Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III will serve as Executive Director of St. Thomas University’s new Center for Pandemic, Disaster, and Quarantine Research (St. Thomas PDQ). Mayor Gilbert will play a key role in ensuring the success of the St. Thomas PDQ by creating innovative programming, research opportunities and raising funds for the continued existence of the Center.
“St. Thomas University’s PDQ is designed to be a global repository for information and research so everyone can make better decisions when dealing with a pandemic and quarantine,” STU President David A. Armstrong said. “There needs to be a place that is not driven by politics but by facts and science so politicians, business leaders and others can make informed choices to protect society. From the beginning, I targeted Mayor Oliver Gilbert to lead the PDQ because he is an ethical leader who is known locally and nationally as being a unifier who gets things done!”
Mayor Gilbert was elected to serve as the second mayor of Miami Gardens in 2012, and will complete his second term this year. He is currently a candidate for Miami-Dade County Commissioner. He is the Immediate Past President and Member of the Executive Board of the African American Mayors Association, a Board Member of the National League of Cities, Advisory Board Member of the United States Conference of Mayors, Executive Committee Member of the Miami-Dade County League of Cities, Chairman of the Miami-Dade County Transportation Planning Organization, Chairman of the Southeast Florida Transportation Council and a BMe Community Leader. Mayor Gilbert is a graduate of Florida A&M University and the University of Miami School of Law, from which he graduated with honors.
“This is how as a community, country, and world we make sure there is an active continuum of the core responsibilities of government as well as activities of business and society; we research to understand the problem and create plans that overcome or circumvent the problem,” Mayor Gilbert said.
St. Thomas University first announced the launch of St. Thomas PDQ in April, a quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Thomas PDQ is designed to track the impact of emerging, expanding, and extended pandemics and disasters on socio-economic aspects of society. St. Thomas University professors Jose Rocha, Ph.D. and Todd Clark, J.D., are serving as co-chairs for the Center. Since announcing the launch of the Center, Professors Rocha and Clark have drafted a strategic plan and are exploring opportunities to assist Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida with contact tracing.
Based on four pillars—Business, Law, Ethical Leadership, and Data Analytics—the Center will emphasize timely data, advanced analytics, and effective data representation. STU PDQ will measure, track and analyze the long-term influence of disasters and pandemics on business practices, ethical decision-making, consumer behaviors, crime, societal norms and biases, climate, law, health, government, international relations, and the economy.
In addition, the Center will form data-sharing partnerships and will seek to conduct research in collaboration with companies, institutions, and government to aid in prevention, mitigation, and recovery. Professors Rocha and Clark will select student fellows and will rely upon affiliated faculty for scholarship, teaching and counsel.
“With the rise of COVID-19, the world has faced an unprecedented challenge that has forever altered the way we do business across a variety of sectors. COVID-19 will have a deep impact on our economy, and will forever change our societal norms,” President Armstrong said. “The STU Center for Pandemic, Disaster, and Quarantine Research will serve as a hub for impact studies on pandemics and disasters, and help model and predict how institutions, companies, cities, counties, states, and nations can better prepare and understand the far-reaching effects of these occurrences on our communities.”
St. Thomas PDQ is a multidisciplinary collaboration between St. Thomas School of Law and STU Gus Machado College of Business and two of its institutes: the Victor and Lisa Mendelson Institute for Data Science & Analytics and the Institute for Ethical Leadership. The Center will serve as a repository and expert source on the impacts of pandemics and disasters in each of the relevant disciplines.
“During the Summer 2020 semester, STU School of Law is offering three new law school courses in contracts, real estate, and complex litigation each addressing different cutting edge issues of pandemic lawyering: contracting in crisis, mortgages and foreclosures in crisis, and COVID-19 class action suits,” Tamara F. Lawson, J.D, LL.M., Dean of the STU School of Law, said. “In the Fall 2020 and the Spring 2021 semesters, the law school will offer additional PDQ courses in the area of Constitutional Law, Health Law, and Tax.”
The Center will also serve as a training ground for students across multiple disciplines who will interface with the Center through coursework, and aid in both conducting and analyzing research. Through STU’s Summer Research Institute, students will collaborate with faculty members to conduct research projects related to one or more of the four pillars, or specific projects commissioned by partners.
“Through the St. Thomas PDQ Research Center, our students will gain experiential knowledge by gathering and analyzing data that will provide timely insight and may help serve members of our communities and beyond,” Jeremy Moreland, Ph.D., St. Thomas University Provost and Chief Academic Officer, said. “Our researchers will bring to bear theory and existing research from multiple disciplines to better understand circumstances, actions, and outcomes surrounding such events.”
St. Thomas University is recognized for its big data analytics program and undergraduate and graduate research opportunities. With renowned programs in human rights advocacy, cybersecurity, tax law and internships with the Florida Supreme Court and the United Nations, the STU Law School is at the forefront of innovation and real-world application.
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