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October 2, 2009 | whereabouts

University of Miami Outrages Bahamians with new Press Release

The University of Miami Office of Media Relations issued a press release today claiming that Kathleen Sullivan-Sealey, the official 'researcher' working for Bakers Bay, is helping to "create the first sustainable tourist project in the Bahamas." The press release uses colorful language and lavish photos to clearly promote the relationship between Kathleen-Sullivan Sealey, the University of Miami, and Discovery Land Company.

The article also makes no bones about the University's position on Bakers Bay Golf & Ocean Club, claiming, that Sealey is helping to "guide the construction of a sustainable development called the Bakers Bay Golf and Ocean Club."

This official press release is an outrage on several levels, and Bahamians have a right to be angry. I will provide several ways for Bahamians to act and respond at the end of this entry.

Outrage 1: Sustainable Development Claim is False.

The official communication from the University of Miami states that the Bakers Bay Golf & Ocean Club is a sustainable development. This statement is a complete fraud. The Sierra Club, Jean-Michele Cousteu's Ocean Futures Society, Greenpeace, Global Coral, and hundreds of coral scientists, including senior accomplished marine biology professors at the University of Miami, oppose the Bakers Bay Golf & Ocean Club on several environmental fronts. It is widely considered one of the most unsustainable developments in the Caribbean.

Outrage 2: University of Miami Promised No Support for Bakers Bay

According to a letter from the University of Miami Office of Vice President and General Counsel to the attorneys who represent Save Guana Cay Reef, "The University has never given any project sponsored by Discovery at Bakers Bay or at any other location in the Bahamas its endorsement, support or blessing. The University has never and does not now endorse, support or promote Bakers Bay and categorically and unequivocally states that any representation made otherwise is false and without the University's knowledge. We have recently see evidence that the Company has continued to misrepresent the University's neutral role with respect to the legitimacy of the Bakers Bay project..."

Once again, the University of Miami's name is being used to further the agenda of one of the most unsustainable developments in the history of the Caribbean.

Outrage 3: Earthwatch Cited

The article claims, "Dr. Sullivan-Sealey heads the project on Coastal Ecology of the Bahamas, supported by the EarthWatch Institute. The 10-year project involves visiting the major islands in the archipelago to assess the state of the coastal environment." The article fails to mention that Earthwatch pulled out of the Bakers Bay Club project, following extensive criticism about their involvement in this project.

Outrage 4: The Press Release Claims that this is the FIRST sustainable development in the Bahamas.

While the claim that Bakers Bay is a sustainable development is clearly false, the claim that it is the 'first' sustainable development is an outrage, and an indication that whoever fed this information to the University of Miami clearly disrespects Bahamas' sustainable development heritage.

A sustainable development is a development that is built without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In other words, the development does not affect the environment and economy of the place it inhabits. Bakers Bay, which has torn apart the island's mangroves,

There are great examples in the Bahamas of sustainable developments, here are some of them:

1. Nettie's Different of Abaco was a beautiful genuine ecodevelopment that operated in the Abacos as a simple bone-fishing resort. The owner, who closed the resort as she grew older, used the resort to teach people about ecology, sustainable practices. She was actively engaged in environmental issues in the Abacos.

2. Tiamo Resorts is considered the Bahamas best example of an ecodevelopment and is applauded by environmentalists, biologists and travel media for its genuine sustainable qualities.

3. Small Hope Bay Lodge - is a genuine sustainable lodge whose size is appropriate to the sensitive space it lives in.

The University Response So Far

I talked to the author of the press release. Her intentions were genuine and she was surprised to learn of the real situation at Bakers Bay. She clearly was not informed about the reality behind this development and expressed sincere sorrow for the misrepresentation.

What you Can Do

Ask the University of Miami to retract the press release claims that Bakers Bay is a sustainable development.

Contact the University of Miami Student Newspaper, The Miami Hurricane. They can be contacted by phone or email:

Link to Miami Hurricane Emails

Phone: 305-284-2016

11.21.07 | University of Miami

U of Miami Ship Damages Reefs, University Mum

For the past two years, I have been reporting on the ways the University of Miami has been involved with the Bakers Bay Club. The Bakers Bay Club has used the University of Miami to legitimize its development, even putting its logo on its marketing materials to make their development look as though it has been rubber-stamped by the institution.

