UM News Brief: Reinventing Higher Education Conference, Kamala Harris calls for ceasefire and SpaceX

UM News Brief for 3/4/2024 Photo credit: Roberta Macedo

This Week At The U

UMiami Hosts Reinventing Higher Education Conference

Administrators from the University of Miami had the unique opportunity to host the Reinventing Higher Education Conference at the Newman Alumni Center on Thursday Mar. 7th and Friday Mar. 8th.

This conference welcomed educational leaders and experts from around the world, and has taken place at universities in Cape Town, Rome, and Madrid, among others. This year the conference came to the shores of Miami for its 14th installment.

Preparation for the event was handled by University of Miami President, Julio Frenk, dean of the School of Education and Human Development, Laura Kohn-Wood, and vice provost for educational innovation at the University of Miami, Kathi Kern, as well as IE University of Madrid, who UM partnered with to host the conference.

From the first keynote speaker, Eric Mazur, a Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University, to the final discussion moderated by Joe Podolny, former Vice president at Apple and former Dean of Yale Business School, the conference was full of insightful knowledge for educators.

While also hosting and displaying other educational leaders, some UM Faculty had an opportunity to show off their exceptional work as well.

This was the case for both Dr. Wesley Smith, professor in the school of education and human development, and Dr. Karen Rose Mathews, Associate Professor of Art History. Dr. Smith described his most recent innovations in digital health care while Dr. Mathews taught conference attendees how to implement virtual reality into art history.

In Case U Missed It

Vice President Kamala Harris calls for ceasefire deal

Last week, the Biden administration brought out Kamala Harris to express their continued support for a ceasefire in Gaza as talks seemed to have stalled. This is one of the vice president’s first major public appearances in the last six months and she did not mince her words.

“What we are seeing every day in Gaza is devastating,” Harris said “We have seen reports of families eating leaves or animal feed. Women giving birth to malnourished babies with little or no medical care. And children dying from malnutrition and dehydration. As I have said many times, too many innocent Palestinians have been killed.”

There were even reports that the national security council had to tone down her speech, but the vice president’s office denied that.

The speech took place in Selma, Alabama and it is a continuation of President Biden’s almost month-long push for a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas. This push began in mid-February as negotiators from Israel, Egypt, Qatar and the U.S. worked on a deal which would return 30 to 40 Israeli hostages in exchange for 300 Palestinian prisoners and a six-week ceasefire. While Israel has agreed to the deal according to Biden, Hamas still hasn’t and Harris touched on that as well.

She urged Hamas to accept the deal while also urging Israel to allow more aid to flow into Gaza as it is becoming a “humanitarian catastrophe.” The Biden administration hoped to have a ceasefire deal agreed to around the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (March 10th), but that is looking increasingly less likely.

SpaceX sends four astronauts to the international space station

SpaceX sent four new astronauts to the international space station Sunday to replace another crew of four. The crew will spend six months on the space station and oversee the arrival of Boeing’s new Starliner capsule and Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser.

These ships were ordered to the station by NASA and the first one will arrive in late April with the next coming one to two months later. The Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, hosted the launch of NASA’s Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt and Jeanette Epps and Russia’s Alexander Grebenkin in SpaceX’s Falcon rocket. These astronauts will replace a crew of astronauts from the U.S., Denmark, Japan and Russia who have been there since August.

The launch was delayed for three days because of high winds and it was almost delayed again Sunday because of a small crack in the seal. Luckily, after some last minute reviews, the rocket was confirmed to be safe. Epps will be just the second Black woman assigned to a long station mission and it will also be her first time in space. Grebenkin and Dominick are also space newbies, but Barratt is on his 3rd mission to space and is the oldest full time astronaut to fly in space at 65 years old.