team. “Miami Law is where I learned to be a critical thinker and met some of my best friends and colleagues. It is where my love for the law blossomed.  My law school education at Miami Law was and is the foundation for my career.”

Higer is a both an experienced commercial litigator and civil trial attorney admitted to practice in Florida, Washington, D.C., and the United States Supreme Court. He has been an active member of the Florida Bar, serving on the Board of Governors and the Executive Committee.

After law school, Higer worked as a commercial litigator at Fine Jacobson Schwartz Nash Block & England before joining Coll Davidson Carter Smith Salter & Barkett, where the founding shareholders named him the first non-founding shareholder. In 2006, he formed Higer Lichter & Givner. He joined Berger Singerman in 2014.

Both the Associated Press and Daily Business Review announced the appointment.

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