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Florida International University FALL 2007

Defying Mother Nature


Florida International University Magazine

FALL 2007


Florida International University

on the cover

volume 15

FALL 2007









in this issue

03 In Brief

24 Alumni News

Gov. Charlie Crist has appointed Albert

FIU Alumni Association Scholarship Fund

Maury ’96, ’02, president of Leon

awarded more than $8,000 in student

Medical Centers Health Plans, to the

scholarships at this year’s 5th Annual

Board of Trustees, making him FIU’s

Fishing Tournament.

first undergraduate alumnus to join the university’s governing body.

More reasons to Feel the Pride

10 Turning a Corner With the hiring of a new director from the


Ford Foundation, FIU’s premier international

Defying Mother Nature FIU’s International Hurricane Research Center is becoming nationally known for its research on hurricane mitigation. With nearly $18 million in new state dollars, the center will build a new headquarters and advance its ongoing projects. The center’s “Wall of Wind,” one of several ongoing IHRC research initiatives, will soon allow researchers to simulate a Category 5 hurricane, making it possible to test the resiliency of building techniques and products as never before. Illustrator Chris Short of Pennsylvania created the cover image for FIU Magazine.

26 The Fall 2007 Top 10

studies center, the Latin American and Caribbean Center, begins a new era.

30 Class Notes 32 Donor Profile The Shepard Broad Foundation and the Broad-Bussel Family have pledged the first private gift toward the new FIU

12 One to Watch Alumnus Julio Sáenz ’94 is a rising star in the bilingual newspaper industry.

International Studies Building.

33 VIP Cynthia Dienstag ’83 says her

14 A Music Revolution FIU alumni Kevin Sylvester ’03 and Wilner Baptiste, the musical duo known as Black Violin, are awing listeners with

involvement with FIU alumni programs has been an important way to give back to her alma mater.

a unique sound that blends classical and hip-hop influences.

in the next issue

Imagining Havana’s Future FIU Architecture Professor Nicolas Quintana and Dean of the College of Architecture and The Arts Juan Bueno have created an innovative plan for the future development of Havana. Their proposal would preserve the city’s cultural and historic heritage while allowing for future growth under a free market system. This ambitious plan looks at everything from the natural landscape to the coastline to historic buildings.




World traveler comes home

The Wonder of Weather

Making the Tough Calls

Alumna Alison Austin-Bruyning MS ’96 has traded a career in eco-tourism for a new calling, reaching out to Liberty City youth as the chief executive officer of the non-profit Belafonte TACOLCY Center.

FIU meteorology professor Hugh Willoughby reflects on an extraordinary career studying hurricanes and talks about the new atmospheric sciences program in the Department of Environmental Sciences.

In his first year at FIU, Athletic Director Pete Garcia has ushered in big changes and higher standards for FIU’s coaches and student-athletes.










FALL 2007

Florida International University

volume 15

from the editor Dear Readers, This issue of FIU Magazine brings exciting news from two of FIU’s most distinguished research centers: the International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC) and the Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC). As the 2007 hurricane season comes to a close, the IHRC is forging ahead with new research that aims to make our communities safer. The state of Florida has recognized the importance of this work, awarding IHRC nearly $18 million for new headquarters and for the further development of research technology. As science writer Aimee Dingwell describes in her story, IHRC’s research promises to help us better prepare for the annual hurricane season. At the Latin American and Caribbean Center, one of FIU’s premier international studies programs, a new director comes aboard this month. As we welcome Cristina Eguizábal, we salute LACC’s impressive growth under the leadership of Eduardo Gamarra, the outgoing director of 13 years. As a federally designated National Resource Center, LACC holds a unique place at the university. For graduate students, it provides a rigorous, interdisciplinary education. For public school teachers, LACC offers specialized training and curriculum materials. For the media, LACC has a wealth of expertise

FIU Magazine Editorial Advisory Board Cathy Ahles

Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Cathy Akens

Assistant VP Student Affairs Biscayne Bay Campus

Patricia Alvarez

Director, Sponsored Research and Training

Dr. Gisela Casines

Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Carol Damian

Professor of Art History, School of Art and Art History

Rafael Paz

Associate General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel

Executive Committee

Vice President University and Community Relations

Terry Witherell

Associate Vice President External Relations

Bill Draughon

William R. Trueba, Jr., Esq. ’90 President

Jose M. Perez de Corcho ’93 Vice President

Raymond del Rey ’97 Secretary

Associate Vice President Alumni Relations

George B. Brackett Jr. ’76 & ’77

Karen Cochrane

Samuel C. Jackson ’97

Associate Director Editorial Services

Deborah O’Neil

Editor, FIU Magazine

Aileen Solá Art Director Writers

Dr. Sally Gallion

Christina Bohnstengel

Sue Arrowsmith ’06



Ty N. Javellana, CPA ’88, MST ’98 Past President Officers

Gabriel Albelo ’93 Stewart L. Appelrouth MS ’80 José Manuel Díaz ’86 Cynthia J. Dienstag, Esq. ’83

Assistant Dean of Marketing, Communication, and Publications Aimee Dingwell College of Business Bryan Gilmer Administration

Ramón Ferrán ’79

Dr. Larry Lunsford

Carlos H. Hernández ’97

democracy and development programs, as well as research on policy issues.

William Trueba, Esq.

signals a new era for LACC, and we look forward to its continued success.

Sandra B. Gonzalez-Levy

Professor Emeritus, College of Education

through its faculty. For government and business leaders, LACC coordinates

about the region’s political, economic and cultural trends. Eguizábal’s arrival

Florida International University 2006-07 Alumni Association Board

Dr. Stephen Fain

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs University Ombudsman

And for the community, LACC’s public events provide a forum for dialogue

Division of University and Community Relations


President, FIU Alumni Association

Dan Grech

Martin Haro ’05 Jamal Thalji Photographers

Gloria O’Connell

Joaquín “Jack” F. González ’98 Dr. Jason Scout Hamilton ’89, MS ’93 Michael R. Méndez ’03 Raúl Pérez Ballaga, Esq.’97 Justo Luis Pozo ’80 Dr. Susan Webster ’87

Ivan Santiago Michael Upright Angel Valentin

Each of these centers plays an indispensible role in two of FIU’s academic and research priorities: environmental science and international studies. Each is also deeply engaged with the needs and interests of the South Florida community. I’m pleased to bring you stories of their latest developments. Best wishes,

Deborah O’Neil Letters to the Editor: FIU Magazine welcomes letters to the editor regarding magazine content. Send your letters via email to, by fax to 305-348-3247 or mail to FIU Magazine, Division of External Relations, UP PC 515, Miami, FL, 33199. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. All letters should include the writer’s full name and daytime phone number. Alumni, please include your degree and year of graduation. Change of Address: Please send updated address information to FIU Office of Alumni Relations, MARC 510, Miami, FL, 33199 or by email to FIU Magazine online: Visit

Alumni Office: FIU Office of Alumni Relations, UP MARC 510, Miami, FL 33199. Or call 305-348-3334 or toll free at 800-FIU-ALUM. Visit the Alumni Relations website at: for the latest news and alumni events. To receive the monthly electronic alumni newsletter, NOW@FIU, sign up at Gifts to FIU: Contact University Advancement at 305-348-6298 or visit: giving.htm Copyright 2007, Florida International University. FIU Magazine is published by the Florida International University Division of University and Community Relations and distributed free of charge to alumni, faculty and friends of the university. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. 9313_10/07



in brief FIU students gathered for the 30-year anniversary of Biscayne Bay Campus.

