President Perry’s Problem

Charles Perry McDowellFIU founding President Charles E. Perry, right, and Vice President Donald McDowell, October 1969

This picture ran in the Miami Herald on October 28, 1969, nearly three years before FIU welcomed students. At the time, founding President Charles E. Perry, right, Vice President Donald McDowell and a handful of other administrators were working feverishly to transform the former Tamiami Airport – its old control tower, the only building on campus, is seen in the background—into an upper-division two-year university sorely needed by the local community.

The photo here captures a less-than-glorious moment on the path to creating what would become a world-class research institution: the theft of some $10,000-worth of office equipment. Perry and McDowell are reacting to the crime, which included vandalism of their state-issued car. Observers are reminded that prior to the opening of FIU, its chosen location on the far edge of the county constituted nothing short of “the wild, wild west.”   


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