Thursday, December 18, 2014

St. Thomas Law Selected as one of The 2014 Super Lawyers Top Ten Law Schools

The St. Thomas University School of Law has been selected as one of the 2014 Super Lawyers Top 10 Law Schools for Pro Bono Graduation Requirements. Super Lawyers is an attorney-rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Not only is St. Thomas University in the top ten nationally, but St. Thomas Law is the only law school in South Florida to be ranked in the Top 10.

The focus on pro bono service is in keeping with St. Thomas University’s catholic mission and the law school’s commitment to scholarship, service, and to training lawyers that are sensitive to the needs of the region’s underrepresented communities.

In an effort to provide visibility to outstanding law schools who exemplify excellence in service of others, Super Lawyers put together the Top 10 Law Schools for Pro Bono Graduation Requirements. Super Lawyers has continually made a point to highlight pro bono attorneys who deliver volunteer legal services to the poor, underrepresented or exploited.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Provost Steers Exciting Growth at STU

A national leader in higher education has taken the academic helm at St. Thomas University, joining a leadership team already working on strengthening the University’s position as the leading Catholic university in the Southeast. New Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Irma Becerra is a demonstrated innovator with a broad educational background that spans the fields of engineering, information technology and business. Since arriving at St. Thomas in October, she has been working with faculty and staff in cementing the University in renewed scholarship, and identifying opportunities for growth in burgeoning academic fields.

With a reputation for understanding and responding to today’s marketplace demands, Provost Becerra is working to expand graduate programs in Business, Science, Theology and the liberal arts, and fast-track the development of undergraduate programs focused on addressing in-demand jobs – such as cyber security and sports tourism. More than two dozen new degree programs are in various stages of approval and implementation, with many of the programs coming online next Fall. These courses join current academic offerings, including the newly expanded St. Thomas Online programs. Additional online graduate courses in Business will also be offered in the beginning of the new year.

Helping students achieve success is a focus of Provost Becerra, and that begins with future University students. Already a partner with private and public high schools through an active Dual Enrollment program, Provost Becerra is expanding Dual Enrollment offerings, and working to implement a Career Academies model for Catholic high schools, providing the schools with the latest college prep strategies that will also accelerate their eventual graduation. Together with the Dual Enrollment Program, the Academies will create a seamless transition for Catholic high school students into college, allowing speedier graduation and advancement into graduate coursework. New dual enrollment courses will cover American Government; Comparative Politics; Political Science; and International Relations.

A published academic, Provost Becerra previously served as a Vice President at Florida International University, following a two-decade career in academia that has included leadership positions in and out of the classroom.

New Graduate Programs in Education Now Offered Online

Helping teachers, counselors, and other professionals looking to take their careers to the next level, St. Thomas University has launched several new education graduate degrees designed for the busy professional. A fully-online 36-credit M.S. in Elementary Education degree program delivers the theoretical grounding and leading-edge classroom skills needed to thrive in this field. The program is ideal for working teachers who want to specialize in elementary education; recent graduates who want to earn their teaching license; and candidates making a career change into teaching.

For those looking to open the world to exceptional students, the M.S. in Special Education online program trains professionals in skills that help exceptional students thrive in grades K-12 and into adulthood. The 36-credit online degree can help obtain the initial teaching licensure or enhance existing credentials. Empowering learners with theoretical grounding, assessment tools, and instructional and behavioral-management skills, graduates will be able to compassionately teach and serve students with intellectual, emotional, and/or learning disabilities.

Current professionals looking to become a school principal, corporate trainer, or a transformational leader in a separate field will benefit through the new M.S. in Educational Leadership online degree program. The 36-credit curriculum focuses on the organizational skills, professional knowledge, and operational management abilities necessary for success in academic or corporate environments. From creating annual budgets to implementing professional development programs, students will be trained as an engaged organizational manager.

Teachers know that reading is the foundation of learning. They can gain instructional tools to help K-12 students overcome learning difficulties through the new M.S. in Reading Education online degree. The fully online 36-credit program will develop leadership skills through the five components of reading –phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

The Doctorate in Leadership Management (Ed.D.) combines cutting edge management and leadership theories for practical application. It is ideal for working professionals who seek to enhance their roles as organizational leaders and upgrade their skills in management, emergency planning, research and policy development in a variety of settings. The program offers a cohort model, a cross-disciplinary curriculum, and a broad spectrum of courses to meet individual student needs. A typical cohort could include learners from government, higher education, healthcare, K-12 schools, and the corporate arena. This flexible, online program consists of six-week courses, with students taking one course at a time.