BBC celebrates 30-year anniversary FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus started as an offshoot of the university’s main campus with 1,332 upper-division students. thirty years later, the campus boasts more than 8,000 students, four academic buildings, a library, state-of-the-art conference centers and much more. on June 12, faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends gathered to celebrate BBC’s 30th birthday. “the 30th anniversary of the campus’s founding presents us with a great opportunity to focus attention on our spectacular home and its remarkable history,” said vice Provost damian Fernandez. “We will build on our past and inaugurate a new era of educational excellence.” In the past year, the campus has ushered in a number of upgrades. they include completion of a state-of-the-art Marine science building; opening of and beginning construction on a new dining facility; adding two new undergraduate programs and expanding courses. these efforts complement some of the university’s most prestigious programs, which are housed at BBC: hospitality and tourism management, journalism and mass

communication, marine biology, African new world studies and creative writing. n

Online diary tracks football stadium progress Golden Panther fans can now view photos and read updates on the progress being made on the new FIU football stadium by visiting http://www.fiusports. com and clicking on the link titled “stadium Construction.” the university broke ground on the new stadium in May and it is set to open in time for the 2008 football season. the new stadium will have more than 18,000 seats and amenities such as air-conditioned luxury suites, a wrap-around concourse with a full-field view, 14 luxury suites, 1,400 club suites, a video scoreboard and a stadium club. “this will be the crown jewel of the university’s athletic department,” said Athletic director Pete Garcia.

Miami-Dade Health Department moving headquarters to FIU University officials and the Florida department of Health signed an agreement that will relocate the department’s Miamidade headquarters to University Park. the department will be housed in a new building that is scheduled for completion in 2010. FIU faculty and students will work alongside department of Health practitioners, doctors and researchers in the facility. the estimated $27 million building will be constructed adjacent to the new College of Medicine. the new structure will be joined with FIU’s robert stempel school of Public Health, one of only 39 accredited schools of public health in the United states. Also nearby will be the FIU College of Nursing and Health sciences, which is scheduled to get its own state-of-the-art building by december 2009. the four buildings will form the foundation of a Health sciences Center. “only a few universities around the country have department of Health offices right on their campuses,” said FIU President Modesto A. Maidique. “It clearly works to the advantage of both parties and all the residents of the area.” n

FIU and UM enter student exchange agreement FIU and the University of Miami have entered into a student exchange agreement that will allow doctoral students from each institution to attend classes at either university and obtain credit for their original programs of study. “this agreement magnifies the effectiveness of the curricula at both universities by building on each other’s strengths,” said FIU Provost and Executive vice President ronald Berkman. “It also strengthens cooperation in research, which is the core of most doctoral programs.” Guest students will pay tuition and fees at their home institutions, but will abide by the


Florida International University Magazine

FALL 2007

in brief standards of the host institution, Berkman says. The agreement became effective this fall and will offer a wider selection of classes that will complement the students’ areas of academic interest. n

New portal features international programs FIU has launched a new public portal that showcases the university’s international programs. The website (http://international. is accessible from the top navigation bar of FIU’s homepage, The navigation on the page is arranged by academic area and provides quick access to information about each area’s international programs. The site also features international news related to FIU and highlights upcoming events and research. The university’s focus on international programming has increased exponentially since its founding. Programs with an international focus are now offered throughout the disciplines, from engineering to business to law. FIU also is home to several centers that

focus on international studies and regularly offer special events for the public: the Latin American and Caribbean Center, the Asian Institute, the Middle East Studies Center and the Center for Transnational and Comparative Studies, among others. n

Students publish book on Mediterranean art A group of 16 students in The Honors College has published a collection of research essays — the product of a year-long seminar — in a 150-page book titled, “Beauty & Power in the Mediterranean.” Golden Panthers Liala Abreu ’07, Elie Atho, Montserrat de Para, Juan N. Escobar, Maria E. Garcia, Gerardo Gomez-Galvis, Vanesa Herrera ’07, Yudiesly Herrera, Ricardo A. Largaespada, Lilibeth Miranda, Laura Ortega, Sarah Rodríguez, Crystal Sepulveda, Michelle Solano, Jenna Stone and Mirena Suarez researched their individual topics using art and propaganda objects from The WolfsonianFIU Museum’s Research Library, under the instruction of professor John Kneski.

Topics of research included “The Connection Between Art & Science in the Changing Views of the Human Body in the Mediterranean,” “La Dolce-Amaro Vita: Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita as Satire & Social Commentary on Post-World War II Italian Society” and “Public Spaces of Antiquity in Italy: The Relationship Between Time & Space in the ‘Monumental’ Piazza” by Sepulveda. Beauty & Power in the Mediterranean recently was accepted into the Library of Congress. The book was presented at the Student Research & Artistic Initiative in April and at the Florida Collegiate Honors Council conference in February. It will be presented at the National Collegiate Honors Council conference in Denver in November. n

Free trade advocate joins Board of Trustees The Florida Board of Governors has appointed a leading advocate for economic development and free trade to FIU’s Board of Trustees. Jorge L. Arrizurieta, the current

From student to trustee Albert Maury ’96, ’02 becomes FIU’s first undergraduate alumnus to be appointed to the university’s Board of Trustees By Deborah O’Neil

operating officer of Leon Medical

When Albert Maury graduated

Centers Health Plans, a fast-growing

from Florida International University

South Florida HMO that serves more

in 2002, he made sure his children

than 25,000 Medicare recipients. This

were in the audience. He wanted

summer, Maury also became the first

them to see the reason their father

undergraduate alumni to be selected

had been working so many late

by Gov. Charlie Crist to serve on

nights and weekends.

