Young alumnus’ gift lays foundation for media, technology institute


The average age of philanthropists is 65, but Steven Cruz, 28, is bucking the trend. In support of the FIU Next Horizon campaign, Cruz has announced a planned gift of $1.2 million to establish the Steven Cruz Institute for Media, Science + Technology within the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts.

A product of Miami, Cruz is a 2011 FIU graduate with strong local roots and global reach, who has established himself as one to watch, earning a place on HuffPost’s 25 Top Millennial Broadcasters in American News and Politics.

A passionate communicator and advocate for limited government and personal freedom, Cruz began his career as the digital director for The LIBRE Initiative, the largest national conservative Hispanic outreach group in the country. He is a frequent panelist, writer and television commentator for both English- and Spanish-language outlets. Additionally, Cruz has served as a spokesperson for and managed the digital efforts of  the $250 million Koch advocacy enterprise organizations, which also includes Generation Opportunity, Freedom Partners, Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Veterans for America.

“I believe that educated and engaged people are the key to human progress, and as science and technology continue to rapidly advance and change the ways in which we interact with one another, it is critical that we develop mechanisms to adequately inform the public about the changing realities of our environment,” said Cruz, president of Resuelve, Inc. “FIU and the Cruz Institute will lay the foundation for future research and innovation on the ways that media can be used to further tolerance, deepen our understanding and strengthen our society.”
 
According to the Pew Research Institute, the gap between television and online news consumption is narrowing, and 67 percent of Americans get at least some news via social media. As media consumption shifts and news sources become more fragmented, this new institute will allow students and faculty to conduct research and develop applied projects, communication strategies and campaigns to further strengthen the understanding of how media literacy is integral to our society and the way we communicate.

Cruz’s planned gift lays the foundation for the institute’s research, teaching, mentoring, training and outreach. Communication experts, media specialists, journalists, as well as advertising, and public relations professionals, will work collaboratively with scientists, engineers, policy makers, and health care professionals —those generating complex scientific knowledge —to ensure their research and information is communicated effectively to various groups through multiple platforms.
 
“The public’s understanding of science and tech-related matters is essential for our well-being as a society. It determines the legislation we pass, the behaviors we adopt, and the causes we champion,” said Brian Schriner, dean of the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts . “However, research shows that scientists and citizens often see the same information through different lenses, especially polarizing issues. IMST will help bridge that gap. We hope Steven’s gift will inspire other FIU alumni and those who care about the future of the communication industry to contribute to this groundbreaking institute.”