I joined the Rosenstiel School as Dean nearly three years ago, with the goal of implementing a strategic plan that was developed before my arrival. We implemented several important changes that needed to be made to ensure the long-term success of our school. The unfortunate financial crisis that afflicted the nation in the past three years did not help make this transition any easier. We have updated our financial model, reorganized the administration, and shifted the focus of some of our activities.
I am very happy to report we are now accelerating on a new track that is taking the school into the future much better prepared to face the challenges that research institutions face in the 21st century. By all criteria used in academia, the school is doing better than it has ever done before. Our success has contributed propelling the University of Miami in the popular ranking published by U.S. News & World Report to Number 38 in the ‘Best Colleges’ issue, rising a remarkable nine positions in the past year, and making it the top-ranked Florida school.
Among many remarkable achievements, I am particularly proud of our educational programs, led by a talented and dedicated team of associate deans and program directors. Our newest class of undergraduate students has grown by 17% with the average SAT higher by 31 points compared to last year. Our Ph.D. student recruitment this year sustained an increase over the 2005-2009 period as a result of the change of financial model and priorities for the school, and their average GRE scores improved by 30 points (following an increase of 40 points last year as compared to the average in the previous 20 years). Finally, our newly developed and implemented Master of Professional Science (MPS) now counts with about 40 students in 12 different tracks.
Our faculty and scientists continue to excel in research grantmanship, garnering funding for specific research projects. Among the research awards obtained, it is worth mentioning the $15M grant received by Professor Tamay Ozgokmen and the research team from the Gulf Research Initiative to study the transport of hydrocarbons in the environment. Our collaborative effort with NOAA under the umbrella of CIMAS was renewed for five years and expanded in scope, and Professor Robert Cowen received a $5M grant under this Institute to study the role that the Pulley Ridge reefs and the northern Gulf of Mexico play in replenishing marine species in the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas. Also worth mentioning is the second consecutive $10M research award obtained by Professor Hans Graber for the operation of CSTARS, which as a result has been modernized and expanded its capacity in the last two years.
Several of our faculty members have been recognized for their scientific activities. Among them: Dr. Kenny Broad was named 2011 National Geographic Explorer of the Year; Dr. Frank Millero was named a Fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science and received the prestigious V. M. Goldschmidt Award from the Geochemical Society; Drs. Bruce Albrecht and Nick Shay were named American Meteorological Society Fellows; and Dr. Jack Fell received the Johann Westerdijk Award from the CBS Fungal Biodiversity Centre of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Last but not least, our Advancement team led by Assistant Dean Rosemary Mann has had an incredibly busy and successful year. Indeed, the total amount of funds raised has increased by an order of magnitude compared to previous academic years — this is not counting the $15M pledges received for our new Seawater Complex.
The School is privileged to be supported by a dedicated and very hard working team of administrators and facility maintenance employees, without whom our achievements would not be possible. Together with our aggressive plan for modernization for the campus, the unique qualifications and skills of our dedicated faculty, staff, students, alumni and your support, the school is poised to achieve an unprecedented success in the coming years. Our goal is simply to become the top Marine and Atmospheric Science school in the country.
Roni Avissar, Ph.D.
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