FIU’s 13-member governing body,

“It was a very special moment,”

the Board of Trustees.

said Maury. ���There is a light at the

“For me, being appointed

end of the tunnel and I took them

to the BOT brought a sense of

to it.”

accomplishment to be able to give

Today Maury, a father of four, is the 39-year-old president and chief

back my time to the university that gave me so much,” said Maury,

FALL 2007 Florida International University Magazine


in brief chair of the International Policy Group at Akerman Senterfitt, began his term in June. “Jorge’s knowledge and sharp vision of hemispheric issues will be a valuable addition to the board,” said FIU President Modesto A. Maidique. Arrizurieta, 41, is the past president of Florida FTAA, Inc., the private-public partnership led by former Gov. Jeb Bush, charged with making Miami the permanent seat of the secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. “FIU’s mission is one I have always fervently believed in,” said Arrizurieta. “I’ve always been impressed with the university’s programs in many areas, especially in international business and Latin American studies, which put FIU in a very good strategic position to help shape policy in the region. I’m looking forward to contributing to this great institution.” In the private sector, Arrizurieta has worked as vice president of public affairs at Huizenga

Holdings and for several of its subsidiaries, including AutoNation. Arrizurieta was also director of community relations for the Florida Marlins. Before that, he served as director of state projects for U.S. Sen. Connie Mack. Through his extensive career in the public and private sectors, Arrizurieta has volunteered his time to many charitable and civic organizations. He is currently a director at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Public Health Trust in Miami-Dade County. n

Japanese emperor honors FIU professor The government of Japan has awarded Steven Heine, director of the Institute for Asian Studies and professor of religion and history, with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the advancement of the study of Japanese culture and the promotion of understanding of Japan. The recognition is one of Japan’s most prestigious decorations. Other recipients

include U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who oversaw the occupation of Japan from 1945-1951 and former U.S. Senator Mike Manfield who served as ambassador to Japan from 1977-1988. Heine accepted the award at a ceremony in September at the Miami residence of the Japanese Consul General. Heine is the founding director of FIU’s Institute for Asian Studies, which offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees and participates in a variety of community outreach activities. A scholar of East Asian and comparative religions, Japanese Buddhism and Buddhist studies, Heine has published 20 books and dozens of articles in refereed journals. n

Later, Maury returned to

and get stronger.”

who will serve a five-year term.

especially significant as we look

“I am extremely grateful for the

forward to the opening of our

FIU for a second bachelor’s

opportunities FIU gave me, and

College of Medicine.”

degree in accounting, which he

Maury a tour of the campus.

completed in 2002.

Says Maury, “I was in awe. An

I will be eternally grateful and do

The son of Cuban immigrants,

FIU’s Board of Trustees is

Earlier this year, Maidique gave

immense amount of progress has

whatever I can to assist

Maury was like many FIU

the university.”

students when he attended

charged with setting policy,

the College of Business

implementing educational

in the development of the new

Administration. He and his wife,

programs and ensuring the

even greater potential for the

College of Medicine, Maury brings

Silvia, had three small children

university meets state standards.

future. Among the priorities now

to the board more than a decade

at home. He had a full-time job.

Increasingly, the board is facing

should be reaching out to FIU’s

of experience in health care.

He needed affordable tuition

tough decisions as state funding

110,000 alumni, he says.

and a flexible class schedule.

fails to keep pace with enrollment

be invaluable to a university

FIU gave him both. Or, as

growth. Such periods of belt

in as many events as they can,”

with FIU’s characteristics and

he puts it, “an outstanding

tightening are part of doing

he said. “There are many different

scope,” said FIU President

education at a decent price.”

business, says Maury.

ways they can give back: time,

As FIU makes critical choices

“Albert’s credentials will

Modesto A. Maidique. “His

“The university understood the

“These are difficult and

been made.” And still, Maury says he sees

“Alumni should be participating

money and school spirit. They

appointment and his experience

needs of the students and it still

exciting times,” he said. “We will

should take pride in where they

in the health care industry are

does today,” he said.

work through it. We will survive

came from.” n


Florida International University Magazine

FALL 2007



MS ’96

Photo by Ivan Santiago

FALL 2007 Florida International University Magazine


alumni profile World traveler comes home to inspire Miami’s youth By Christina Bohnstengel

which was founded by Frances Henderson in 1967 and later named Alison Austin-Bruyning MS ’96 Back in in honor of singer and actor Harry entered the all-purpose room at Miami, Belafonte’s generous support. Belafonte TACOLCY Center in But Austin’s career adventures Miami’s Liberty City. Try as they Austinactually started with worldwide travels might, TACOLCY’s high school Bruyning in ecotourism. With a father who students in charge of the room could worked for the airlines, and a mother not calm the rambunctious group of realized who worked as a teacher, the family energetic tots. With James Earl Jones that her spent every summer globetrotting. She command, Austin took control: “If you community explained, “I got bit very early by the can hear me, clap one time.” A smattering of claps filled the room. needed her travel bug.” A hometown girl, through and Without raising her voice, Austin sustainable through, Austin attended a Liberty called again, “If you can hear me, clap development City preschool in a building that two times.” now serves as the community center The room fell silent except for expertise in Liberty City’s housing projects. the sound of hundreds of tiny hands as much, if She then went on to Charles Drew clapping together, in unison two Elementary School, Miami Edison times. It’s a tried-and-true method not more, Middle School and Senior High, of calming little ones that Austin has than the and later earned a master’s degree in mastered. A roomful of elementary places she Hospitality and Tourism Management school-aged children all looked up at her attentively, waiting to see what had helped at FIU. Upon graduation, Austin’s passion would be next on the agenda after abroad. for travel and the environment took being herded indoors to escape one of her to the Eastern Caribbean country Florida’s infamous afternoon storms. of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Austin, 47, has a presence that easily There she became a consultant for commands this kind of attention and the Organization of American States, respect in any room. She carries herself the Western Hemisphere’s principal with the pride that comes from living multilateral organization with 35 a well-planned, purposeful life. She member countries in North America, has worked with prime ministers, Central America, South America and managed international environmental the Caribbean. campaigns and produced television After spending 14 years living and and radio shows. working in places where the rest of Today this Liberty City native and us pay big money to vacation, she married mother of three is the chief returned to her roots. Back in Miami, executive officer of one of Miami’s she realized that her community largest, non-profit youth centers, needed her sustainable development Belafonte TACOLCY Center, Inc., Continues on next page



