–By Amy Ellis for FIU News
The Maurice A. Ferré Foundation has announced a $2 million gift to Florida International University and pledged to raise additional funds, totaling $5.55 million, for the university to establish the Maurice A. Ferré Institute for Civic Leadership at the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs.
The new institute will honor the life and work of its namesake and will address the critical matters of preparing diverse leadership for public service, increasing civic participation for a stronger democracy and promoting social justice. The institute’s research and scholarship will examine a wide range of issues championed by Ferré, who served as mayor of the City of Miami from 1973 to 1985, over the course of his distinguished career in public service.
The Ferré Institute will be located in the new SIPA Phase II building of the Green School, currently under construction, and have a dedicated reading room. Additionally, Ferré’s extensive personal library and archives collection will be donated to the institute. Chronicling a lifetime of public service, Ferré’s collection contains papers, correspondence, documents, awards and artifacts collected during his career and travels. The collection will be housed in the Special Collections and University Archives department of the Steven and Dorothea Green Library, offering permanent access for scholars, researchers and the public.
The Maurice A. Ferré Foundation will raise the balance of the $5.55 million from individuals and organizations committed to honoring Ferré’s legacy and championing the civic causes to which he dedicated his career. It will benefit the university’s Next Horizon campaign, which to date has raised $625 million toward a goal of $750 million for student success and research excellence.
Ferré led Miami through periods of turbulence – the McDuffie riots, the Mariel boatlift, and the drug wars – and he championed diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. He hired Miami’s first Black city manager and police chief. Ferré also hired Miami’s first Black city attorney, and together they tackled Miami’s long tradition of racial divisions, securing a federal consent decree to end discrimination in the hiring and promotion of city police officers and firefighters. As mayor, Ferré’s early vision of Miami as the gateway to the Americas set into motion the city’s transformation. He passed away in 2019.
“We are proud to partner with the Maurice A. Ferré Foundation,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “This gift will help prepare our FIU graduates to become citizens who will effect positive social change in local and global communities, following the example set forth by Mayor Ferré, who was a true role model of public service for our civic-minded students.”
Mercedes Malaussena Ferré, the widow of the late mayor, said the institute is an example of how his legacy lives on in the community.
“On behalf of my family, I would like to express our gratitude to President Rosenberg and Dean Stack for recognizing Maurice and his commitment to public aﬀairs with the establishment of the Maurice A. Ferré Institute for Civic Leadership,” Ferré said. “As education was essential to Maurice’s life and his interests, I know he would have been honored and most proud. During his lifetime he proudly served in a trustee or advisory position for several educational institutions, including the University of Puerto Rico, Carlos Albizu University, Barry College, Florida Memorial College, and his alma maters, the University of Miami and The Lawrenceville School. Now, with the creation of the Ferré Institute, Maurice’s dedication to Miami and the community of scholars at Florida International University will continue to grow.”
Academic, research and community programs at the Ferré Institute will include: a 15-credit certificate program open to FIU students and non-degree-seeking students interested in public service and promoting civic leadership and participation; workshops for K-12 teachers as well as elected officials and community leaders at the Civics Education and Public Service Hub; research and policy analysis on civic leadership and engagement to support a sustainable democracy; and programs, research and outreach activities related to Puerto Rico, its citizens and its diaspora in collaboration with the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center.
“Our partnership with the Maurice A. Ferré Foundation will positively affect our university, our school’s programs, and the experience for our students,” said John F. Stack, Jr., founding dean of the Green School. “We are honored to be part of a relationship that will leave a lasting impact and honor the life and work of Mayor Ferré.”