Florida International University is only a little more than 40 years old, so more than many other schools, it’s still forming its history is still coming together.
I have described FIU as a ‘homegrown’ university in the past. It is a relatively young school (founded in 1965, first classes in 1972 under President Charles Perry) but has become a key research facility in South Florida. It began with under 6,000 students and now counts more than 38,000 in its ranks. The university, after first establishing itself at an old airport tower (called the Tamiami Airport Tower, which still stands at the University Park campus), has grown large and now has three campuses: University Park, Biscayne Bay and the Pembroke Pines Center.
FIU is still growing; new installments to the university include the Frost Art Museum and the Lakeview South residence complex as well as two colleges. The Colleges of Law and the College of Medicine were also established fairly recently. FIU is also the youngest university to be awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honors society.
FIU’s Miami-based University Park campus is dotted with palm trees, lakes, nature preserves and there’s even a pond that’s home to turtles (appropriately named Turtle Pond). University Park is the main campus of Florida International University – there’s also the Biscayne Bay campus in North Miami – and features the Ronald W. Regan Presidential House where the FIU president lives, the Wertheim Performing Arts Center, Frost Art Center, International Hurricane Research center, and the FIU stadium, among others. The campus is over 340 acres and its modern architecture reflects the university’s youth.
In its previous incarnation, FIU’s campus was the Tamiami Airport. Though the airport was destroyed in 1969 (four years after FIU was founded), there’s one building still standing from that time: reminder of University Park Towers, a dorm where most students in campus housing live.
University Park Towers and three other housing complexes are on the southern edge of campus, while University Park Apartments on the eastern edge. Greek housing is also in this general area. The football and baseball stadiums anchor the other campus perimeters. Academic buildings are at the center of campus, as well as the library.
FIU’s campus is in Miami, and students take advantage of the urban environment.
FIU is set in one of the most urban areas of Miami. Located next to SW 8th Street (affectionately known as Calle Ocho), FIU is near many venues for entertainment and fun (a shuttle service is provided for a local club/event called ‘Thursdays at the Cove’). Students can also find their necessities right across the street, with a plaza equipped with a supermarket, a number of restaurants, a pharmacy and gas stations. Also across from FIU are apartments, many of which house students.
Although the area is always full of traffic and quite chaotic it is safe, but not centered towards students. Across campus you are as likely to see a student as a non-student.
‘Spinning the Cube’: FIU's campus features a variety of sculpture and artwork. One piece, simply known as ‘The Cube’ among students, is as much a campus icon as our mascot, Roary the Panther. This large cube sits outside of Deuxieme Maison is seen by students as a good luck charm. Before exams, students spin the cube once for luck. Hundreds of students spin this cube every year for successful test grades.
‘Step on the Seal, Don't Graduate in Four Years’: one superstition/tradition involves a seal located outside the Graham Center, known as FIU's ‘living room.’ Right outside its doors in the floor is a large seal featuring the FIU logo and motto. If a student steps on the seal, then it is said that their graduation will be delayed by many years, or even - in extreme cases - postponed indefinitely. Students can be seen jumping over the seal in defiance of this superstition or doing their best to avoid touching it, even during busy days.
‘Turtle Love’: on the outskirts of Deuxieme Maison sits a large pond filled with turtles and other wildlife. A small blue bridge crosses over it, leading to other campus buildings. One tradition holds that this bridge - known as the "Kissing Bridge" - brings soul mates together. If two people kiss while standing on the bridge, it is said they will stay together for the rest of their lives. Students have taken advantage of this bridge while enjoying the wildlife beneath.
Cecilia Maria Altonaga (1983) is the first Cuban-American woman to serve as a US federal judge.
Liz Balmaseda (1981) writes for the Miami Herald and won two Pulitzer Prizes for her journalism.
Carlos Alberto Arroyo Bermudez (attended) is the fifth Puerto Rican to play in the NBA.
Andy Garcia (attended) is an Academy Award-nominated actor who starred in The Godfather: Part III, the Untouchables and Ocean’s Eleven, among other films.
Elsa Alina Murano (1981) is the 23rd president of Texas A&M University.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (1975) has served as representative of Florida’s 18th congressional district since 1989, and is now the most senior Republican woman in the US Congress.
FIU’s Golden Panthers compete in the Sun Belt Conference of the NCAA’s Division I (the exception, men’s soccer, competes in Conference USA as an affiliate member). The football team, currently under Mario Cristobal, moved to the Sun Belt Conference in 2005 and won its first season 5-6. The football team competes annually in the Shula Bowl against Florida Atlantic University; the rivalry has spread to the two schools’ basketball and baseball competitions as well.
There is also women’s basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming & diving, volleyball, softball, and track & field. FIU’s athletics programs has produced many pro players, both male and female.
Florida International University was originally an airport.
FIU’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management is collaborating with China’s ministry of Education to prepare for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing (the only U.S. school involved in the prep work).
FIU is just a little over 40 years old and has had only four presidents.
In 2000, FIU became the youngest university awarded a Phi Beta Kappa chapter.
FIU’s University Park campus has five residential complexes: University Park Apartments, University Park Towers, Everglades Hall, Lakeview Hall (partitioned into North and South), and Panther Hall. University Park Apartments is on the eastern edge of campus; the other four dorms are on the southern edge.
The University Park Towers is one of the largest facilities for on-campus residents, and houses up to 495 students. The complex has three wings—North Tower, South Tower, and West Wing. Included are laundry facilities, a pool, and a sand volleyball court. There are three room choices for the Towers - a four-bedroom apartment suite, a two-bedroom suite with a shared bathroom, or a studio single with a private bathroom.
The University Park Apartments complex has ten buildings. Opened in 1986, these apartments have a variety of set-ups, though most offer single and double occupancy rooms with up to four bedrooms per apartment. These apartments are geared toward upperclassmen, but are subject to availability.
Panther Hall, which houses up to 410 students, is comprised of three wings. These buildings feature double occupancy rooms in a two-bedroom suite. Shared bathroom and refrigerator are included. These dorms also have a program called FYRST (First Year Residents Succeeding Together) for incoming freshmen, which creates a small community for residents that includes study sessions and other events.
Like Panther Hall, Everglades Hall—which opened in fall 2002—is divided into three wings. Inside, there are classrooms, lounges, laundry facilities and a computer lab for printing. There is one unit type available at Everglades Hall, which is organized into three furnished single bedrooms and a fully-equipped kitchen. Upperclassmen have the option of living in Honors Place (if they have been admitted to the Honors College prior), where a community of on-campus honors students is housed. There are also accommodations for Leaders in Residence.
Lakeview is the newest installment to the housing stock, finished in fall 2006. The complex, which includes two buildings, Lakeview Hall North and Lakeview Hall South, houses up to 825 students. Lakeview includes laundry facilities, lounge spaces, and an academic resource room, which includes computer access and tutoring. There is also a courtyard with a volleyball court and swimming pool. Two room types are available: a private room in a four-bedroom suite and a double occupancy room within a two-bedroom suite. Furnished bedrooms and full refrigerators are included. Lakeview also participates in FYRST (including a separate program for Arts and Architecture majors), and also has an Honors Place community.