FALL 2007


expertise as much, if not more, than the places she had helped abroad. she continued with environmental consulting work, while also designing and teaching FIU’s first ecotourism curriculum. she also signed on with the Audubon of Florida where she collaborated with other forwardthinking colleagues to develop community outreach programs aimed at educating minorities about their individual effects on the environment. Eventually this evolved into the youth-centered, Urban Everglades outreach specialists, which trained 150 high schools kids in south Florida ecology. the program encouraged the students to study science, in particular environmental science, in college. And so began the segue of Austin’s two passions: saving the environment and helping the under-privileged youth of Miami. she discovered that Miami’s minority young people had tremendous interest in environmental concerns. However, they had never been exposed to the ideas. this inspired her desire to play a role in educating tomorrow’s leaders. First on the list of combining her passions was a negotiation with the Florida department of transportation to turn a dump site into a community butterfly garden. she was successful in acquiring the land and worked with community homeowners in the transformation of the brown field. today the butterfly garden is flourishing, thanks in part to the efforts of neighborhood kids tending to it every tuesday and thursday mornings. the garden serves as a vibrant educational demonstration site

where Austin teaches children how to get in touch with nature and residents “I have how to beautify their own yards with native plants. worked “My passion for nature and beauty for prime has not gone anywhere, but my other ministers passion is education,” she said. “How and leaders I got to tAColCy was not by my design. I think it was more of divine of nations, intervention.” As CEo of Belafonte tAColCy and today, I Center, she hopes to create a paradigm choose to be shift. “We are cultivating the next right here on generation of leadership by opening 62nd Street.” their minds to what the opportunities are,” she said. — Projects that support this vision include the newest collaboration with Alison Austinstate and local leaders called the Magic Bruyning City Children’s Zone. this pilot program is Number 69 on speaker of the House Marco rubio’s book, 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future, and has been patterned after the highly successful New york initiative, Harlem City Children’s Zone. the Magic City Children’s Zone aims to make the communities in the zone, chiefly liberty City and little Haiti, a safer place for children to live, learn and play. From classes that teach basic parenting skills, to “How to Be” etiquette training for children ages 4 through 12, to the all-boys mentoring program she created called the Zulu Warriors, Austin’s guiding role in the community and in the lives of tAColCy’s children and young adults is undeniable. she does miss the consulting work that took her all over the world, so she makes it a point to visit the exotic places that are close to her heart.

And although she has won numerous awards, including a 2007 induction into Miami-dade College’s Alumni Hall of Fame, she counts the thriving success of the private, primary school that she started in st. vincent and the Grenadines as one of her proudest achievements. she was inspired to create Windsor Primary school more than 16 years ago when she was living and working in st. vincent and the Grenadines and found that quality educational options for her young daughter were limited. Austin knows the impact she can have on the future of liberty City. tAColCy has an after-school program that serves more than 130 students daily, adding up to close to one million families throughout the last 40 years. Her mission at tAColCy is to grow tomorrow’s leaders, and to do that she often shares her own success story with the community. “Essentially I really am from the inner city, but I knew I wanted to see the world,” explained Austin. she wants the tAColCy children to understand, “where I started had nothing to do with where I ended. I have worked for prime ministers and leaders of nations, and today, I choose to be right here on 62nd street. the fact that you grow up here does not mean that this is all there is — unless you choose it. I was blessed to have a quality education, but you also have that same opportunity if you prepare for it.” n Christina Bohnstengel is a freelance writer who lives in Miami, Fla. Her work has appeared on Orbitz. com and in Tallahassee Magazine.


By Dan Grech

TURNING A CORNER With a new director, FIU’s Latin American and Caribbean Center will continue to build on a reputation of excellence



New LACC Director Cristina Eguizábal

Degree: Ph.D. from the University of Paris Sorbonne, 1979, international relations Languages: Spanish, French, English Career: University of Costa Rica, associate professor (1981-1994). FIU visiting professor (1991). Senior Fellow, Center for Peace and Reconciliation at the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress (1991-1994). Ford Foundation program officer (1995-2007) Expertise: U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, security studies, Central American politics On returning to academia: “I don’t consider myself a traditional academic. My profile is unusual. The opportunity at LACC blends different things that are well suited to me, LACC and the university.” On LACC: “LACC has a very big presence in Latin America. It is one of the university centers with the most presence in Latin America. It is a good operation with an interesting combination of geographically based institutions and other projects that are activity based or field based. n

LACC Highlights Here are some of LACC’s accomplishments during the past decade. Speakers hosted at FIU: • Colombian President Alvaro Uribe • Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres • Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo • Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide • Chilean President Eduardo Frei • Nobel Prize winner Oscar Arias from Costa Rica Major Publications • “The Conflict in Colombia,” Edited by Carl Cira and Eduardo A. Gamarra, Summit of the Americas Center, 2001. • “Cuban National Reconciliation: Task Force on Memory, Truth, and Justice,” LACC, Task Force coordinator, professor Marifeli PérezStable, 2003. • Hemispheres, LACC’s twice-yearly magazine featuring articles and photographs from academics and graduate students. • Journal of Latin American Anthropology, the official journal of the American Anthropological Association, edited by FIU professor Jean Muteba Rahier with LACC financial support. Public Outreach • Created and maintained the official website of the 1994 Summit of the Americas, held in Miami.


Today, LACC’s alumni work around the world as journalists, analysts, policymakers, foreign service officers and scholars.

his month, FIU’s flagship international studies program, the Latin American and Caribbean Center, will get a new director: respected political scientist Cristina Eguizábal of the Ford Foundation. She will be only the third director in LACC’s distinguished 28-year history. LACC today boasts one of the world’s largest concentrations of Latin Americanists, with 175 affiliated professors and administrators. It hosts presidents, dignitaries, human-rights crusaders and researchers from around the world. Its renowned scholars lend a clear voice to the debates that roil the hemisphere. Underlying LACC’s programs and research is a vision for the center as an integral part of Miami’s diverse, politically charged community. LACC, says outgoing director Eduardo Gamarra, is a place where all sides can voice their views no matter how unpopular. Maintaining this openness and balance remains one of the center’s biggest challenges. “LACC has a major responsibility to the inter-American community that is Miami,” he said. “I sought to bring LACC to Miami, not as an ivory tower with theoretical answers to the complex problems of the world, but with practical answers.” At the same time, LACC has built a strong reputation in the Americas, one that Eguizábal says attracted her to the director’s position. Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, LACC has provided faculty expertise and training in such areas as language acquisition, democracy, development and security. ***

