headshot of Kathi Kern

Kathi Kern

Vice Provost for Educational Innovation

Kathi Kern joined the University of Miami in July 2022, as the inaugural Vice Provost for Educational Innovation and is responsible for designing the University’s strategy in leading and executing the educational revolution. She leads the Platform for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (PETAL), which supports teaching excellence and offers resources for faculty members to improve their instructional skills. Additionally, she helps to oversee the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan and works closely with Academic Technologies, a division of the University’s department of Information Technology. As part of educational innovation, Dr. Kern advises the Deans on developing new, innovative degree programs, both online and residential.

Dr. Kern has led faculty development projects around the globe, including sustained initiatives in China, Japan, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and across the United States. She brings her passion for innovative, inquiry-based, hands-on learning to the U, where she partners with faculty members from 12 schools and colleges to foster a truly transformative education for students.

An award-winning professor of history, scholar, author, and lecturer, Dr. Kern’s research centers on the women’s rights movement, with particular focus on the ways in which politics, gender, and religion intersect to create new ideological positions and social change in the U.S. She is keenly interested in contemporary women’s political and social conditions and seeks ways to make higher education more responsive to issues of inclusion and diversity. At the University of Miami, she joins the College of Arts and Sciences as a professor of Religious Studies.

Dr. Kern previously served as a professor of history and associate provost for Teaching, Learning, and Academic Innovation at the University of Kentucky. She was the founding Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching and led the successful expansion of online learning at Kentucky.

She earned a Ph.D. in American history at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities and a winner of the Dean’s Award for distinguished teaching.

She is the author of numerous articles as well as the book, “Mrs. Stanton’s Bible (Cornell University Press, 2001), named a Choice Outstanding Academic Book. In 2016 she was named a Distinguished Lecturer by the Organization of American Historians. In 2018, she co-edited the book, “Strategies for Teaching Large Classes Effectively in Higher Education (Cognella, 2018). Currently, she is working on a book entitled “The Tagore Craze in America,” a study of American readers’ engagement with the work of Rabindranath Tagore.

As a faculty member at Kentucky, she won the Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Teaching (1995), Alumni Great Teacher Award (2003) and the College of Education’s “Teachers Who Make a Difference” Award (2001, 2004).  In 2009-2010, Dr. Kern served as the Stanley Kelley Jr., Visiting Associate Professor for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University.

Her scholarly work on teaching has led to a career of public service to teachers around the world. Through the auspices of the National Faculty, Dr. Kern taught summer institutes for teachers in the Mississippi Delta, Alaska, and at the Smithsonian Institute from 1993-1999. In 2008, she was a co-winner (with two other University of Kentucky colleagues) of the National Technology Leadership Initiative Award in Social Studies for their research project on digital storytelling and history instruction.

headshot of Miriam Lipsky

Miriam Lipsky

Director, Platform for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Dr. Miriam Lipsky is the director of the Platform for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (PETAL) and an adjunct faculty member in the School of Education and Human Development. As the director of PETAL, Dr. Lipsky leads initiatives to foster educational innovation and develops programming to creatively support our faculty in building their skills and networks to drive teaching excellence. She also designs and leads educational programs about diversity and inclusion, and consults with units throughout the university on programs to promote a Culture of Belonging. Dr. Lipsky has helped spearhead UM’s Intergroup Dialogue initiative, obtaining several grants to move this work forward within the university. She teaches a course for undergraduates on Intergroup Dialogue, and created the UDialogue program on Intergroup Dialogue for faculty and graduate students.

Dr. Lipsky has extensive experience in adult learning, professional development, and inclusion. From 2010-2016, as a faculty member in the department of Teaching and Learning, she managed Project INCLUDE, a 5-year, 1.5-million-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education, to create a merged, dual-certification program in general and special education. As part of this project, she led a longitudinal study on pre-service teachers' attitudes toward inclusion.

Dr. Lipsky holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics with a concentration in Public Policy from Swarthmore College, a Master’s in Education and Human Development from George Washington University, a Master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Miami, and a Ph.D. in Language and Literacy in Multilingual Settings from the University of Miami. Her dissertation work focused on preschool teachers’ vocabulary instruction strategies in linguistically diverse classrooms, and in 2013, she received the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education for this work.

In her spare time, Dr. Lipsky enjoys doing ceramics, spending time with her family (the humans, as well as the dog and cat), and attending Miami Hurricanes baseball games.

Laura Kohn Wood

Laura Kohn Wood

Dean, School of Education and Human Development

Dr. Kohn-Wood is currently a Professor and Dean of the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Miami (UM). Dr. Kohn-Wood previously served as chair of the Department of Educational and Psychological Studies, the founding program director of the Master’s in Community & Social Change program and, with colleagues, developed the Ph.D. Program in Community Well-Being at the University of Miami. She also previously held the title of Associate Vice Provost for the Office of Institutional Culture, served as the Senior Resident Faculty of Pearson Residential College and was the Inaugural co-Chair of the University’s Standing Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Dr. Kohn-Wood received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, with a specialization in Community Psychology, from the University of Virginia in 1996 and completed an internship at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at Georgetown University School of Medicine. Dr. Kohn-Wood’s research program Race, Ethnicity, Culture and Promotion of Strengths (RECAPS) focuses on race, ethnicity, and culture in relation to the experience of psychological phenomena among diverse populations, with an emphasis on race-based protective factors and the promotion of positive coping and mental health among African Americans. 

