FIYou: James Wassenaar


Name: James  R. Wassenaar

Hometown: Oswego, New York located on the east shore of Lake Ontario 

Job Title/Department: Director of Facilities Planning and Operations for the Division of Student Affairs

Location/Campus: Modesto A. Maidique Campus

In a nutshell: I’ve served FIU since 1989. Currently, I’m the director of facilities planning for the Division of Student Affairs where I use my expertise in developing and managing capital projects. I’ve overseen and delivered projects for FIU totaling more than $350 million. Some recently completed and current projects I’m working on include: Wolfe University Center remodeling (Panther Square & Auditorium), BBC Panther Plaza, Recreation Center expansion, Royal Caribbean Production Studio (P3), Bayview Housing (P3), Student Health Services building refurbishment (both MMC & BBC) and the Student Academic Success Complex. 

Some other projects from the past include: Panther Hall, University Towers, Graham Center expansion (Food Court, Student Government offices), refurbishment of the BBC Aquatic Center, Everglades Hall, Lakeview Housing Complex, Student Health Services building, BBC Fitness Center, BBC Food court, Public Safety Headquarters, Student Recreation Center (Phase 1), FIU Arena expansion, Nature Preserve jogging trail and Parkview Housing and parking garage.

I earned a master’s degree in education, specializing in student personnel administration/development, from the University of Georgia and a bachelor’s in political science from the University of South Florida. I’m also a recipient of the FIU Presidential Award for Achievement and Excellence.

While I was director of Housing, the Lakeview Student Housing Project received the South East Construction Award of Merit, and the University Park Towers Project received the American Builder Association Excellence in Construction Award. Recent projects awards include Parkview Housing receiving the Green House award and design Excellence award from FEFPA. Wolfe University Center Panther Square received a design Excellence award from FEFPA.

Number of years at FIU: 26

What do you enjoy most about your job? Working with the university community to plan and develop projects that will effectively serve to educate future generations.

What should students and fellow faculty/staff know about your department? We are here to help facilitate building programming, design and construction; strategic planning, budget planning, develop deferred maintenance priorities; serve on a variety of committees – including university space planning, campus master planning,  selection committees; serve as a project manager for business affairs/facilities management on the development and execution of public private partnerships.

Where is your favorite spot on campus? Toss-up between the Nature Preserve at MMC and the Sky Lounge at Bayview Housing.

Why? I enjoy the outdoors and the view of the beautiful Biscayne Bay.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about FIU? The ceaseless dedication of the people who serve this institution with their talents and time.

How do you help make FIU “Worlds Ahead?” I have dedicated my career to building a better FIU and feel privileged to have a role in constructing more than $350 million in new buildings and/or renovation of existing facilities. As the president likes to say lately, we make the “invisible – visible.” 

Family snapshot: Married 26 years to my lovely wife Mary. Two children: Jacob, 20, and Joshua, 16.

Word that best describes you: Builder

First paying job: Life Guard / Summer Camp counselor

Favorite TV show: CBS 60 Minutes

What is playing on your iPod? Twenty One Pilots, Mozart, Rolling Stones, Jonny Diaz – Breathe

Your proudest accomplishment: Parkview Student Housing 

What do you do when you are not working at FIU? Travel, sampling wine, fine arts, cooking, gardening, outdoor photography, camping, road trips and video gaming with the boys.