The following message was shared by President Kenneth A. Jessell on the morning of Friday, Dec. 2.
Dear members of the university community,
In recent days, I have been collaborating with colleagues and community leaders to address an FIU Cuban Research Institute-sponsored book presentation. During this presentation, which is part of a long-standing series sponsored by the Cuban Research Institute that hosts authors of books on topics related to Cuba and the Cuban American diaspora, Boston University Professor Dr. Susan Eckstein will present next week on her book “Cuban Privilege: The Making of Immigrant Inequality in America.”
After learning of the event several days ago, it became clear to me that we had an opportunity to enhance it by including other points of view so that we could have a balanced and objective discussion. The event now ensures that we meet the academic rigor and standards of debate and preserve everyone’s right to express their point of view while remaining mindful and sensitive to the experiences of our community.
Dr. Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat, spokesperson for the Cuban Democratic Directorate and author of “Cuba: The Doctrine of the Lie,” will participate as the discussant. This format will ensure a scholarly and worthwhile discussion on an important topic.
Because of the widespread interest in the topic, we are moving the symposium from Books & Books in Coral Gables to a larger venue at FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus. The event will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 9, at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center.
Universities have a responsibility to uphold freedom of expression and support open discussion of issues, even those that may be controversial. At FIU, a public research university rooted in a community largely made up of exiles and immigrants who fled communism and other oppressive regimes, this responsibility takes on a new meaning.
Academic freedom and civil discourse are at the heart of our mission. We know that our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members expect that we uphold these principles.
As a native South Floridian, I have been blessed to know and work with many Cuban Americans. While I will never personally know the pain the Cuban exile community has endured at the hands of the totalitarian regime on the island, I have an appreciation for the history that informs this conversation and the many contributions Cuban Americans have made to the development of FIU, Miami, the State of Florida, and beyond. I assure you we are using these recent events as an opportunity to improve our processes and ensure we create programs that meet the highest academic standards while remaining sensitive to our community. We know you expect nothing less.
Kenneth A. Jessell