But now a new twist - the Miami Herald is reporting "The University of Miami's marine research ship struck and stuck fast on a shallow reef in Biscayne National Park, then cruised on without reporting the incident."

Read the article.

Many conservationists are frustrated with the University of Miami's position with the Bakers Bay Club; this incident serves to further question their integrity in the Caribbean.

Sept 25 , 2006

| University of Miami

University of Miami Letter to Discovery Land Company to Cease and Desist use of its name

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Discovery Land Company, which has been using the University of Miami name for commercial purposes despite being told by the University to cease and desist use of their name to lend credence to their world-wide despised golf development, now harms not only the Bahamas, but the credibility of a respected and renowned institution.

To quell escalating international anger over the involvement of University of Miami scientist(s) and graduate students in one of the Caribbean’s most controversial projects of history, the University of Miami’s Vice President offers the following open letter, addressed to the attorney for Save Guana Cay Reef.

September 7, 2006

Dear Mr. Smith:

The University of Miami entered into a sponsored research grant agreement (“Grant”) in January 2005 with Discovery Land Company (hereinafter “Discovery” and sometimes the “Company”).  The Grant, which is valid through December 2006, requires Dr. Kathleen Sealey, a faculty member at the University of Miami and the Principal Investigator, to conduct a marine science research study entitled “Biological Diversity Status and Change with Small Island Development in the Northern Bahamas.”

Generally, the Grant requires Dr. Sealey and her staff to provide monitoring services with regards to the environment, barrier reefs, fish habitats and less intrusion and the general welfare of the people residing on the island, and to provide monthly reports on collection of field data.  As you are well aware, Dr. Sealey has no authority or power under the Grant to compel the Company to adhere to her findings and observations. 

One of the primary missions of a major research university is to broaden the academic wealth of knowledge in all disciplines.  Dr. Sealey, like the rest of the University of Miami faculty, is encouraged to follow that mission.  At any given point in time, the University has hundreds if not thousands of clinical and ecological sponsored research studies conducted by its faculty members around the world for hundreds of companies.  At the request of its faculty, the University of Miami will enter into agreements with public and private entities to support their independent research, foster their academic freedom and reserve their right to publish the developed work product.  The University encourages the independent work of its faculty. This does not mean that the University agrees (or disagrees) with the intellectual research conclusions reached by its faculty members. 

In October 2005, the University wrote Discovery demanding that it cease using its name in a way that implied or suggested that it endorsed or was commercially affiliated with the Baker Bay project or any other of its commercial ventures.

Additionally, the University emphatically requested that the Company cease and desist using all signs, twin logos and websites containing the name of the University in conjunction with the name or symbol of the development project or that of the Company, and cease and desist making any references to the University’s involvement with the Great Guana Cay Foundation which requires separate University approval. 

We pointed out to the Company that the University must be assured that any and all of its signs, websites, communications or advertisements to the public, whether for business, marketing or political purposes, will not utilize the University’s name except as allowed under the Grant, which expressly forbids utilization of the University’s name without “written permission” (emphasis added). The University, however, believed then and continues to believe that the Company has the right under the Grant to use the report and name of Dr. Sealey in her position as a professor at the University of Miami.   

In late October 2005, Discovery responded by stating that it was taking the first step to immediately cease all references to the University in distributed materials.

The University has never given any project sponsored by Discovery at Baker’s Bay or at any other location in the Bahamas its endorsement, support or blessing. The University has never and does not now endorse, support or promote Baker’s Bay and categorically and unequivocally states that any representation made otherwise is false and without the University’s knowledge. We have recently seen evidence that the Company has continued to misrepresent the University’s neutral role with respect to the legitimacy of the Baker Bay project, and the University will be considering such further action in this regard as may be appropriate.         

The University of Miami’s official position is summarized as follows:

  1. The University has not given permission or authorization (written or otherwise) to Discovery or any other entity or person to state that the University of Miami endorses or supports the Baker’s Bay initiative.

  2. Any attempt to cast the University as supporting, endorsing or approving such initiative by the misuse of its name through advertisements, statements, logos, or association is a misrepresentation to the public and should cease.

