FIU Foundation News

FIU announces major gift to open center for women in communication

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) and the FIU Foundation today announced a gift by Dean Emeritus and Professor Dr. Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver to establish The Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication.
The charitable investment will position the center as a pioneering site for the advancement of women in the field of communication — a unique programming distinction at FIU. The Center’s mission is to foster and advance the academic and professional growth of women by supporting the next generation of professionals and giving them the impetus to take on challenges and to pursue leadership positions in the communication industry.
“This gift is a testimonial to the life work of Dr. Kopenhaver as a pioneer in her career and profession,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg.
The Center will engage females in a series of workshops, lectures, advisory boards, panel discussions and other activities, to further prepare them for successful communication careers – encouraging them to be future influencers and distinguished leaders of the profession.
Kopenhaver came to FIU in 1973 and rose through the ranks to become dean of SJMC in 2003, a post she held for more than eight years. Over the course of her tenure, Kopenhaver has been instrumental in creating programs and opportunities for students, particularly women. In what has historically been an industry largely dominated by men, Kopenhaver was frequently one of the few women to hold leadership positions and be part of the decision-making process within the communication fields.
“This gift is an investment in the future of mass communication,” said SJMC Dean Raul Reis. “As one of the founders of the SJMC, Dr. Kopenhaver has been a tireless advocate for women in communication and this gift helps lead the way for future generations of communicators. We are thankful to Dr. Kopenhaver for her leadership.”
Kopenhaver has experienced many firsts in her career, not only in the academy but also in the profession. In 1973, she was the first woman president of the Greater Miami Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In 1979, she was the first woman president of College Media Advisors, the now College Media Association.  In 1987, Kopenhaver was only the second woman in 77 years to receive the prestigious Wells Memorial Key for her work with the national organization of the Society of Professional Journalists.
“To support an institution which has been a fundamental part of my life is both a personal and a professional investment,” said Kopenhaver, who stepped down as dean in 2011 to return to teaching. “This Center is the realization of my thinking for several years as to how best to make a commitment to support the inventive thinking, research and development in the field which is so critical right now as the industry faces the impact of the digital transformation. My vision for the Center is to also ensure that the SJMC at FIU stays at the forefront in engineering forward-thinking as we educate and mentor women to be groundbreaking leaders in the field of communication.”
The Center will officially open at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the fall at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication on the Biscayne Bay Campus.
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