Promoting Excellence: Bacardi USA donates $5M to FIU

Check Presentation at Bacardi-FIU Dinner hosted at Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits in Wynwood, FL. From left to right: Michael Cheng/Dean Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, Wayne E. Chaplin/ CEO, Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits, Facundo L. Bacardi/Chairman of the Board Bacardi Limited, Pete Carr/President, Bacardi North America, Mark B. Rosenberg/FIU President

Gift will create the Bacardi Center of Excellence at the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management and support CasaCuba

–By Ivonne Yee-Amor

Gift will create the Bacardi Center of Excellence at the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management and support CasaCuba

FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management has announced a $5 million gift from Bacardi USA dedicated to a new and unique educational program tailored for the spirits industry. The gift will create the Bacardi Center of Excellence, which will position the top-ranked school as a leader in beverage management education and partner with one of the world’s most historic and leading spirits companies.  

The Bacardi Center of Excellence will provide student scholarship opportunities, promote community events and provide pathways to entrepreneurship. The Bacardi Beverage Innovation Fund will be used to establish a beverage curriculum and create collaboration opportunities between Bacardi USA and FIU faculty. The Bacardi Scholarship Endowment will offer students financial assistance and establish professorships. 

Brian Connors, director of the Bacardi Center for Excellence

In November, the Chaplin School named Brian Connors director of the Bacardi Center for Excellence. Connors served as the center’s interim director since its creation. Under his leadership, the center launched the Spirits Management major in fall 2020, with classes such as Beverage Law and Beverage Marketing. All the new courses this spring will be taught in the newly unveiled Bacardi Center of Excellence classroom located on the first floor of the Chaplin School’s Southern Wine and Spirits Beverage Management Center.

The gift also expands programming at FIU’s CasaCuba. CasaCuba seeks to provide a dynamic home for the discussion and study of Cuban affairs – history, policy and business – and the celebration of Cuban culture. The initiative is bringing together scholars, policymakers, business leaders, students, and the community at large to realize a multidimensional Cuban cultural center and think tank that will be housed in a state-of-the-art facility at FIU’s main campus. Family-owned Bacardi was originally founded by Don Facundo Bacardí Massó in Santiago de Cuba in 1862. Today, Bacardi Limited is the largest privately held spirits companies in the world and South Florida is home to the regional headquarters for North America. 

“At FIU we are proud to partner with Bacardi, a company with deep roots in our community and a legacy of success that goes back to Cuba more than a century ago,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “This gift will fuel a perfect combination of tradition and forward-looking projects that will benefit our students and the entire community for generations.”

“We are proud to strengthen the hospitality and tourism management work at FIU while connecting with the future talent of this industry,” said Pete Carr, President of Bacardi North America. “As a company proud of its Cuba origins, we are excited to support CasaCuba and help spotlight the culture that is forever a part of our story.”

In addition to the Bacardi Center of Excellence and the Bacardi Beverage Innovation Fund, Bacardi USA’s $5 million gift will also create the Bacardi Classroom, a Bacardi Spirits Management Track, and BacardiTeach, which includes micro-credentialing opportunities for FIU students, Bacardi employees, on-premise partners and branded educational programs for bartenders. The Bacardi Scholarship Endowment will support the previously mentioned initiatives, as well as the Bacardi Scholars, a multiyear blended scholarship program.  

“Our partnership with Bacardi USA will positively affect our university, our school’s programs, and the hospitality industry, plus it will greatly enhance the hands-on learning experience for our students,” said Michael Cheng, dean of the Chaplin School. “We are honored to be part of a relationship that will leave a lasting impact.”

“We greatly appreciate Bacardi USA making such a sizeable investment supporting the FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management,” said Wayne Chaplin, chief executive officer for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and a member of the family for which the school is named. “Giving back in the communities we serve and advancing educational opportunities for future leaders in the hospitality industry are values that Southern Glazer’s and Bacardi USA have in common. This gift will go a long way to further enrich the world-class beverage education program at the school that my family and Southern Glazer’s have been proud to support.”

With this gift, Bacardi USA becomes a major investor in FIU’s Next Horizon campaign, the university’s effort to raise $750 million in support of student success and research excellence. FIU’s Next Horizon campaign has raised more than $552 million.