Bulletin News

All-Star Cuba Symposium Open to Students, Faculty


Former U.S. Defense Secretary and Senator William S. Cohen will headline a symposium of diplomats, business people, academic experts and baseball executives in discussing how various forms of diplomacy can be used to bridge the differences between Cuba and the United States. 

The symposium, a first-of-its-kind gathering, will be held on the SUNY Cortland campus in Cortland, N.Y., on April 28, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. 

All interested students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the community are invited to attend the event, either for the full day or for one or more of the panel discussions.

To register for the free symposium, please sign up here.

An up-to-date schedule of the day's events can be found here.

In addition to Secretary Cohen, moderators and panelists will include two former U.S. ambassadors as well as Cuban and American academics, business executives, government officials and baseball representatives. The highly respected panelists will explore business and academic opportunities created by the recent opening of relations between the former Cold War rivals and discuss how the two nations’ shared passion for the game of baseball can facilitate this effort.  

The symposium is co-sponsored by SUNY Cortland and the Caribbean Baseball Initiative (CBI), an organization seeking to promote goodwill and understanding between the U.S. and its Caribbean neighbors through a shared passion for the sport of baseball. Founded by managing general partner Lou Schwechheimer, a current minor-league baseball executive and owner, CBI has engaged with Cuban counterparts for more than a decade in an effort to build a baseball bridge between Cuba and the U.S.

The unique inclusion of baseball will bring an exciting energy to the symposium as the sport has been a cultural force in both nations since the late 19th century. Just last month, the eyes of the world turned to a Havana baseball diamond as Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays played against the Cuban National Team during President Barack Obama’s historic trip to Cuba. 

 “Our reengagement with Cuba has been closely watched over the past 16 months and through this we have been able to observe the many forms that diplomacy can take,” Secretary Cohen said. “I am excited to join this event and continue the conversation.”

Secretary Cohen, a former member of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate and Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton, will deliver the symposium’s keynote address. He is currently the Chairman and CEO of The Cohen Group, an international strategic advisory firm located in Washington, D.C. Secretary Cohen will be joined by two colleagues from The Cohen Group, who are also two of the U.S.’s most highly distinguished diplomats: Ambassador Marc Grossman and Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow, who will moderate panel discussions on business environment and the bilateral relationship, respectively. 

Ambassador Grossman, currently a vice chairman at The Cohen Group, served as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs – the State Department's third-ranking official. He also held the positions of U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and U.S. Ambassador to Turkey.

Ambassador Davidow, currently a senior counselor at The Cohen Group, headed the State Department's efforts in Latin America, as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and also served as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Venezuela and Zambia. Both former diplomats retired with the rank of career ambassador.

“SUNY Cortland is honored to host this unique and important event; a early step in what we believe will be a long and productive relationship between Cuba and the United States,” said College President Erik J. Bitterbaum, who will deliver the symposium’s opening remarks. “The best way to understand and bridge the differences between people and countries is through dialogue, which is what this symposium is designed to do.”

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher will present remarks on behalf of the SUNY system, which is engaged in its own academic Caribbean Initiative.   

SUNY Cortland is a public, comprehensive college of approximately 7,000 students in Central New York. It is a Division III athletic powerhouse whose baseball and women’s lacrosse teams won national championships in 2015. SUNY Cortland has extensive international study partnerships in dozens of countries and is home to a highly respected sport management program.

For general information contact:

Frederic Pierce

Public Relations Director

SUNY Cortland


O – 607-753-2420

C – 607-345-4609


For baseball-related information contact:

Jordan Kobritz

Chair, Sports Management Department

O – 607-753-2196

C – 928-925-1114