St. Thomas University’s online curriculum has been steadily expanding to help recent high school graduates now in the workforce and those with a number of existing credits wishing to obtain a B.A. or M.S degree. These degrees include B.S. in Fire and Emergency Services, Bachelor’s degree in Health Records and Information Management, B.A. in Organizational Leadership, and a B.A. in Religious Studies – each offered in terms suited for the working professional. For information on St. Thomas University Online programs, visit

Monday, December 15, 2014

St. Thomas Alum Named City of Miami Police Chief

After 27 years contributing to public service, St. Thomas University alumnus Rodolfo (Rudy) Llanes was chosen to lead the City of Miami’s high-profile, 1,150-member Police Department this month. Llanes, 48, came to Miami from Cuba on one of the Freedom Flights in 1970 and became an officer in 1987. His track record includes numerous high-responsibility positions and promotions. His promotion to Chief of Police comes at a critical time as there is a national focus on police-involved deaths, shootings, and excessive force.

Llanes’ highly ethical and professional standards are rooted in our University’s values:  integrity, ethics, social justice, and the pursuit of leadership. “We've all lost that feeling of nobility of what it means to be a police officer,” Llanes said at the press conference announcing his promotion. “That affects everyone, the community and the workforce too. So we’re going to bring that back.”

Chief Llanes is an STU “double alum.” He graduated from St. Thomas University with a BA in Organizational Leadership in 2006 and obtained a Master in Professional Studies in 2014. 

St. Thomas University has graduated over 120 law enforcement and public safety officers in recent years, including current and former chiefs in Miami Beach, Miami-Dade Police Department, Sunny Isles Beach, City of Miramar, Biscayne Park, among others.

Cybersecurity: Up Your Game

In 2013, there were over 42 million cybersecurity related incidents worldwide. Cybersecurity is now a persistent business risk - one that can cost the business sector millions of dollars in losses. Over the past 12 months, some form of cyberthreat has hit virtually every industry sector across the globe.

While the threats increase, there is a shortage of individuals qualified to deal with them. According to a recent report from Burning Glass Technologies, the demand for cybersecurity professionals has grown more than 3.5 times faster than the demand for other IT jobs over the past five years, and more than 12 times faster than the demand for all other non-IT jobs.

Recognizing the need for individuals skilled in detecting and preventing cyberattacks, St. Thomas University is launching undergraduate and graduate programs in Cybersecurity. The multi-disciplinary bachelor and master degrees include coursework in criminal justice, as well as information technology. Blending courses such as Advanced Operations Management and Information System Applications with Infrastructure Security and Secure Software Engineering will yield industry-ready graduates that are poised to become Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSP).

Join the fight against cyberthreats! For more information: Carmen Barberis, at 305 628-6674, or

Friday, December 12, 2014

STU Athletes Give Back to the Community

Bobcat student-athletes have the privilege of competing in college athletics during their four years at St. Thomas University. One of the responsibilities for every Bobcat student-athlete is to embody the five core values - integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership - of the NAIA’s Champions of Character program. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the Bobcats to give back to their community.

As Champions of Character, the Bobcats give back to their community through a variety of service projects. Below is a sampling of some of the most recent work in the South Florida community by Bobcat student-athletes and coaches.

ONE MILLION MEALS: St. Thomas University student-athletes from both the Women's Basketball and Women's Soccer programs, were amongst 4,000 volunteers who helped pack and deliver one million meals for Feeding South Florida in a partnership with the Miami Dolphins and the AARP Foundation on September 22 at Sun Life Stadium. To understand the magnitude of the project, one million meals represents 150,000 pounds of food packed in 4,630 boxes with 36 bags per box and six meals per bag (33 pounds per box). The food was prepared and boxed in a large tent in the parking lot at Sun Life Stadium. After registering, volunteers, including the Bobcat student-athletes, went through a five-minute orientation before entering the large tent, where 100 tables were set up where assembly lines were set up as fortified rice and bean dinners were prepared, bagged and boxed. The meals were then sent out for delivery to disadvantaged older adults throughout South Florida. In addition to the student-athletes from Women's Basketball and Women's Soccer, Head Women's Basketball Coach Albrey Grimsley, Head Women's Soccer Coach Michelle Smith,and Director of Athletics Laura Courtley-Todd volunteered at the event.

MIRAMAR ISLES PARK REHAB: Over 40 St. Thomas University student-athletes spent their Saturday giving back to the community in an all-encompassing rehabilitation and enhancement of Miramar Isles Park in Miramar, Fla. The event was organized by former New Orleans Saints player Ray Shipman's ChampionShips Foundation. The project was part of STU's continued commitment to the NAIA Champions of Character program. Student athletes from Men's Basketball, Men's and Women's Tennis, Men's and Women's Cross Country, Softball and Cheerleading participated in the event. The Bobcats worked on park enhancements ranging from landscaping to repairing basketball nets to painting.

