FIU’s School of International and Public Affairs launched the Initiative for Spanish and Mediterranean Studies during a private meeting with Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince and Princess of Asturias, in Miami last month.
Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia were in South Florida as guests of Florida Gov. Rick Scott to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Ponce the Leon to Florida. Their Royal Highnesses met with President Mark B. Rosenberg, Arts & Sciences Dean Kenneth G. Furton, SIPA Executive Director John F. Stack Jr., and Professor Aurora Morcillo, who is spearheading the initiative. Also in attendance at the meeting were His Excellency José García-Magallo y Marfil, Spain’s minister of Foreign Affairs and His Excellency Ramón Gil-Casares, ambassador of Spain to the United States.
FIU’s Initiative for Spanish and Mediterranean Studies will educate students about Spain and the broader Mediterranean by focusing on its history, culture, politics, economics and international relations as well as highlight the continuing importance of this dynamic region in the 21st century. This initiative places special emphasis on the unique synergies that exist between the Mediterranean and the Iberian Peninsula, which serve as the gateway to the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Florida Peninsula.
During the meeting, Rosenberg described how FIU’s geographical location provides the university a unique opportunity to increase the strength, visibility, and significance of Spanish culture and heritage in a predominantly Hispanic-serving institution. Approximately 70 percent of FIU’s students are from Hispanic origin.
“We are so grateful to Their Royal Highnesses for taking the time to honor FIU with a private audience,” Stack said. “Our vision is to take the initiative for Spanish and Mediterranean Studies to the next level by creating an endowed center. This would demonstrate FIU’s commitment to these relevant fields of study as foundational to the mission of a predominantly Hispanic-serving university.”
Prince Felipe expressed his commitment to the creation of academic centers and endowed chairs related to Spain across the United States, as well as an interest in supporting programs in the humanities and the natural sciences. The prince highlighted the various programs that he has helped build and he expressed a desire to return to Miami to see FIU’s initiative fully realized.
The conversation concluded with the conferral of the FIU Medallion of Courage by Rosenberg. The university presents this award to those individuals who pursue noble causes. As the heirs to the Spanish throne, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia embody the ideals of the Spanish Monarchy, which has steadfastly defended and advanced democratic principles in Spain and throughout the world.