Local philanthropists and civic leaders Jorge and Darlene Pérez have donated $1 million to the Honors College.
The gift— the largest in Honors College history— creates the Jorge and Darlene Pérez Scholars Endowment, which will support scholarships for high-achieving students in the college, particularly those intending to live and work in the South Florida community upon graduation.
“The Honors College is where the best and brightest in our community go to become leaders and entrepreneurs while preparing for the 21st century workforce,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “We appreciate the Pérez family’s confidence in the work we are doing in the Honors College to ensure students receive a top-notch education and graduate in four years.”
An interdisciplinary unit, the Honors College offers students from every major and college the opportunity for advanced course work in a unique educational community that includes team-taught classes, research and an array of study abroad programs. FIU leadership believes the scholarships will attract more students to the Honors College.
“Honors College students are among the smartest, most creative, and hard-working students at FIU. They are leaders who are engaged at FIU and in the South Florida community. Our students go the extra mile: volunteering in local schools, conducting undergraduate research, curating art exhibitions, and so much more,” said Dean of the Honors College Juan Carlos Espinosa. “They are a talented and diverse group who work with some of the top professors at FIU to develop intellectual and vocational tools that will help them succeed.”
Jorge M. Pérez, CEO of The Related Group, and his wife, Darlene Boytell-Pérez, have long supported FIU. In 2013, the couple donated a collection of Cuban art valued at more than $315,000 to FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs and the Frost Art Museum. The donation included a gift of $250,000 in support of the Cuban Research Institute at FIU. The couple also donated $250,000 to the FIU College of Nursing and Health Sciences, which was the largest individual gift in the history of the program. Additionally, Boytell-Pérez, a nurse practitioner and a two-time graduate of the university, was named Alumna of the Year by the FIU Alumni Association in 2016 for her dedication to her alma mater.
“The FIU Honors College is producing the next generation of leaders in the South Florida community. We hope this gift will not only help these exceptional students achieve their goals at the university, but also bring about added opportunities for careers in South Florida after graduation,” said Pérez.
The Pérezes have been recognized for not only their generous donations, but also their significant involvement in Miami’s community. Jorge chaired the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council, sits on the board of the University of Miami (Pérez Architecture Center) and the Pérez Art Museum Miami, and also plays a prominent role in the Miami Film Festival, the National YoungArts Foundation and numerous other local organizations. Darlene is an adjunct clinical preceptor for FIU’s Nurse Practitioner Graduate Program, serves on the boards of Gulliver Schools and United Cerebral Palsy, and also served as a founding ambassador of the Pérez Art Museum Miami.
Howard Lipman, CEO of FIU Foundation, Inc., thanked the Pérez family for their continued support of FIU: “This donation will provide vital financial support to our students that will enable them to focus on their studies and graduate ready to go on to be leaders in our community.”