By Joel Delgado ’12 MS ’17
FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg highlighted the university’s success in meeting the needs and addressing the challenges facing students and the community in his State of the University address at the GC Ballrooms April 11.
From student and alumni success stories to the university’s involvement in various projects to help improve the surrounding community and more, Rosenberg spoke on a wide range of topics regarding where the university stands today and the steps being taken to help move the university forward.
“This is a university that is on the move, that is deeply respected because of the work that you do,” Rosenberg told approximately 250 members of the university community in attendance. “This is a university that cares about the people who work here, that cares about its community and cares about making a difference in the lives of its students.”
CONTINUING TO GROW
The president made some big announcements during his remarks regarding plans to expand FIU’s footprint on campus and beyond.
Rosenberg mentioned plans to build a new alumni center and hotel on the northwest side of Modesto A. Maidique Campus with more information coming in the months ahead; plans for a new, $150 million, 225,000 square-foot engineering building just south of MMC in land currently occupied by the Fair; and a new building for MAST@FIU at Biscayne Bay Campus.
This is in addition to current projects already underway or close to completion, including the nearly completed Student Academic Support Center located next to the Graham Center, the expansion of the Rec Center at MMC and the Bayview Student Living facility, which is set to open in August.
The university breaking ground March 29 on an SW 8th Street bridge that will connect the Modesto A. Maidique Campus to the City of Sweetwater also marked the strengthening of an already well-established relationship with FIU’s neighbors to the north.
“When I became president, my attitude was if you give us a pile of rocks, we’re going to build a bridge, not a wall,” Rosenberg said. “We see Sweetwater as being a major service community for our university. If Sweetwater improves, that’s great for us.”
During his address, Rosenberg expressed his excitement about the amount of respect that FIU has gained not only locally and around the state, but on a national level as well.
The president pointed out that FIU accomplished one its goals in the FIUBeyondPossible2020 Strategic Plan four years ahead of schedule by moving into the top Carnegie category in research – R1: Doctoral Universities – in the latest edition of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
He also expressed pride for FIU’s rise in the “America’s Best Employers” list, released annually by Forbes magazine. This year, FIU moved up 30 spots overall to become the 34th best employer in the nation and the second best employer in Florida.
“That’s you getting things done – figuring out how to make things work, growing the university and expanding the number of students graduating,” Rosenberg said.
The president also highlighted the U.S. State Department’s recognition of FIU as a top producer of Fulbright U.S. Scholars and FIU being asked to join the prestigious Ashoka University Changemaker Campus consortium as a leader in fostering opportunities that help its students impact the world.
“Good things are happening and it’s good to feel respected,” Rosenberg said. “Back in the good old days people didn’t know who we were, where we were or what we did. That’s not the case today because of your efforts.”
The president reminded the FIU community that ultimate goal of the university is to meet the needs of its students and spoke about a number of initiatives to help ensure students succeed during their time at FIU and beyond.
“We are here for our students. It’s our students that make our efforts possible. It’s our students who give us the resources and the life to move forward in terms of our research, our pedagogy, our engagement,” Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg said that Governor Rick Scott and the state’s emphasis on ensuring that students find jobs after graduation has framed the political environment in which FIU operates and talked about the success FIU has had in meeting those standards.
FIU has 76 percent of its bachelor’s degree graduates finding employment or continuing their education within a year of graduation, which is second in the state, and is on track this year to surpass the number of students with internships during the 2014-2015 academic year (4,986).
Another source of pride for Rosenberg and FIU: the Obama administration recognizing the university for providing accessible, affordable education to lower-income students and supporting their success.
At FIU, 58 percent of enrolled students are Pell Grant recipients and 68 percent of them are earning more than $25,000 annually six years after enrolling.
“We should be proud of that,” Rosenberg said, “because what that means is that we are providing the sons and daughters of low-income families the opportunity to get the college education that can likely pull their families up, perhaps out of deep poverty, and increase the likelihood that their sons and daughters will get a college education.”
To watch President Rosenberg’s full State of the University address, click here.