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Wertheims make $10M naming gift to School of Music at FIU

Wertheims make $10M naming gift to School of Music at FIU

December 5, 2019 at 12:00am

Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim have announced a $10 million naming gift to the FIU School of Music, part of the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA). The gift, which will establish several new programs that will elevate the school’s global distinction and identity, is the largest ever made to a music school in the State University System of Florida.

“This gift expresses our continuing passion for and commitment to FIU, our extraordinary hometown university and the importance of the performing arts, an essential aspect of quality of life,” Dr. Wertheim said. “This gift to support FIU’s dynamic performing arts programs will leverage previous investments we have made in health and business, resulting in enhanced interdisciplinary collaboration between areas and impacts that will benefit our students and community.”

Dr. Wertheim is committed to help raise another $10 million for the school. He also noted that most FIU students remain in the community following graduation, becoming "extraordinary citizens" who are making it better. 

The gift will support both music and theater programs in CARTA. The funds will strengthen the college’s student-centric mission of learning-by-doing and enable the School of Music to achieve a top-50 public university ranking. Specifically, the funds will support student scholarships, expanding the physical footprint in the community, curriculum development, incremental faculty and professional staff, guest artists, master classes, faculty and student touring, international competitions, and facility enhancements. The Wertheims envision engaging international talent who have ties to Miami, such as DJ Khaled, Pharrell Williams, Julio Iglesias, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Andy Garcia and Danny Pino. 
“For decades, Herbert, Nicole and their daughters Erica Wertheim Zohar and Vanessa Wertheim, have been champions for FIU. They inspire with their vision and they help us excel,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “Their philanthropy and commitment have helped students attain a better future, strengthened research, and enhanced FIU’s impact.”

The donation from the Wertheims – the largest cash donors in FIU’s history – will also enable the school’s acclaimed organ studies program to establish a national platform, host internationally renowned organists, and create an international composition competition and prize. The Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center houses the largest concert organ in the southeast United States, which was donated to the university by the Wertheims in 1999 and named the Sydell Ida Wertheim Organ, in honor of Dr. Wertheim’s mother.
“The Wertheims represent a transformative commitment to the performing arts in South Florida and beyond,” said Brian Schriner, dean of CARTA, which enrolls approximately 4,000 students, 400 of whom are in the performing arts. “Together with the Wertheim family, we will expand the school’s global identity, fuel our community’s cultural vibrancy, and catalyze South Florida’s creative economy.”
The Wertheims have been benefactors of FIU for more than three decades, and their philanthropy has greatly impacted several programs: the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences, the Herbert & Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center, and the Wertheim Plant Research and Teaching Conservatory. Dr. Wertheim is an inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, who was featured in Forbes Magazine earlier this year. He currently serves as honorary chair of the university’s $750 million Next Horizon campaign and has previously filled many volunteer leadership roles at FIU.
“Advancing student success and a vibrant and healthy Miami are among the key goals of our Next Horizon campaign,” said Howard R. Lipman, CEO of the FIU Foundation, Inc. “The Wertheims have truly been architects of our university, and we are both humbled and thankful for their dedication to FIU and the community we serve.” 

 Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center

The Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center opened its doors in 1996 after the Wertheims donated more than $1 million to the university’s music, theatre and dance programs. Their initial investment in the arts at FIU was soon followed by a gift of the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center’s crown jewel, the Sydell Ida Wertheim Concert Organ, an awe-inspiring instrument featuring more than 4,000 pipes. Named for Herbert Wertheim’s mother, the concert hall organ is the largest in South Florida.

The Wertheims’ continued support has transformed the space into an incubator for student talent from the FIU School of Music and the FIU Department of Theatre as well as a top-notch venue for the likes of Arturo Sandoval, Susan Starr, Paquito D’Rivera, Miami String Quartet, Nestor Torres, Peabo Bryson, Tony Succar, Jon Secada, Misty Bermudez, Olivier Latry, Dame Gillian Weir, Amernet String Quartet and many more.

“Through their generosity and vision, the Wertheims have helped to give FIU a cultural hub, and now this standout facility serves both the university and greater South Florida as a driver of creativity and public engagement,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. 

In 2016, the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center celebrated 20 years of creative excellence. Use the toggle buttons on the timeline below to view highlights from the Wertheim’s history. ♦

—Timeline produced by Clara-Meretan Kiah

A legacy of giving

Dr. Herbert Wertheim and his wife Nicole have supported FIU for decades. In addition to the School of Music, their names grace the university’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences, Wertheim Conservatory and Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center.


Herbert and Nicole Wertheim, President Emeritus Modesto A. Maidique and Fredrick Kaufman inspect the construction of the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center in 1995.

The Wertheims also donated the School of Music’s custom-made pipe organ in 1999— the crown jewel of Wertheim Performing Arts Center. Named in honor of Dr. Herbert Wertheim’s mother, Sydell Ida Wertheim, who passed away in 1997, the 4,226-pipe concert organ is considered one of the finest pipe organs in Florida.
President Mark B. Rosenberg, Dr. Wertheim and Founding Dean Dr. John A. Rock ready to congratulate one of the 43 students who made up the inaugural class of the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at FIU's first White Coat Ceremony in 2009.
Dr. Wertheim and Nicole meet with medical students. Dr. Wertheim personally selected 10 students to have their tuition paid for by the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation Scholarship. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the median amount owed by graduating medical students in the United States is $190,000, but these 10 will graduate with zero debt.
Over 23 years, the School of Music has had nearly 400 Wertheim Fellows, amounting to $1.15 million in scholarships.
Dr. Wertheim and Nicole admire a mural at the Academic Healther Center (AHC3). In 2013, the Wertheims donated $10 million to name the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences. and support the strategic development of its health and research programs, bolster scholarships for students and sponsor professional advancement for faculty.
The Wertheim family pledged an additional $1 million for the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences. Dr. Wertheim made the surprise gift announcement during a ceremony to unveil a commissioned portrait of his wife in 2018.
Earlier this year, Dr. Wertheim and his wife celebrated his 80th birthday at the WPAC with daughters Erica and Vanessa. At the celebration, the Wertheims pledged $1 million in support of the School of Music's organ program.