While LACC has thrived, it has come of age in an era of tightened funding for Florida higher education, creating a continual struggle for dollars to support its growth. In response to this ongoing challenge, LACC has formed strong partnerships with organizations and businesses throughout the community. Two years back, Gamarra was struggling with yet another round of painful budget cuts. He sat down to write a memo to his higher ups. Gamarra, an internationally recognized expert on the Andean region of South America, had run LACC for more than a decade, and he had taken the center to new heights. Under his leadership, LACC had added a rigorous master’s degree program that today has graduated 82 students and currently enrolls 36 graduate students and 400 more certificate students. He helped set up the nation’s only institutes dedicated to international professional services and to Colombian studies. And he added the Summit of the Americas Center, a think tank to study economic and political integration in the hemisphere. But continued budget cuts imposed on FIU by the state and routine faculty turnover had begun to take their toll. In 2005, Gamarra felt it was time to ring the alarm. While the center continued to attract students, he wrote in a memo, faculty growth was not keeping up. He feared LACC could lose its coveted status as a federal Title VI National Resource Center, a U.S. Department of Education designation that bestows enormous prestige, significant funding and the concentrated scrutiny of the federal government to only the most competitive area studies programs in the nation.

FALL 2007 Florida International University Magazine

Gamarra’s memo was addressed to Mark Rosenberg, then-provost of FIU. Rosenberg understood what was at stake. He helped found LACC in 1979, he served as its director for 15 years, and he hand-picked Gamarra to replace him in 1994. “It was a supreme irony,” said Rosenberg, now the chancellor of the State University System. “I was the chief academic officer at the time, and I had to administer cutbacks on a program that I’d developed over two decades.” Rosenberg was in the process of expanding FIU’s international focus to Asia and the Middle East, and that put a strain on LACC’s resources. Rosenberg encouraged Gamarra to find new funding sources to reduce the center’s dependence on the state. “Gamarra did a good job of dodging the bullets,” Rosenberg said. “He found alternative resources.” Gamarra partnered LACC with the Beacon Council and Enterprise Florida, two local business development groups. He solicited free travel vouchers from American Airlines and TAM Brazilian airlines to support LACC’s faculty, students and extensive public lectures, conferences and forums, which routinely attract audiences of hundreds from South Florida. He convinced Hewlett Packard to donate computers for LACC graduate students. All the while, Gamarra and his staff strengthened LACC’s existing programs. The Cuban Research Institute remains the nation’s largest nucleus of Cuba experts, and LACC hosted the 25th Annual Journalists and Editors Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean in May. LACC trains local school teachers,

it showcases musicians, dancers and artists from the region, and it supports study-abroad programs to Argentina, Brazil, Haiti, Bolivia, Ecuador and Mexico. “Budget cuts force much more collaboration across different departments in the university, as well as between the university and other organizations in the larger South Florida community,” said Liesl Picard, LACC’s associate director. “You just have to be much more creative.” *** In 2006, LACC again won Title VI recognition, even as prestigious sister institutions around the country lost the designation. Today, LACC’s alumni work around the world as journalists, analysts, policy-makers, foreign service officers and scholars. Others, like student Shanti Salas, plan to stay in Miami. He now works at the Latin America office of Kroll, a leading risk consulting company. “I really took advantage of the connections I made through LACC,” Salas said. “LACC is very well positioned, being in Miami. This is the best jumping off point for research on Latin America, hands down. And it opens your eyes to the bigger world out there in the private sector.” After 13 years running LACC, Gamarra was ready to step down as director. He wanted to return full time to his abiding passions: the classroom and his scholarship. “I believe in term limits. These aren’t perennial positions,” Gamarra said. “I’ve been teaching institution building in Latin America for so many years; I felt it was time to follow my own


advice. I found LACC in a good place, I took it to another level, it was time to move on.” This summer, after an international “I am search, FIU selected Eguizábal as optimistic LACC’s new director. Eguizábal, a Salvadoran born in Argentina, was about the hired from the Ford Foundation, possibility where she had run its programs in Mexico and Central America for of finding 12 years. solutions to “We are very excited to be getting a the problems new director with Cristina’s outstanding of insecurity qualifications and knowledge of the Americas,” said Douglas Kincaid, and poverty vice provost for international studies. “And for the university to make this in the commitment in a period of austerity Americas.” is a major endorsement of LACC’s — continued prominence.” Eguizábal will be LACC’s first Cristina Eguizábal, director hired from outside the LACC ranks of FIU. She says her range of Director experience and contacts in the region will allow her to push LACC to another level of excellence. “I would like to be more involved in the implementation of programs that combine knowledge, policy and civic action,” she said. “I am optimistic about the possibility of finding solutions to the problems of insecurity and poverty in the Americas.” She plans to promote research in Brazil and Mexico, the two largest economies in Latin America. She also wants to create exchange programs with universities in Latin America. Her first priority, however, will be to outline a five-year plan for LACC’s future. n Dan Grech is the Americas correspondent for Marketplace, the public radio business news show produced by American Public Media. He teaches writing at the Florida Center for the Literary Arts.


Florida International University Magazine

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By Bryan Gilmer

Julio Sáenz ’94 had been running his own bilingual newspaper for Hispanic residents of Rochester, N.Y., for two years when he got a telephone call: Gannett, the $12-billion company that owns the local Englishlanguage daily, the Democrat and Chronicle, wanted to meet with him. “They said it was to talk about how we could work together,” said Sáenz, who was then working full-time for a community housing agency and producing the monthly newspaper, ConXion on nights and weekends. “When I got to the publisher’s office, it seemed like they had every issue that had ever come out. Gannett had been watching the paper for a while.” The largest newspaper publisher in the United States with 85 dailies, including USA Today, wanted to buy ConXion. “I was stunned,” Sáenz recalls. He agreed to sell. He won’t reveal the price. (“I wasn’t buying my

