Think tank RAND to help rebuild North-South Center
By Susan Stabley
The RAND Corp. will partner with the University of Miami to restructure the school's Dante B. Fascell North-South Center, the university announced Tuesday.
The name will continue to honor former US Rep. Fascell, pledged UM Provost Luis Glaser, and emphasis on the Western Hemisphere will remain.
"No doubt the area of focus of the North-South Center is, and remains, Latin America and the Caribbean," he said.
It's RAND's first foray into Florida, said Executive Vice President Michael Rich. The Santa Monica-based non-profit research center, with staff of more than 1,600, focuses on international issues and has offices in Washington, DC, and Pittsburgh, plus in Britain, Germany, Qatar and the Netherlands.
RAND, combining the words research and development, was the first so-called think tank. For decades, it analyzed issues including security, infrastructure, education and the environment.
RAND and the North-South Center are complementary, said Mr. Glaser. The center's focus will broaden to add healthcare and medical research to its history as a resource for information on the region's trade and economic policy, migration, democratic governance, security, corruption, environment and information technology.
Both have agreed to a February deadline to hammer out an agreement to how the center will be organized.
"We will jointly pick the leadership," Mr. Glaser said. "It won't be an administrative heavy program."
Created in 1984, the North-South Center employs 13 under Ambler Moss, also an attorney with Greenberg Traurig.
In August, the university announced plans to restructure the center, with its entire staff fired effective Dec. 31, although Ambassador Moss would stay on as a professor.
Contacted Tuesday, Mr. Moss said he was unaware of the deal, though he said he had heard "vague rumors" of talks with RAND.
Dr. Glaser said he wasn't sure if Mr. Moss would be a part of the future center or if any current staff would be rehired. He did confirm that the deal came after the announcement for the center's reorganization. In October, Dr. Glaser traveled twice to California to meet with RAND.
Mr. Glaser and Mr. Rich, the second-in-command at RAND, will work together to reconstitute the center.
Mr. Rich said his group has had a relationship with university President Donna Shalala since the 1970, when she was assistant secretary for policy research and development at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. A phone call from Ms. Shalala to RAND's President James Thomson sparked the deal between the two groups, he said.
"We determined very quickly that our interests were quite similar," said Mr. Rich.
Pedro "Joe" Greer, assistant dean to the university's School of Medicine, also connects the groups. Mr. Greer also serves on the RAND board.
Tony Villamil, CEO of Washington Economics Group and former US undersecretary of commerce for economic affairs, praised the partnership's potential. RAND is a "very prestigious organization," he said. "A top-notch think tank."
Tuesday's announcement, he said, shows that the University is serious about strengthening the center.