Late FIU founder’s life, accomplishments to be celebrated on campus March 26

The FIU family will come together to honor one of its founding fathers. The entire university community is invited to attend at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26, in front of the PC building at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus.

Butler Waugh

Butler Waugh

Butler Waugh arrived in 1969 to help draft the university plan and went on to become the first dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, the lone academic unit on campus when FIU opened in 1972. He eventually moved full-time into the classroom, where he taught 20th century literature until retiring in 2003.

“FIU’s history is not a very long one, but it is a very proud one,” said James M. Sutton, chairman of the English department and a former colleague of Waugh. “This man helped create a vibrant FIU that still resonates with his ideas and passion. I invite everyone—students, faculty and staff, and alumni—to relive a bit of the early years even as we celebrate how far we have come. The stories will be nothing short of inspiring and, like Butler, will make you laugh out loud.”

During his 38-year career with FIU, Waugh’s in-your-face honesty, biting humor and non-existent ego—even in the face of his many accomplishments—left an impression on both students and colleagues.

“No other person has so imprinted me for life with his irreverence and wit,” wrote Michelle Dalmau ’97, upon hearing of her mentor’s death in November at age 78. “I was not only shocked and saddened to learn that he passed away, I was also disappointed that his cunningness was overshadowed by mundane mortality.”

“He was a larger-than-life character,” agreed Alex Gil ’99, who recalled the informal education he and friends received from Waugh outside the classroom. “We had the greatest love and admiration for the man. Every chance I could, I would drop by his office in the afternoons to have a chat. He would regale you with the most controversial positions on literature and life.”

“Butler Waugh was a wonderfully quirky and witty man,” recalled English Professor Emerita Lynn Berk. “He didn’t care much for convention or traditional ways of doing things. Even as dean, he disdained hierarchy and supported the fledgling faculty union. Butler was fun, funny, ironic and fascinating. Without him, FIU would have been a far less interesting place.”

The university community is encouraged to join Waugh’s family at the celebration of his life. The Torch of Knowledge, Service and Understanding will be lighted in his memory.