Dear members of the university community,
It is with mixed emotions that I inform you that my friend and colleague, Dr. Kenneth G. Furton, will be moving into a new role as Chief Scientific Officer, Executive Director of the Global Forensic and Justice Center (GFJC) and Provost Emeritus early next year.
Without question, Ken has been our most successful and impactful provost among all the provosts in FIU’s history. He is the longest-serving provost and has planned, coordinated and guided our ascent as a top-rated public university. He also has led by example with his research and innovative discoveries that have earned national and international recognition for our university.
Ken joined FIU in 1988 as a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and in 1997 founded FIU's International Forensic Research Institute (IFRI), which is globally recognized as one of the premier research and teaching institutes on forensic science. From 2007 to 2014, he served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, which he reorganized to better address real-world problems in areas such as environmental resilience, integrated science and humanity and international and public affairs. He created the School of International and Public Affairs which this year was elected as the youngest member of the elite Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) joining only 40 universities globally.
During his time at our FIU, Ken has played leadership roles in securing $150 million in philanthropic gifts, including $100 million as provost. He has also led two university strategic planning teams that helped create the dynamic, results-oriented FIU we know today.
Under Ken’s leadership, FIU has seen the following improvements and public university rankings:
- Increased average GPA of incoming freshman from 3.9 to 4.3
- Increased average SAT of incoming freshmen from 1121 to 1270
- Increased second-year academic progress rate from 76.9 percent to 90.4 percent
- Increased four-year FTIC graduation rate from 24.8 percent and two-year AA transfer graduation rate from 28 percent to surpassing 60 percent this year
- Five-fold increase to 118 in the number of online degree programs offered
- The most improved R1 university in the nation in U.S. News rankings, improving 54 spots in five years to No. 78
- Moved from No. 8 to the No.1 State University in Florida in Performance rankings and obtaining the highest performance score in the history of the program with 99 points
- Nearly doubled doctorate degrees to 460 annually
- Doubled research expenditures to more than $250 million annually
- Quadrupled the number of post-doctorates to 260
- Quadrupled the number of national academies and National Academy of Inventors members to 17
- 30-fold increase in patents
- 13-fold increase in patents licensed
- Moved from Carnegie R2 to R1 Research University (top ranking)
- Moved from 0 to 9 preeminence metrics and named an Emerging Preeminent Research University
- Selected as one of 42 Ashoka Changemaker campuses in the world
- Ranked No. 3 Young University by Times Higher Education
- Ranked No. 5 in Social Mobility in U.S. News rankings
- Ranked No. 6 in Times Higher Ed Impact rankings
- Ranked No. 17 Most Innovative in U.S. News rankings
- Ranked No. 26 in Entrepreneurship by Princeton Review
- Attained a total of 89 Top 50 national rankings this year
Deeply committed to the academy, Ken has 26 patents and 219 peer-reviewed publications with an h-index of 50. His research projects have been continuously funded for more than three decades, totaling more than $14 million in external funding.
He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences as well as the National Academy of Inventors. He has also received significant attention in the past few years for ground-breaking work his team has done on understanding how dogs detect odors emitted by humans, drugs, currency, accelerants, explosives, invasive species, fungi and medical conditions including most recently COVID-19. His work with dogs and COVID-19 this year has reached an audience of 600 million worldwide.
Please join me in thanking Ken for the hard and lasting work he has put into our FIU over the past three decades and the difference he has made in the lives of our students, faculty and staff while serving as Provost these past eight years. I am sure he will continue to build on these successes in his new role.
In the coming weeks, I will make a separate announcement regarding how we will move forward with the search for our next provost.
Mark B. Rosenberg