Thousands to receive FIU degrees from new President Mark B. Rosenberg

MIAMI – More than 5,500 Florida International University students will join the ranks of 140,000 FIU alumni when they receive their degrees next week.

More than 3,000 of those students will participate in six ceremonies. The ceremonies –scheduled for Dec. 14 and 15– will be led by FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg, who became the university’s fifth president in August after serving as chancellor for the Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida. Previously, he served eight years as FIU’s provost and executive vice president.

“Commencement is my favorite event of the year because of the energy our students and their families radiate,” said Rosenberg. “Our community’s future is tied to the success of our graduates. They’re well prepared for the challenges ahead.”

All the ceremonies will take place at U.S. Century Bank Arena on FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus, 11200 SW 8th St. in west Miami-Dade County.

Rosenberg, who has vowed to turn FIU into a more student-centered institution, will recognize the efforts of individual students who have overcome hurdles in order to earn their degrees. Also, family members of two recently-deceased students will accept posthumous degrees.

During the 3 p.m. ceremony on December 14, the family of Marlon Lomba will accept a posthumous Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree. Lomba, 22, died as a result of an automobile accident. Another posthumous degree, a Master’s in Science Nursing, will be awarded during the 7:30 p.m. ceremony on December 15 to the family of Rohie Kah, who died after a failed medical procedure.

In addition, FIU medallions will be awarded to a former Miami mayor, a leader in the banking industry, a prominent hotelier, one of South Florida’s premier accountants, a champion for the underserved and a renowned geography professor who formerly taught at FIU.

The honorees are:

As one of the co-founding partners of Appelrouth, Farah & Co., Stewart Appelrouth brings a wealth of knowledge and more than 25 years of experience to his field of work. Appelrouth’s reputation as one of South Florida’s most creative financial and accounting advisors is backed by a résumé that includes, among other accomplishments, certifications as a public accountant, fraud examiner, valuation analyst, family law mediator, personal financial specialist and forensic accountant, along with a generous commitment of time and resources to his community.
Appelrouth will receive the FIU Medallion – Outstanding Alumnus on Monday, December 14 at the 7:30 p.m. ceremony.

Geography professor emeritus Ralph Clem, Ph.D., is part of the fabric of FIU, an institution he first joined as a faculty member in 1974 and from which he retired in June 2009. Clem rose through the ranks of academia, serving two terms as chair of the Department of International Relations and founding director of the Center for Transnational and Comparative Studies from 1999-2005.
Clem will receive the FIU Medallion-University Service on Tuesday, December 15 at the 3 p.m. ceremony.

A force in local and state politics for nearly three decades, FIU alumnus Manny Diaz was first elected City of Miami mayor in 2001, having never held office before. He was re-elected in 2005 and was chosen to lead the United States Conference of Mayors as its president in 2008. During his two-term tenure, the Cuban-born Diaz developed a vision for Miami that highlighted the city’s diversity, economic opportunity, customer service and quality of life in order to place it on par with the capitals of the world. To achieve this, he championed innovative programs in the areas of urban design, sustainability, education, affordable housing, law enforcement, poverty and homelessness, and arts and culture. 
Diaz will receive the FIU Medallion – Outstanding Alumnus on Tuesday, December 15 at the 10 a.m. ceremony.

As an educator, public administrator, social worker and lawyer, Daniella Levine has tirelessly devoted her career to the betterment of underserved people’s lives. Levine is the founder and executive director of the Human Services Coalition (HSC), a non-profit organization that has emerged as a hub to meet the needs of families and communities through public education, advocacy and dialogue on critical social and economic issues. HSC launched several successful antipoverty and community building initiatives including: the Prosperity Campaign, Imagine Miami, the Civic Life Academy, and will soon launch its new business model to support other nonprofits and socially conscious businesses to achieve greater community and civic impact.
Levine will receive the Cal Kovens Community Service Medallion on Tuesday, December 15 at the 7:30 p.m. ceremony.

McKibbon Hotel Group, Inc., chairman and CEO John McKibbon III is the third generation to head the family company founded in 1926. McKibbon began his career working in the family-owned hotels before heading out to college. He rejoined the business in 1977 as a hotel general manager, later becoming a regional director. After being named president of the company in 1991, he began divesting the company of its older properties and established a strong relationship with Marriott International, becoming one of the first Courtyard franchisees in the country
McKibbon will receive the FIU Medallion – Outstanding Alumnus on Monday, December 14 at the 10 a.m. ceremony.

As one of Miami’s most influential bankers, Cuban-born businessman Jose Valdés-Fauli has led several South Florida banking institutions over the course of a career that spans more than three decades, rising from an entry-level position to lead several local and regional banks as president and CEO.
Valdés-Fauli will receive FIU Medallion – Outstanding Alumnus on Monday, December 14 at the 3 p.m. ceremony.

Full biographies of the honorees are available at

The ceremonies are scheduled as follows:

Monday, December 14, 2009

10:00 A.M.          School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
College of Education

3:00 P.M.             College of Business (Landon Undergraduate School of Business)

7:30 P.M.             College of Business (Chapman Graduate School)
College of Engineering & Computing

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10:00 A.M.          College of Arts and Sciences (except SIPA)

3:00 P.M.             College of Architecture & the Arts
College of Arts and Sciences (SIPA only)

7:30 P.M.           Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work
College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Media Contact: Jean Paul Renaud at 305-348-2716.


About FIU:
Florida International University was founded in 1965 and is Miami’s only public research university. With a student body of more than 38,000, its 17 colleges and schools offer more than 200 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in fields such as engineering, international relations and law. More than 100,000 FIU alumni live and work in South Florida. FIU has been classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a “High Research Activity University.” In August 2009, FIU welcomed the inaugural class of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. For more information about FIU, visit

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