WOMEN’S HOOPS MENTORS YOUTH: The St. Thomas University women's basketball team mentored dozens of young students at the MVP (Mentoring Valuable Proteges) Bask to School Health and Wellness event held on Saturday, September 6 at the Fernandez Family Center for Leadership and Wellness. The Bobcats hosted the program for area youth on their home court where parents and students were presented with classes on exercise, nutrition and sports instruction.

GLADES MIDDLE SCHOOL CAREER DAY: On October 29, St. Thomas University Head Men's Basketball Coach Patrick Gayle and Head Women's Basketball Coach Albrey Grimsley spent Wednesday speaking to students at Glades Middle School in Miramar, Fla. as part of the school's annual career day. The two coaches spoke to the students about their careers in the coaching profession while also providing life lessons and communicating the NAIA's Champions of Character program. Gayle and Grimsley stressed the five core values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership to the Glades Middle students as essential to having a career in sports.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

St. Thomas University Students at the U.S. Tour Operators Association Conference

The U.S. Tour Operators Association kicked off its 2014 Conference and Marketplace at the Waldorf-Astoria Boca Resort on Friday, December 5th, and concluded on Sunday, December 7th. The event was organized by USTOA to present research findings, discuss the association’s activity and development throughout the year, and to plan for future conferences.

Several students from the St. Thomas University Tourism and Hospitality Management Program’s Student Hospitality Association had the opportunity to be volunteers and staff the event. Not only did they spend a day in an internationally acclaimed resort, but they were able to network with many tourism leaders from around the globe.

The conference had 870 international attendees including Germany, Canada, India, China, Ecuador, Peru, Switzerland, and Africa. One hundred sixty tour operators were represented, a record attendance.

The volunteers from STU were Carlos Caro, Huina Tang, Kevin Yming Ding, Melanie Hubert, Phillipe Violland, Sebastian Angelini and Xi Chen. They provided services and duties including registration, meet and greet, translation and general information about the conference and South Florida.

The opportunity was brought to Saint Thomas by Professor Paul-Michael Klein, Program Director of Tourism/Hospitality Management. Prof. Klein presented the chance to many of his students and members of the Tourism and Hospitality club, and many were happy to take it and volunteer. The students said it was a great experience; they were able to interact and network with many people as well as an amazing volunteer opportunity to work at the resort for a day.

St. Thomas Law Professor’s Opinion Published in The Washington Post

On December 4, 2014, St. Thomas Law Professor Jay Silver’s opinion piece was published in the Washington Post. The piece proposed a law requiring the appointment of special prosecutors to handle cases against police. This is in light of recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, NY in which grand juries ruled against indicting police officers whose actions, in both incidents, had deadly consequences.

Professor Silver argued, “there is an inherent conflict of interest in giving local prosecutors so much control over the decision whether to charge police for allegations of bias or excessive use of force - and a compelling need for an independent special prosecutor to handle such cases from start to finish.”

Monday, December 8, 2014

City of Miami Gardens Annual Science & Engineering Fair at STU

The City of Miami Gardens will host their 4th Annual Science and Engineering Fair.  The event, committed to increasing our youth’s reliance on science, is the brain trust of Councilman David Williams Jr., and has become one of the beacon projects in the community.  This year, the Science and Engineering Fair is presented in part by the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. Other noted sponsors include St. Thomas University and Calvin, Giordano & Associates, Inc.

“This event is unlike any other in that it helps to expose students to science, engineering and technology components that will inspire their young minds to seek future endeavors in these fields,” says Councilman David Williams Jr.

Students from various schools throughout Miami Gardens are currently preparing their winning projects. Participants from the Innovative Beginnings in Science (IBIS) Programs include: Golden Glades Elementary School, Crestview Elementary School, Scott Lake Elementary School, Rainbow Park Elementary School, Parkview Elementary School, Carol City Elementary School, Hibiscus Elementary School, Barbara Hawkins Elementary School, and Carol City Senior High School. Students first submit their projects at the school level for judging. There are two requirements for participation: (1) Compete on a school level and be selected as one of the top five participants and (2) Engage male participation (father, brother, uncle, cousin, teacher, or friend) during the development, implementation, and creation of the project. The top five scoring projects at the school level will automatically be entered into the City of Miami Gardens Science and Engineering Fair for judging and ranking at the citywide level.

The event itself is set for Monday, December 8, 2014 with the Science and Engineering Fair Competition, from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. at St. Thomas University, 16401 NW 37th Avenue, Miami Gardens, FL. The Fair concludes on Tuesday, December 9, 2014, with the Science Fair Participant Awards Ceremony to be held from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at the Betty T. Ferguson Recreational Complex, 3000 NW 199th Street, Miami Gardens, FL.

Over 100 students from schools in Miami Gardens are expected to participate for cash prizes ranging from $25 – $500 for the most unique project. Judges from various fields will critique student projects and the top five students will be recognized with cash prizes.