  3. The University does not know whether the Baker’s Bay project is in the best interest of the Bahamas or not.  It firmly believes that whether Baker’s Bay should proceed should be determined by the appropriate governmental units of the sovereign nation of the Bahamas and its people and its judiciary.

  4. The University has a grant agreement with Discovery to allow one of its faculty members to consult with Discovery on ecological issues only and to monitor the environment and make written reports regarding her findings.  The time-honored concept of Academic Freedom requires that each faculty member be given wide latitude to express his or her opinion or conviction.  Concomitantly, those opinions do not necessarily represent the institution’s opinion, any more or less than a radio talk show host represents the opinion of the radio station.  Academic Freedom allows each faculty member the right to his or her opinion even though that opinion may be contrary to the official position of the University’s. 

  5. The University has assiduously avoided becoming entangled in the political, commercial and advertising activities of companies employing its faculty and it has no intentions to do otherwise with the Baker’s Bay Project.

Hopefully this will clear the record regarding the University’s relationship or lack thereof, with the Baker’s Bay Development Project. I will personally visit your country within the next thirty days for the ostensible purpose of learning more about the facts and circumstances surrounding utilization of the University’s name. I look forward to meeting you upon my visitation.

With regards,

Robert L. Blake
Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary

 

January 01, 2010 | August 07 , 2006

Who does Dr. Sullivan-Sealey Represent?

According to locals, In a recent meeting held at the Guana Cay school house 26 Aug 2006, Mrs. Sullivan-Sealey said she was not working for the University of Miami and made it quite clear that she was working on a 'GRANT' through the College of the Bahamas. She distributed business cards with: Kathleen Sullivan Sealey, PhD. Dean, Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences and Acting Executive Director, Marine and Environmental Studies Institute.Who does she work for? In July, she told Great Guana Cay locals that she does not receive any money for her work at the Bakers Bay Club project.

Her words do not match the statements of the Bakers Bay Club, which on numerous occasions expressly refers to Sullivan-Sealey and the Environmental Management Team as a University of Miami-backed operation and Sealey (who heads the team) as a scientist from the University of Miami.

Additionally, Sullivan-Sealey made a statement that she was surprised that Bakers Bay Club employees were driving on the beach, and she told locals to notify her so she can file an incident report. But how could she not be aware of these obvious breaches? Locals have been reporting these breaches for months, and the evidence has appeared in several online journals and in dozens of photographs, especially during the height of sea turtle breeding season. If Sealey has not heard of these cases, there appears to be a serious disconnect between Discovery Land Company and the Environmental Monitoring Team.

Is Discovery Land Company listening to anything Sullivan-Sealey is saying?

And why does the Discovery Land Company and Sullivan-Sealey claim such wildly different things about who represents the Environmental Monitoring Team?

Notes from the Road hopes that Kathleen Sullivan-Sealey joins the international community and the locals of Great Guana Cay and denounces the unsustainable megadevelopment proposed by Discovery Land Company.

Bethel

Discovery Land Company refers to the Environmental Management Team as from the University of Miami.

Jeff Lloyd

In Spring 2006, Discovery Land Company referred to their Environmental Management Team as consisting of 8 University of Miami scientists. We believe these scientists to consist of Kathleen Sullivan-Sealey and 7 graduate students.

Jeff Lloyd

On June 6, 2006, Dr. Marshall wrote to Notes from the Road, reporting that Discovery Land Company has permission from the University of Miami to use their name, and he refers me to legal counsel of the University of Miami.

Jeff Lloyd

In the Affidavit of Joseph Arenson, dated TODAY, August 9, 2006, Discovery Land Company again refers to Sullivan-Sealey as a University of Miami scientist, as well as a consultant to the developer.

Jeff Lloyd

This Larry Smith article on bahamaspundit.com refers to Sealey as a University of Miami biology professor.

Jeff Lloyd

Earthwatch, which either grants Sullivan-Sealey or used to grant Sullivan-Sealey on the Bakers Bay Club project, refers to her as from the University of Miami, and shows that she teaches classes on how to get grant money. If she teaches people that there can be no barriers to getting funding, why is the source of her funding and support in the Bakers Bay Club matter so unusual?