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Historic $10 million gift will enhance arts programs
Dr. Herbert Wertheim with, from left, daughter Erica Wertheim Zohar, wife Nicole Wertheim and daughter Vanessa Wertheim

Historic $10 million gift will enhance arts programs

March 9, 2020 at 4:21pm

A pair of benefactors who have invested millions in support of educating the next generation of health care professionals has made a bold statement.

Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim in December announced a stunning $10 million gift to the School of Music within the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA). The largest donation ever made to a music school at a public university in Florida, it speaks to their belief that the study of performing arts should be a priority in our world.

“This gift expresses our continuing passion for and commitment to FIU, our extraordinary hometown university,” Dr. Wertheim said, “and the importance of the performing arts, an essential aspect of quality of life.”

The couple behind the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences stepped up to fund the dreams of students who choose to pursue careers as musicians, singers and composers as well as students studying acting and production in the theater department. The pair’s generosity will help establish several new programs to elevate the school’s reputation globally. Funds will also provide for scholarships, the hiring of additional faculty, the hosting of guest artists, travel expenses for students participating in competitions abroad and facility enhancements.

The Wertheims have been contributors to FIU for more than three decades, and their philanthropy has greatly impacted several programs. In addition to the colleges of medicine and nursing, the two helped make possible construction of the Wertheim Plant Research and Teaching Conservatory and the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center. Opened in 1996, the latter is a signature building on campus and houses the performing spaces as well as offices associated with music and theater. Additionally, the center is home to the largest pipe organ in the Southeast, a magnificent instrument named in honor of Dr. Wertheim’s mother.

“The Wertheims’ gift represents a transformative commitment to the performing arts in South Florida and beyond,” said Brian Schriner, dean of CARTA. “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.”

An inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Dr. Wertheim currently serves as honorary chair of the university’s $750 million Next Horizon campaign and has previously filled many volunteer leadership roles at FIU. In addition to investing financially in the university, the Wertheims have shown their commitment by attending campus events such as the medical school’s annual white coat ceremony, a rite of passage for first-year medical students. Notably, the pair in 2018 wiped out the loan debt of 10 graduating medical students who would otherwise have started their careers owing tens of thousands of dollars.