From the Desk of the Dean – April 2020 – School of Education & Human Development






From the Desk of the Dean - April 2020

As I write this, the world is experiencing unprecedented disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I truly hope that anyone reading this is safe, healthy and withstanding the difficult changes we have all had to make to live, work and celebrate April holidays – I hope those of you who observe - had wonderful Easter and Seder celebrations. This issue of “ENGAGE” is focused primarily on activities of the School of Education and Human Development, prior to the current Coronavirus reality. I hope it can be a welcomed diversion from the daily tragedies upon us.

Please know, however, that the school is extremely engaged in relevant activities including the following:

  • Several faculty members have been consulted by UM and local media to provide expertise related to distant learning with children at home.
  • The SEHD has convened a task force to help the University conduct short and long-term assessments of the quick pivot to online education.
  • In collaboration with our Breakthrough Miami Post-doctoral Fellow Dr. Kilan Asad-Bishop, and Dept of Psychology faculty member Dr. Aaron Heller, the SEHD has received a COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant to assess the impact of the Corona virus on education among low-income families in Miami-Dade.
  • SEHD Department Chair and faculty member Dr. Soyeon Ahn, is collaborating with the Center for Computational Science on second COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant to use social networking data to develop a prediction model of pandemic prevalence.
  • SEHD faculty member Dr. Guerda Nicolas, is examining the impact of COVID-19 on health care workers, with an additional focus on the Haitian community.
  • Our Scholar in Residence Dr. Gigi Gilbert, has written an Op-Ed emphasizing the increased recognition and gratitude for teachers by parents attempting to teach children from home that should result in increased respect and compensation.
  • We are initiating a video series to share our faculty expertise related to psychological, physical and educational well-being with all of you in our SEHD network.

In the coming months we will share the information and outcomes of our COVID-19 related work, as well as provide you with information about how the school is wrapping up the 2019-2020 academic year, and thriving despite the unforeseen challenges we are facing now. While this has been the most surreal, stressful and scary semester I have experienced in my academic career, there have also been incredibly uplifting examples of students, faculty and staff managing to look out for the well-being of others. For instance, many members of the SEHD advocated on behalf of custodial employees for safe and equitable work conditions. Also, SEHD faculty member Professor Claire Zovko who owns a yoga studio in addition to teaching in our Department of Kinesiology, has been offering weekly guided meditation for SEHD faculty and staff – providing a shared experience for decreasing stress and building collective cognitive resilience. Finally, one of our wonderfully engaged alumni friends - Dr. Gary Shaw reached out to us to help facilitate an extraordinarily generous donation to purchase PPE for UHealth employees on the frontlines.

These are just a few of the human and humane responses that make me proud and evermore humbled to be serving as the dean of our wonderful school. I wish you all similar sources and spaces of light despite the darkness.

Be Safe!

All my best,