Photo provided by Julio Saenz

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alumni profile

One to Watch

Alumnus establishes himself as a leader in bilingual media

own island in the Bahamas, but it was good.”) Saenz also saw it as an opportunity to take his career to another level with Gannett. The company gave him a full-time job running the newspaper. That was in 2005. Now Sáenz, 37, has left to accept an even better offer: To run Excélsior, a Spanish-language weekly with 180,000 readers south of Los Angeles owned by the Orange County Register. PRESSTIME, an industry magazine published by the Newspaper Association of America, has named Sáenz one of its “20 under 40,” an honor for high achievers who set an example for others. At a time when American newspapers are shrinking – burdened with the high costs of producing and distributing a physical product and competing with the Internet, broadcast media and entertainment for readers’ attention and advertisers’ dollars – Sáenz hit the industry’s sweet spot. “Sáenz exemplifies the innovative thinking today’s newspapers need as they struggle to stay relevant to loyal readers and to attract new audiences such as the growing Latino population,” said Rebecca Ross Albers, PRESSTIME’s editor. Indeed, while the population of Rochester had been shrinking, the number of Hispanic residents had jumped by two-thirds in a decade. Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and lately, Mexicans, had settled in

upstate New York by the tens of thousands. And, as Sáenz often pitched prospective advertisers, a growing number of those families are middle class, with plenty of disposable income. Sáenz knows firsthand. He was born in New York and then moved with his family back to their native Costa Rica as an infant. When he was 4, they moved back to the United States. “Even though I was born in the U.S., I kind of had the immigrant experience,” Sáenz says. He majored in international relations at FIU, then returned to New York to take the non-profit housing job. When he couldn’t find a publication to spend grant money allocated for advertising to Hispanic families, he saw a business opportunity. He had minored in communications and worked on The Beacon at FIU. He started ConXion. “Originally, I wanted to start it as a [volunteer] community effort,” he said. “But I realized, you can’t count on goodwill forever. The only way to make the paper last for the long haul was to make it stand on its own two feet, make it a business.” The paper focused on local Hispanic cultural events, sports such as soccer and baseball and issues such as whether Puerto Rico should become the 51st state. The newspaper featured ads from realtors proclaiming, “Hablamos español,” and from Rochester General Hospital

touting its cardiology department and from the local power company “What really explaining how it restores power gets me after an outage. In Southern California, Sáenz’s up in the challenge is a little different. morning…is For one thing, Excélsior is more that most established and has a strong online presence – it draws national Hispanic advertisers such as Macy’s, Home media is very Depot, Lowe’s and Wal-Mart, poor quality, “advertisers I could only dream of getting in New York.” an almost Mexican immigrants dominate insulting a local Hispanic community of more than 1 million people, and quality.” Sáenz says the paper must provide — news items specific to several Julio Saenz Mexican states. He also caters to readers from Central America. “I would like to grow this newspaper, really double its size,” he says. But if Sáenz comes off like a driven businessperson, that’s just the entrepreneurial part of him talking. It’s his heart that drives him to bring quality news and information to people who haven’t been getting it: “What really gets me up in the morning, I think – the overriding thing that drives me – is that most Hispanic media is very poor quality, an almost insulting quality. Everything is pitched to you like you’re a 4-year-old. I want to really raise that bar in the industry.” n Bryan Gilmer is a freelance writer based in Durham, N.C.


Florida International University Magazine

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By Sue Arrowsmith ’06

Left: Kevin Sylvester ’03 Right: Wilner Baptiste

Photo by Angel Valentin

Standing before hundreds of judging eyes at the legendary Apollo Theater, Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester ’03 and Wilner B. “Simply Sick” Baptiste prepared to woo the crowd with renditions of popular songs by Michael Jackson, Usher and Biggie Smalls. The audience was buzzing. Still, the performers kept thinking, “They’re gonna boo us.” No one booed. In fact, the crowd loved the duo, better known as rising group Black Violin, which has been igniting fans with their unique fusion of two divergent genres of music: classical and hip-hop. With their baseball caps on sideways, the two FIU alumni seamlessly blend bass beats with the sophisticated tug of Sylvester’s violin and Baptiste’s viola to create music that a teen could listen to with his grandparents. “We’re actually rapping with our instruments,” said Sylvester, born and raised in Fort Lauderdale. “I’ll come up with a beat and Wil finds a concept for it, or vice versa.” After 10 days in New York City and three nerve-wracking shows, the two classically trained musicians took home the 2005 Apollo Theater Legend title and a $20,000 prize. They join Apollo Legends such as Billie Holiday, James Brown and Lauryn Hill. “It felt like we belonged there,” said Sylvester, who remembers their cell phones ringing off the hook as soon as they left the stage. Black Violin is awing listeners everywhere they go and capturing the attention of some of music’s hottest acts. They have performed with Grammy-winning artists Alicia Keyes, Kanye West and John Legend, among

FALL 2007 Florida International University Magazine


alumni profile Classically trained musicians shake up the world of hip-hop with their unique sound other chart-toppers. “At the turn of the last century, African-Americans were told they didn’t have what it takes to play cornet, trumpet and sax – they could only play drums and dance. Now, two young black men are playing jazz, classical and hip-hop on a violin and viola? That may very well represent the last black instrumental hurdle,” said Michael Koretzky, managing editor for JAZZIZ Magazine. At first, it wasn’t easy trying to sell their concept. When South Florida club owners learned their act consisted of two young black men playing a violin and a viola, they slowly backed away. But once they heard the music, they were sold.

The pair went on to join the music Black program at Dillard Center for the Arts. During class breaks, they played along Violin has to hip-hop tunes with their classical instruments for fun. performed “It didn’t feel like you were playing an elitist instrument,” said Sylvester, with remembering his days at Dillard, where most of the student population Alicia Keyes, was black. Kanye West Sylvester won a full scholarship to FIU, where he earned a bachelor’s and degree in musical performance and viola in 2003. It was a great John Legend, opportunity to play alongside accomplished professional musicians. among other Baptiste earned a scholarship to Florida State University but later charttransferred to FIU, where he studied musical performance. toppers. School paves the way “FIU has the best music faculty right From elementary to college, each of at home,” said Sylvester. “Chauncey the 25-year-olds credits much of their Patterson, who played with the Miami success to the support of family, great String Quartet, was a great mentor.” music teachers and staff who encouraged Patterson introduced the budding them to excel along the way. musicians to the sounds of Stuff Smith, It was Sylvester’s mother, Veronica, renowned jazz violinist. Smith’s last who urged him to pick up the violin at album, titled “Black Violin,” inspired age 9 as a way to keep her son off the the duo to take on the stage name. streets. He describes his first encounter with the string instrument as “love at It all comes together first sight.” At FIU, Sylvester and Baptiste found A janitor at Parkway Middle School, Samuel A. Gbadebo, a marketing where the two friends met, shared with major, drumming on a table in one Baptiste his past experience playing the of the dorm halls. They whipped saxophone and inspired him to join out their instruments and began a summer music program at school. improvising. The then-14-year-old had hopes of Gbadebo, or “Sam G,” became their mastering the brass instrument, but manager. The three friends formed a he was accidentally placed in a strings band and production company called class. He was a natural. DKNEX, which stands for Di-Versitile “After two weeks, I was put in Music, and have played more than an advanced class,” said Baptiste. 100 weddings and private parties in “Classical music changed for me at matching tuxedos. that point.” Together with DJTK, the Miami

