After touring the fifth floor of the second phase of the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs, Ambassador Steven J. Green had one word to describe the soon-to-be-completed west wing of the school he named in 2015.
“Fantastic,’’ he said after meeting with faculty, students and leadership of the Green School. “It’s wonderful to see the expansion of the school.”
It was the ambassador’s first visit to the new building, along with his wife, Dorothea Green, daughter Kimberly Green and Mireille Charles, executive director of the Green Family Foundation. The 85,000-square-foot, LEED-certified building was funded by a mix of philanthropy and public dollars: $15 million from the Greens, along with $12.7 million from the state of Florida.
“As a family, we are extremely proud of this school,’’ Green added, noting, in particular, the recent ascension of the Green School as a full member of the prestigious Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA), one of only 38 in the world and the only one in Florida.
“It speaks to what’s being accomplished here,” he said of the APSIA designation. “We thank all of you for everything you are doing in support of these efforts.”
Pedro Botta, who led the tour for the Green School, said the Greens seemed impressed by the spaciousness and layout of the new building, designed by renowned architect Yann Weymouth, who also designed the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum and the MANGO building at FIU.
“I think they were blown away by the design, the natural light throughout the building and the seamlessness between the two buildings,’’ said Botta, executive director of strategic initiatives and marketing at the Green School.
Nestled between the existing Green School building and the Labor Center, the new structure is linked to the original by a covered walkway and short bridges on floors 2 through 5. The building will enable the school to pull most of its departments and centers under one roof for the first time since the school was created in 2008.
In addition to the covered walkway, Botta said the two buildings will also be linked on the first floor by the existing Green School gallery, which will continue to be used for art exhibitions and conversations that complement the global issues explored by the Green School.
Kimberly Green, who serves as president of the Green Family Foundation, said she was eager to collaborate with several Green School centers and programs, particularly in the area of arts and humanities. The foundation recently launched Green Space Miami, a new art space that hosts community conversations on critical social issues, particularly those involving historically marginalized communities.
Green Space Miami is already partnering with FIU’s Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab – led by history professor Rebecca Friedman - for an exhibition on Little Haiti with Miami Herald photographer Carl Juste and hopes to do more, including working with the Green School’s Global Indigenous Forum, which seeks to promote indigenous voices and experiences on campus.
“All of these universes and constellations are coming together and it’s really impressive,’’ Kimberly Green said, after receiving an update from interim Dean Shlomi Dinar, along with various program directors, faculty members and students from the Green School’s award-winning Model UN team.
During the 90-minute session, Dinar announced several initiatives and programs being planned, including the creation of a faculty exchange program with other APSIA schools around the world; a lecture series featuring APSIA school deans; and the creation of two new fellowships named for the Greens: the Kimberly and Dorothy Green Fellowship for Senior Faculty, to assist associate and full professors with completing and publishing their research, and the Kimberly and Dorothea Green Fellowship for Advanced Doctoral Students, to assist Ph.D. students with completing their dissertations.
“This is just a taste of what we are doing,’’ Dinar told the ambassador at the conclusion of the meeting.
“It was more like a full meal,’’ joked the ambassador.
Dinar said the Green School is also partnering with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, where Green served as ambassador from 1997 to 2001. The ambassador said he welcomed the opportunity to assist with collaborations between FIU and organizations in Singapore and throughout Southeast Asia because of his many connections there.
In addition, the Green School’s signature event under the Dorothea Green Lecture Series will be renamed State of Global Democracy, to reflect the considerable challenges to democracy being faced by nations throughout the world, including the United States.
“There is a critical mass being built in the area of democracy at the Green School and we want to continue to pursue that,’’ said Dinar, noting as one example the “building of local leadership for democracy” through the recently launched Maurice A. Ferré Institute for Civic Leadership.
Anthony Pereira, recently appointed director of the Kimberly Green Latin America and Caribbean Center, agreed, noting that Latin America in particular is witnessing a backsliding of democratic institutions.
“It’s not always the military coups we are used to seeing,’’ he said. “It’s the gradual degrading through institutional tinkering that is moving (nations) toward authoritarianism. We want to research these things and be guardians of (democracy).”
Another occupant of SIPA II will be the Ferré Institute, led by founding director Agatha Caraballo, who spoke about several of the institute’s initiatives, including a civic engagement campaign with Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava called Super Citizens.
The institute will fill most of the second floor of the new building, including a reading room, classroom and office space and a special collection of the former Miami mayor’s artifacts, including several keys to cities he received over the years.
At the end of the tour, Kimberly Green said she was happy to see the growth and progress at the Green School.
“The Green Family and the Green Family Foundation are honored and humbled by the efforts of the team at FIU and SiPA toward the education and shaping of a new generation of leaders,’’ she said. “The unique position Miami and South Florida hold in the world, in particular the Global South, sets the stage for our students to receive the most diverse and integrated education to prepare them to face our ever-shifting world.”