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Interim President Kenneth A. Jessell: 'Welcome to Fall 2022 at FIU!'

Interim President Kenneth A. Jessell: 'Welcome to Fall 2022 at FIU!'

August 22, 2022 at 9:21am

Dear FIU family,

Welcome to Fall 2022 at FIU!

Today is an exciting day for the entire Panther family. I find the beginning of every academic year to be accompanied by a sense of anticipation and hope. This year is no exception.

We’re glad you are here. We’re inspired by the energy you bring to our campuses and uplifted by the creativity and commitment that drives your intellectual pursuits. On behalf of our faculty, our professional and support staff, our university leadership team, and our Board of Trustees, welcome to Fall Semester 2022 at FIU!

While I have been a part of the FIU family for 13 years, this is my first Fall semester as your interim president. It is an honor and a privilege to lead this remarkable institution, which every day elevates our students and our community to new heights.

Nationally, we are rewriting the narrative of a 21st-century research university, leading transformational change through research excellence and student success. Panthers, you are part of a university focused on the success of its students. Did you know that FIU ranks among the top 3 percent of the nation’s 4,300 colleges and universities in research production? Or that we are in the top 10 in research expenditure growth in the past decade among Carnegie R1 public universities? Or that we have more than $250 million in annual research expenditures? Against this backdrop of research excellence, we recently ranked in the Top 25 nationally, joining elite private and public institutions alike, in a survey measuring the economic return on graduates’ investment in a college degree. It takes FIU graduates, on average, only 13 months to pay back their educational investment with new earnings. This fact underscores our status nationally as a Top 5 public institution in social mobility.

The world is taking note. In the past five years, we have improved more rapidly in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings than any other Carnegie R1 public university in the country. This meteoric rise is made possible through the collective efforts of our FIU family.

This year, the university celebrates its 50th anniversary. In September of 1972, FIU opened its doors to our community, welcoming more than 5,600 students. Since then, this university has become a thriving ecosystem of excellence, diversity and success – at a scale unlike any university in the country – where students, researchers and faculty continually expand our notions of what is possible.

Soon, you will hear more about the ways we are commemorating this milestone, and I hope you will join the festivities. As we celebrate our university’s courage to become what our students, community and state needed us to be at key moments in history, we look forward to our Next Fifty with the same passion that has guided our evolution thus far.

On Tuesday, we will celebrate the grand opening of Tamiami Hall at MMC, our newest on-campus residence hall for juniors, seniors and graduate students. The building is stunning, with spacious and modern rooms, welcoming gathering areas and study spaces, and magnificent views of our campus and FIU football stadium.

Speaking of football, FIU is energized for the upcoming season, under the leadership of new football coach Mike MacIntyre. The 2022 FIU Football Season kicks off on Thursday, September 1, at FIU Stadium, when the Panthers face the Bryant University Bulldogs. We need all of you to pack the stands and support our student-athletes as we celebrate this New Day in Panther athletics. We are also gearing up for our Homecoming celebrations, culminating with the Homecoming game on Saturday, October 8, at MMC. And there’s sure to be excitement throughout the semester from several of our teams, in particular men’s and women’s soccer, basketball, and women’s swimming & diving, which experienced some amazing successes last season. For the full breadth and depth of our intellectual, cultural and athletic activities, please check out the FIU Calendar and FIU News, great resources for what’s going on at our university. 

Key to our forward momentum is strong and intentional leadership. As you know, the FIU Board of Trustees is conducting a national search for FIU’s sixth president. The Presidential Search Committee, in collaboration with the search firm R. William Funk & Associates, has been working diligently for several months to identify FIU’s next leader.

Throughout the semester, I encourage you to remain informed and engaged. Please visit the FIU website for additional information about the presidential search, our new healthy living guidelines, our efforts to support the Florida Board of Governor’s Statement of Free Expression, and more.

Panthers, I’m excited to see you on campus this Fall. To celebrate a new year of goals and successes, join me in wearing FIU gear all week long. Rep the blue and gold and help spread that Panther Pride!

 Have a wonderful Fall! Paws up, Go Panthers!

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Kenneth A. Jessell

Interim President