More than a decade ago, I was living in Clearwater, Fla., when I decided to earn a graduate degree. I visited Florida International University and was impressed by the beautiful campus, the academic possibilities in the Latin American and Caribbean Center office and the many enrichment opportunities offered by the university.
FIU was great then. It’s even better now.
Our university has made indisputable advancements with the addition of a law school, a medical school and countless other academic initiatives. At each step along the way, the university has had to carefully document, quantify and justify its plans.
The truth is actually far simpler than all the documentation would suggest: Everything we do is to serve our community. The students we have. The students we want to educate in the future. Their parents, siblings and spouses who share the dream of college education. The business owners of today and tomorrow who benefit from our research innovation. The public schools we engage with daily to improve learning for our children. The hospitals and the non-profits we partner with to make this community healthier and safer. The industries that call South Florida home and the ones we seek to attract by providing an educated workforce.
Today, a top priority for FIU today is gaining access to the 86-acre property adjacent to the Modesto A. Maidique Campus. It is now occupied by the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition, a wonderful local attraction that my family has enjoyed for years. The process of coming to an agreement about the land will be long and detailed. There are plenty of sound economic statistics to support FIU’s expansion next door.
Yet again, this effort comes down to a straightforward objective. This university wants to and can do even more for the community. We need space to bring this vision to fruition.
Our next horizon is to foster entrepreneurship opportunities and expand applied research to strengthen the South Florida economy. More jobs. Better jobs. A thriving economy. More reasons for our young, educated workers to stay in South Florida. It means more opportunity for our community.
I was heartened to see that the majority of people who responded to a Miami Herald poll support relocating the Fair so that FIU can expand onto the property. The poll underscores how much this community values the contributions of FIU. Thank you for believing in us. Be assured that in this effort and all of our initiatives, we never lose sight of our purpose and our mission to serve.