Beyond the eye-popping numbers, contributions to the university’s $750 million campaign stand out for their intentions
–For FIU Magazine
From proud alumni to the biggest names in philanthropy and beyond, the public is taking note of FIU’s rapid ascent — and investing hundreds of millions in its future.
Recognizing FIU’s role as an anchor institution in South Florida and its goal to become a Top 50 public university by 2025, donors are enthusiastically backing initiatives to drive student success and research excellence through Next Horizon: The $750 Million Campaign for FIU.
An unsolicited, unrestricted $40 million gift from philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, is just one example. Scott selected FIU based on its commitment to social mobility (U.S. News & World Report ranked FIU 5th among U.S. public universities for social mobility), serving underrepresented communities and improving student success metrics.
Major foundations and corporations are taking notice, too. A $10 million investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is increasing the capacity of the newly named Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences to develop talent to meet the demands of industry and South Floridians seeking to advance their tech skills. And a partnership with Bank of America is helping minority students successfully complete the education and training they need to enter the workforce after graduation.
“Investments like this confirm what we at the university witness every day — FIU is a place of excellence, and many are taking notice,” said Howard Lipman, CEO of the FIU Foundation, adding, “Our donors stay involved with FIU for years because they see the impact their dollars are making in the lives of students and the community.”
Those who are among the most rooted in FIU’s energetic campus life — its alumni, faculty and staff — are also embracing the challenge. Alumni have contributed $74.6 million to Next Horizon. Faculty and staff have exceeded $32 million in giving, last year reaching 83% participation, placing it atop the State University System and leading among all university employee campaigns.
EVERY DONATION FROM A GRADUATE MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIFE OF A CURRENT STUDENT. ALUMNI GIVING LIKEWISE BOOSTS FIU’S REPUTATION AS SUCH CONTRIBUTIONS FACTOR INTO UNIVERSITY RANKINGS AS ESTABLISHED BY U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT.
The support is adding up: Donors have contributed more than $95 million to scholarships through Next Horizon (including $36.8 million for scholarships benefiting students who are the first in their families to attend college).
It’s helping FIU students like international relations major and Millennium Fellow Prachi Lalwani leave an indelible mark in the world. Lalwani, from Venezuela, plans to pursue a career as a human rights advocate and has completed internships and apprenticeships in Washington, D.C. She says the private scholarship funds she received defrayed her living expenses in the capital and made her achievements possible — an extension of the support she received from professors and other mentors on campus in Miami.
“FIU provides me a learning environment that will allow me to be a leader in my profession and as an ambassador in the future,” Lalwani said. “FIU is the place where I discovered who I am and how to be something bigger than myself.”
Consider also the $56.1 million in private support raised for cutting-edge research, like the Paul G. Allen Foundation-supported Global FinPrint, an unprecedented project advancing the world’s knowledge of endangered shark species, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-supported Commons for Justice project, which seeks solutions to address racial and ethnic disparities among vulnerable communities in preparing for and recovering from a disaster.
And the university’s endowment — which supports the university in perpetuity and is an indicator of the financial stability of a higher education institution — has grown from $95 million in 2010 to $276 million last fiscal year. Additionally, total net assets have grown from $177 million in 2010 to $473 million last fiscal year.
Lipman is confident this trend of support will continue to grow as FIU continues its rise through the ranks.
“Our generous donors help make FIU’s incredible achievements possible, and in turn, more people will recognize our impact on our students, alumni, community and world.”