Friday, December 5, 2014

STU Faculty in Miami Art Scene

Prof. Pedro A. Figueredo’s triptych painting Orange Cloud and Rain (2014, Acrylic on canvas) is featured in the ArtCenter South Florida’s ARTstudies Student Exhibition currently being held at the Miami Beach City Hall through December 17, 2014. Curated by the Artistic Director Susan Caraballo, the exhibition showcases selected artworks created by students enrolled in classes and workshops offered at the ArtCenter of South Florida on Miami Beach, Florida. Prof. Figueredo takes painting classes under the guidance of artist Pablo Constrisciani at the ARTstudies program of the ArtCenter South Florida.

At the reception for the exhibition were Miami Beach Commissioner Joy Malakoff and Dennis Leyva, Public Art Coordinator for the City of Miami Beach as well as the ArtCenter South Florida’s Executive Director María del Valle and Education Director Tammy Key Johnston. Also in attendance was Dr. Annette Fromm, Assistant Professor and Museum Studies Coordinator at Florida International University.

Simultaneously, Prof. Figueredo’ s other paintings are on display at the St. Thomas University School of Business reception areas by invitation of Dean Somnath Bhattacharya. Prof. Figueredo has also contributed artwork to St. Thomas University’s Journal of Multidisciplinary Research. This past spring, the Editor-in Chief Dr. Hagai Gringarten invited Prof. Figueredo to join the journal’s editorial staff as Art Editor.

In 2013, Prof. Figueredo published an artist book titled Ballet illustrated with color reproductions of his paintings inspired by the scenarios, characters, music and choreography of ballets. Earlier this year, the book was exhibited at the Bienes Museum of the Book as part of the Florida Artists’ Book Prize Exhibition.

Prof. Pedro A. Figueredo with Miami Beach Commissioner Joy Malakoff pictured in front his triptych painting Orange Cloud and Rain at the ArtCenter South Florida’s ARTstudies Student Exhibition held at the Miami Beach City Hall, November 14, 2014.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

New in 2015: Cybersecurity Degrees

Our School of Business recently announced the creation of The Gary Goldbloom Endowed Chair in Cybersecurity, enabling the University to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in cybersecurity as early as 2015. The Identity Theft Resource Center reports that there have been almost 82 million data records breached so far in 2014. Almost 80% of the records breached were related to businesses. Notable incidents include the theft of Home Depot files containing approximately 53 million email addresses, and JP Morgan Chase’s data compromise that impacted approximately 76 million households and seven million small businesses. Just last week the United States Postal Service announced that a cyberattack affected 800,000 employees and a still undetermined number of customers that contacted their call center this year.

Recognizing the need for individuals skilled in detecting and preventing data breaches, the University is launching an undergraduate and graduate program focused on Cybersecurity. Unlike programs that focus solely on technical aspects of cybersecurity, this multi-disciplinary degree will be sponsored by the School of Business, and include coursework in criminal justice, as well as information technology. The master’s program will be available by early 2015, followed by the undergraduate degree.

STU Delegation Works with Haitian Coffee Partners on Fall Coffee Harvest

A delegation from St. Thomas University has recently returned from working with the University’s coffee-cooperative partners in Miami’s sister-diocese of Port-de-Paix, Haiti.
As part of the University’s long-standing relationship with the Cafeiere et Cacouyere du Nord’Ouest (COCANO) coffee cooperative, St. Thomas University business, communications, theology and political science students have spent the last four years importing Café Cocano in a fair/direct trade relationship. The partnership provides students with a hands-on learning experience of importing and marketing a product from the developing world, while providing rural Haitian farmers with increased profits for their production. The cooperative has grown to include over 300 farming families in its work, has begun providing social services to rural NW Haiti, and has brought living wages to hundreds in the region. (See
New to this Fall’s delegation were representatives from STU’s School of Science studying agronomy and plant biology. As part of the STU School of Science’s collaboration with the US Department of Agriculture, the STU team was exploring ways plant science faculty and students could support the coffee farmers by researching pressing issues in coffee disease and insect management.
Said Paulina Sicius, an STU first-year student interning with the Center for Community Engagement and with an interest in international development: “The trip completely blew my mind. To be able to see the real possibilities for development in Haiti, and witness the amazing leadership of the farmers on the ground, gave me a whole new appreciation for this work.” Leynet Cornelio, an STU Junior studying plant science, concurred: “The delegation showed me how my research in science can be applied in a way that can make a true difference in one of the poorest regions of the Western Hemisphere.”
Coordinated by STU’s Center for Community Engagement, and integrating faculty research, courses, and internships from a variety of disciplines, the STU/Café Cocano project has become a national model for leveraging university learning into international development.