New York woman hired to restructure North-South Center
By Tom Harlan
A New Yorker with ties to education, politics and business is to lead the restructuring of University of Miami's North-South Center into the Center for Hemispheric Policy.
Susan Kaufman Purcell will resign as vice president of the Council of the Americas, a New York not-for-profit business organization, March 11 to lead the restructuring of the public policy center, created in 1984 to analyze global problems with emphasis on the Western Hemisphere.
The university closed the center's Coral Gables office at 1500 Monza Ave. in August 2003 for restructuring after a cut in federal funds. The center applied for $2 million in 2002 but received just $500,000, down from $10 million in 1991.
University officials announced a partnership with RAND Corp., a California research firm, in November 2003, but the center's 13-person staff was fired in December 2003 and doors remained closed.
The center is to change names when it reopens, Ms. Purcell said, to fit a new focus on strong public policy in areas such as economic development, trade and politics.
The center is to be housed in the university's business school, Ms. Purcell said, because it fits nicely with Miami's role as a hub of trade relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. And the center is to draw on faculty and staff from the university's strongest departments to work on hemisphere-related projects.
"I look forward to meeting any experts at the University of Miami interested in doing policy work," she said, adding that the center is to pursue local business leaders, politicians and others in the community and Latin America.
The center is to hire an associate director, program personnel and graduate-level interns, Ms. Purcell said, adding that the associate director is to pool university resources for policy projects. She said she is waiting to review the budget before making other hires.
"One of our big tasks is fundraising," she said, adding that she is to figure out a budget based on costs and then work to raise funds to have center programs and activities.
The center is to offer a combination of public and private programs, Ms. Purcell said, modeled after programs she led for Council of the Americas members, mainly Fortune 500 companies with investments in Latin America.
Latin American and US politicians, academics and economic analysts are to be brought in for speeches, she said, and the center is to form study groups for research purposes.
A RAND official is to serve on an advisory board for the center, according to university documents.
University officials agreed on the possibility of doing collaborative research projects with RAND, Ms. Purcell said, but the groups have to find areas, such as health and environment issues, where they can combine their strengths.
Though new to Miami, Ms. Purcell said her experiences as an academic, policymaker and business leader focused on Latin America and the Caribbean have prepared her for the post. She taught political science more than 11 years at UCLA and Columbia University, where she received her doctorate in political science with an emphasis on Latin American politics
As part of a university fellowship program, Ms. Purcell took time off to work for the Department of State's policy planning staff that covered Latin America and the Caribbean.
"The program enables those who write and speak about policy issues to get policy experience," she said.
And then Ms. Purcell said she learned how to put US policy toward Latin America in a global context while serving as senior fellow and director of the Latin America Project at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
"The problem with area specialists is that they tend to think the area they work on is the most import in world, and the US government should focus on their favorite area," she said. "When you look globally, it makes you more realistic on what's more possible in particular regions."
"It's always terrific when a scholar and policy analyst that is committed, active and takes a very realistic view of the hemisphere comes to our town," said Jerry Haar, FIU professor of management and international business. "She will be welcomed by the academic community, not just at UM, but FIU and other institutions."
Mr. Haar, former director of the Inter-American Business and Labor program at the North-South Center, said Ms. Purcell's relationship with the New York business community and Washington policy community will benefit the academic community and those interested in international affairs.
"It's not as if folks in Washington are paying a lot of attention to the Americas," he said.
Ms. Purcell said she awaits the opportunity to restructure the center.
"Miami is an extremely enticing place for those who work with Latin America and the
Caribbean," she said "and the University of Miami is strategically located in an
area that automatically makes it a player in anything that occurs in the