Allan Gyorke

Allan Gyorke

Chief Academic Technology Officer, Associate Vice President for Academic Technologies, and Assistant Provost for Educational Innovation

Since 2013, Allan Gyorke has served as Chief Academic Technology Officer (CATO) at the University of Miami (UM), and has been responsible for exploring and supporting technologies used by faculty and students for teaching and learning. Additionally, Gyorke serves as Assistant Provost for Educational Innovation, advancing the Education Revolution initiative of the University’s Roadmap to Our New Century. Gyorke’s priorities include assessing the faculty’s familiarity with the range of pedagogical methods and technological resources, devising appropriate resources and workshops to foster and promote pedagogical innovation, and advising on the use of classroom and online technologies.

Prior to joining UM, Gyorke studied and worked for 21 years at Penn State University, where he oversaw computer workshops, ran the IT services for the Hazleton campus, built some of the first online courses and massive open online courses (MOOCs), worked closely with faculty on the integration of technology into traditional on-campus courses, and led course redesign efforts to include student-generated media, podcasting, blogs, online social networks, and flipped learning models.

Gyorke earned his B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering and his M.Ed. degree in Adult Education from Penn State.

 Matt Acevedo

Matt Acevedo

Executive Director

Matt is the Executive Director of Learning Innovation and Faculty Engagement at the University of Miami, where he leads a team of instructional designers who work to promote a culture of teaching and learning at the U through consultations, coaching, workshops, and events. Prior to joining UM in 2017, Matt managed the distance learning instructional design teams at Florida International University.

Matt holds a PhD in Higher Education from Florida International University, where his dissertation, “Auditing Quality: A Critical Exploration of Faculty Members' Experiences with Quality Matters,” was awarded Best Dissertation in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education in 2019. His professional interests include educational development, critical pedagogy, and qualitative research.

 headshot of Maria Kolovou2

Maria Kolovou

Sr. Instructional Designer, Quality Enhancement Plan

Maria Kolovou holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s in applied genetics and biotechnology, a master’s in drama in education, and a Ph.D. (from the University of Miami) in Teaching and Learning. She has worked as a science teacher for 13 years and has developed and applied science teachers' professional development workshops and seminars for four years.  

In her work, she designs innovative curricula that integrate the arts, the humanities, and the sciences. She strives to create meaningful learning environments, grounded in rich perceptual and sensorimotor experiences, in accordance with sociocultural, situated, and embodied theories of learning. To analyze learning in her designed learning environments, she has used design-based research, case study designs, grounded theory approaches, and interaction analysis, and has published her research in high-impact educational journals.  

She has a longstanding commitment to equity. Over the course of 13 years, she has led community-school partnerships and community theater projects funded by the European Union to affirm the voices of teenage immigrant female youth in Greece. Her research has aimed to redefine education for students who become marginalized from traditional lecture-type and sedentary approaches. 


Sarah G. David 

Administrative Assistant

Sarah joined the University of Miami in October 2023, as the Administrative Assistant for the Platform for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (PETAL), the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), and the Innovation, Technology, and Design Program (ITD). Sarah comes from Florida International University with over 21 years of experience under Student Affairs working under the Women’s Center, Campus Life/Student Activities, and Orientation. Sarah received her Psychology degree from FIU and also holds an Associates in Fashion Design.


PETAL Committee

The PETAL Committee supports the ongoing development of innovative and collaborative teaching and learning initiatives across all University of Miami campuses. The committee is dedicated to promoting “second-order” institutional change that re-centers teaching and educational development as part of UM’s larger organizational mission to shape the educational revolution.  The committee is proudly composed of representatives from the Gables, Medical, and RSMAS campuses. All committee members are involved in leading, overseeing, facilitating, coordinating, and/or planning PETAL programs, events, and resources. The committee meets at least bi-semesterly each academic year.  For more information and/or how to get involved, please email

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  • Coral Gables Campus

    Coral Gables campus
    • Allan Gyorke, Assoc. VP. | UMIT - Information Technology
    • Andrew Dawson, Professor | School of Law 
    • Beth Teagarden Bair, Asst. Director, Programs | Undergraduate Education
    • Brian Arwari, Assoc. Professor Prof Practice | School of Education - Kinesiology 
    • Carol-Anne Phekoo, Associate Professor of Professional Practice | Education & Psychological Studies 
    • Derin Ural, Professor in Practice and Associate Dean of Student Affairs | CoE - Civil Arch & Env Engineering
    • Ijeoma Adele, Director, Special Projects - Office of the Provost | Office of the Provost
    • Kelly Miller, Librarian Assoc. Professor | Otto G. Richter Library
    • Laura Kohn Wood, Dean of School of Education and Human Development 
    • John Clochesy, Professor | School of Nursing & Health Studies
    • Mary Beth Calhoon, Assoc. Professor | Teaching & Learning
    • Matthew Acevedo, Executive Director | UMIT - Information Technology
    • Matthew Deroo, Asst. Professor | Teaching & Learning 
    • Miriam Lipsky, Director, Student Affairs Assessment & Projects | STU AFFRS - Student Life 
    • Rebecca Fox, Dean, Distance Learning Institute | DCIE
    • Rik Bair, Associate Dean, Distance Learning Institute | DCIE
    • Soyeon Ahn, Professor | School of Education & Human Development 
    • Titanya Ramsingh Pierce, Director, IT Strategic Initiatives | UMIT - Information Technology
    • Todd Warner, Lecturer | Education & Psychological Studies
    • Walter Secada, Professor | School of Education & Human Development 
    • Warren Whisenant, Professor | School of Education & Human Development
    • Wes Smith, Asst. Professor Prof. Practice | School of Education - Kinesiology

  • Miller School Campus

    Miller School campus
    • Joan E. St. Onge, Graduate Medical Education