Newswise — Since the thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations began in late 2014, Gerardo Gonzalez, dean emeritus of the Indiana University School of Education, has worked toward promoting understanding and collaboration between academic institutions in both countries. Gonzalez, whose family fled Cuba in 1962, returned to the island nation in the fall as part of a high-level delegation of educational leaders.

"President Obama's historic visit to Cuba is truly a new beginning in U.S.-Cuba relations," Gonzalez said. "No one knows where it will lead, but it's hard to imagine a return to the frozen relations of the last half century. As a Cuban-American refugee who has lived with a foot in both cultures, I can only hope that through increased contact, better understanding and lots of education, the people of both nations will grow and prosper in a mutually beneficial and peaceful if yet uncertain new future."

Gonzalez has spoken frequently to national and international groups and written on the Cuban-American experience and Hispanic education concerns. In 2012, Hispanic Business named him one of the 50 most influential Hispanics in the United States. He can be reached at [email protected].