DJ known as “Lethal Weapon,” they have played in more than 10 countries, performed with Diddy at this year’s NFL kick-off party and finished a tour with rockers Linkin Park. The highlight of this year, though, will be the release of their self-titled debut album in the fall. For the past 15 months, the pair has been hunkered down in Juan Losada’s stateof-the-art home studio in Kendall, the place where Black Violin concocts its unique sound. They hope the album will show the true essence of black music from Motown to hip-hop. “The album captures black music from a violinist’s perspective, cataloging everything that shows our influences,” said Sylvester. In spite of their sudden fame, Sylvester and Baptiste have not strayed far from their humble beginnings. Last year they founded a non-profit to help save music programs in public schools across the country, where they perform and talk with students. “We want to open their eyes, so these kids can see that there is more out there than their surroundings,” said Sylvester. At the Kendall studio, Losada tweaks the knobs on his soundboard adding the finishing touches to the album. Sylvester smiles easily, bobbing his head and exchanging satisfied looks with his childhood friend. After 16 years in the making, the members of Black Violin have found their niche, and with it, the opportunity to cut across racial and cultural lines. Visit their website at www. for album previews and upcoming shows. n


Florida International University Magazine

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Scientists at the FIU International Hurricane Research Center develop technology to help us build homes that can withstand nature’s worst fury By Aimee Dingwell

Most opportunities to assess hurricane damage occur after the storm passes. Unlucky homeowners are left to search the debris and destruction in hopes of salvaging any remaining belongings. For hurricane researchers, the aim is to salvage clues that will help answer how, where and when the structure failed. However, surveying the chaotic aftermath often sheds little light on such answers, which are crucial to mitigating hurricane-induced economic and property loss, saving lives and stabilizing property insurance rates. But what if there were no catastrophic aftermath? What if roofs didn’t collapse, walls never crumbled and windows couldn’t shatter? What if homes and buildings could be built to withstand a Category 1, 2 or 3 hurricane without major damage? Such possibilities may sound implausible for the state that has weathered billions of dollars of devastation from monster storms like Andrew, Katrina and Wilma. However, researchers at FIU’s International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC) say this is the future. FIU scientists

FALL 2007 Florida International University Magazine

and engineers are carving a national reputation in the field of hurricane research by focusing on mitigation, specifically, developing the technology and strategies to prevent property damage and keep people safe when hurricanes strike. “Our goal is to learn how to build houses that sustain little to no damage from Category 1 to 3 hurricanes, which make up most of the problem,” said professor Stephen Leatherman, director of the IHRC. In July, the IHRC received nearly $18 million in state funding, allowing the Center to forge ahead with plans to build a state-of-the-art hurricane operations center to house its four laboratories and advance two key research projects - the FIU Wall of Wind (WOW) and the Public Hurricane Loss Projection Model - both of which are revolutionizing the way hurricane research is conducted today. Odds are slim that another Category 5 hurricane will hit South Florida – only three have made landfall in the U.S. since 1851 – but the last two hurricane seasons have

proved that smaller storms can still pack a mighty punch. National hurricane losses surpassed the $100 billion mark in 2005, and have averaged about $36 billion per year during the last five years. The high stakes for the state of Florida – lives ruined, communities destroyed and economies disrupted – have placed hurricanes at the top of FIU’s research agenda. With a multidisciplinary approach that emphasizes prevention, community preparedness, mitigation and policy, the university is emerging as a leader in hurricane mitgation research. Along with the Wall of Wind and the hurricane loss model, researchers at IHRC have projects underway examining beach erosion, the social impact of natural disasters, as well as new storm surge modeling technologies being developed by the IHRC’s Laboratory for Coastal Research. All of the projects will be housed in the new $15 million IHRC headquarters, giving researchers a 24-7 base of operations when natural disasters strike and the FIU campus is hunkered down.

Researchers are carving a national reputation in the field of hurricane research by developing the technology and strategies to prevent property damage and keep people safe when hurricanes strike.


Creating resilient communities Hurricanes clearly wreak physical havoc, but they also have major social implications. The IHRC’s Laboratory for Social Science Research focuses on the effects of hurricanes at the community level. Identifying barriers to hurricane preparedness to prevent loss of life and property is a major research focus of the lab, according to Director Dario Moreno, who is also director of FIU’s Metropolitan Center. The recent state funding provides $400,000 for ongoing mitigation research, of which $125,000 will be used to continue pre- and posthurricane season surveys of residents, businesses, and local officials and assessments of the hurricane preparedness level of vulnerable populations, such as seniors and low-income residents. Through the lab, coastal resource economists, political scientists and sociologists come together to give policymakers, emergency managers and responders better information to improve the resiliency of communities. Continues on next page


Florida International University Magazine


FIU wins designation as “disaster resistant”

Both FIU campuses willsoon be able to breathe easier in future storm seasons. In July, FIU received the sought-after Disaster Resistant University designation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The designation, which required a prevention plan to minimize risks to students, employees and millions of dollars of equipment and data, means FIU is eligible to apply for up to $3 million in federal funds for each mitigation project it undertakes. The designation makes FIU the first public university in Florida, and just one of 28 universities nationwide, to meet federal disaster plan requirements. “In the last 15 years since Hurricane Andrew, we have been at the forefront of hurricane mitigation,” FIU President Modesto Maidique said. “Approval of our plan is not only an important step, but it is a vote of confidence from federal officials.”

When this WOW is triggered, it will literally blow the house down.

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Evaluating ultimate destruction But the ultimate WOW can now become a reality with the $2 million in new state dollars. Tentatively designed to have 24 fans, the new WOW will be capable of simulating a Category 5 hurricane, with more than 155 mph winds. This fall, the Center plans to conduct research necessary to determine the number of fans required to generate such wind speeds. Manufacturing such brute force is no small feat, even for nature. But the WOW’s key advance will be its ability to overcome current research limitations of size and scale, making Stephen Leatherman it first-of-a-kind. In short, the new Resiliency is also key for IHRC’s WOW will be full scale. While Laboratory for Wind Engineering academic, governmental and private Research, only this lab is not waiting institutions have all attempted scaled, for Mother Nature. Creating model testing, no facility in the controlled, repeatable destruction United States is capable of subjecting on demand is the premise behind full-scale buildings and their the Wall of Wind technology, which components to simulated hurricanes utilizes industrial fans powered to the point of destruction. by racecar engines to measure the When this WOW is triggered, effects of hurricane-force wind fields it will literally blow the house on various building materials and down. And there’s no shortage of construction methods. housing to test. “We have more To date, the IHRC has successfully than 60 companies, including 3M, tested a two-fan WOW prototype lined up to conduct testing of their capable of simulating Category 3 products, which we will install in hurricanes with rain and winds up our model houses to see how they to 115 mph. More recently, the perform under controlled, repeatable six-fan WOW debuted, powered by conditions,” Leatherman said. 502 horsepower Chevrolet ZZ502 The facility will be able to test racecar engines and packing 130 multiple building materials and types, mph wind fields (nearly Category 4 including two-story residential structures hurricane), complete with rain and up to 2,000 square feet. A crane will flying debris. place the houses on a “turn-table” to Continues on next page

