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Letter from the editor: In praise of our founders
Founders still on the job 50 years later: Left-right, seated: Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver, Susan Himburg, Maida Watson; standing: Florentin Maurasse, Stephen Fain, Rocco Angelo

Letter from the editor: In praise of our founders

September 12, 2022 at 5:43pm

As FIU marks a milestone year, we remember the hundreds who laid the groundwork for 50 years of nonstop growth and success. They built a university that today stands among the largest in the nation and powers an entire region.

Betty Perry, FIU’s first first lady (who in 1974 became an alumna), arrived in South Florida in 1969 with visionary founding president Charles E. “Chuck” Perry. Integral to the life of the developing institution, she recently recalled the early days.

“Chuck had a very good team of people who moved there at the same time we did. They were as dedicated and spent as many hours working as Chuck. Those people, and many, many others afterwards, really gave their lives to that project. I’m very proud to say I knew a lot of them.”

A half-century later, the FIU community shares Mrs. Perry’s awe over what those pioneers accomplished. “It was pretty much a miracle from the very first second,” she said of a seemingly impossible task. Not so much as an old desk greeted the first president when he arrived on a barren campus. Today, students take their places in auditoriums equipped with the latest technology. They learn from professors who conduct world-impacting research. They graduate to jobs that put them at the forefront of their professions. As alumni, they step up to leadership positions, invent new solutions and attract attention for their feats of creative expression.

And they remember where they got their start.

To Mrs. Perry and the countless many whose collective legacy has unfolded in the most remarkable way, thank you.

Forever grateful,

Alexandra Pecharich