FALL 2007 Florida International University Magazine


The Wall of Wind Engineers and wind scientists at the International Hurricane Research Center are using the Wall of Wind to improve building construction standards and materials. This research involves subjecting structures to simulated hurricane wind speeds generated by the WOW in a controlled setting. Here’s a sample of what we are learning from the WOW in order to make our homes and commercial buildings more hurricane resistant.

Illustrations by Christopher Short

Roof-to-wall connection testing During a hurricane, the roof of a building bears a heavy load from the wind. That load is transferred to the trusses, into the walls and down to the foundation. Most homes are fortified with devices such as roof straps to help offset that load. However, there might be better ways to strengthen roof-to-wall connections, using Fiber Reinforced Polymers. With a new grant from the National Science Foundation, engineers are testing the use of sheets of FRP that have high tensile strength and flexibility. The sheets are wrapped around and securely bonded to roof-towall joints, creating a hardened connection that is more effective than straps and nails.

Roof tile testing In these tests, engineers hit barrel tile roofs with wind speeds up to 125 mph. In most cases, the tiles, which are commonly found on South Florida rooftops, fail, creating a domino effect. One tile flies off and the rest follow. Engineers are exploring whether tiles in different shapes have better resistance. They are also exploring how to best retrofit homes whose tiles do not meet current codes.

Rooftop equipment testing

Roof fascia testing A sheet of metal called fascia is used to secure the roof of most flat-top commercial buildings. At Category 3 wind speeds, most roof fascia fail. Wind gets under them, water gets in and the roof falls apart. Engineers are testing fascia at high wind speeds to see how they fail. The tests have shown that the use of interlocking clips on the fascia help prevent wind from getting in.

Many commercial buildings have air conditioning units mounted on their roofs. If this equipment is ripped off the roof during a storm, it causes extensive damage to the building and to surrounding properties as flying debris. Engineers have subjected the roofmounted AC units to wind speeds up to 125 miles per hour and found that the addition of a simple metal screen can significantly reduce the likelihood of the unit separating.


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better simulate hurricane conditions. Protected from the destruction by bulletproof glass, researchers will now be able to analyze the storms as they happen, not after, with full instrumentation and high-speed cameras. Indeed, just as the once-novel, full-scale car crash testing became the standard for safety testing in the automobile industry, so too can the full-scale WOW transform the building industry. In fact, Leatherman recruited Brian O’Neill, a pioneer of automobile crash testing and former president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and Dr. Emil Simiu, a nationally recognized wind engineering expert and Federal Engineer of the Year from the National Society of Professional Engineers, to join IHRC’s Wind Engineering team. Like car-crash simulation technology, the facility will use high-speed videography and lighting to measure the destruction down to 1/1000th of a second. And while automakers typically redesign their cars about every four to six years, O’Neill said, changes in building practices can be implemented very soon after the testing identifies weaknesses. “This means that the WOW has the potential to produce improvements in housing designs even faster than we achieved with our consumer crash tests,” O’Neill said.

Just as the once-novel, full-scale car crash testing became the standard for safety testing in the automobile industry, so, too, can the fullscale WOW transform the building industry.

Building stronger homes In partnership with governmental agencies and commercial entities, and with direction from experts, data gathered from the WOW testing will be used to develop new products, standards, and building codes, including products to retrofit houses. “Being a full-scale destructive testing facility, the Wall of Wind has immense potential for developing retrofit techniques for hurricane damage mitigation,” said civil engineering professor Arindam Chowdhury, director of IHRC’s Wind Engineering Laboratory. So far, the WOW has been used to validate aerodynamic products to alleviate uplift forces on roof edges and corners. Such forces, Chowdhury says, are responsible for the initiation of damage, leading to roof failure, water infiltration, mold growth, dry wall saturation and damage of building contents. Through WOW research, the laboratory has also designed wind screens to reduce wind loads and prevent failure of roof-top equipment during hurricanes. Other projects include developing watertight soffits and a novel, non-intrusive roof-towall connection system using fiberreinforced polymers instead of metal connections. Such advances can not only potentially save lives, but greatly reduce the billions of dollars in damage, and in turn, stabilize the property insurance crisis in South

Florida. “The Wall of Wind is what is needed to turn things around, making insurance affordable and available and hence maintaining our economy,” Leatherman said. “Providing the knowledge necessary to learn how things break and how to build stronger is the key to the insurance problem.” Projecting dollar losses What is also needed, according to many in the industry, is a clearer way to understand how losses are estimated. FIU has responded with another first – the Public Hurricane Loss Projection Model developed by IHRC’s Laboratory for Insurance, Financial and Economic Research under the direction of Dr. Shahid Hamid. In September, the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology certified the model, making it the first transparent public model for forecasting future storms and projecting insured residential losses in Florida. Insurance companies use these loss, or catastrophe, models to request rate increases. However, to date, loss model methodologies have been kept private, making it difficult for regulators and government officials to evaluate requests for rate increases and for homeowners to understand what is behind their rate increase. The FIU model comprises information from past hurricanes; vulnerability of various building types in multiple regions in the state; and the


actual insured losses, including the cost of materials, labor, and equipment and additional living expenses. For example, the model could calculate the estimated loss for a concrete block home in south Florida with a gable roof, no hurricane shutters, subjected to a 140 mph, three-second wind gust at an angle of 45 degrees. the state can use this model to check the rates proposed by private insurance companies. the value of transparency has not been overlooked; the public loss model has been funded by the Florida department of Financial services as initially spearheaded by U.s. senator Bill Nelson. Future versions of the model will expand to include commercial properties. In addition, other states are now interested in using the model, according to leatherman. Collectively, the International Hurricane research Center, its labs and their respective projects are all part of a real and long-term goal to forever change the power hurricanes have to alter our lives, our economy and our built and natural environments. through creating, and recreating the perfect storm, the days of sifting through a hurricane’s devastating aftermath of failed roofs, crumbled walls and shattered windows will become things of the past. n Aimee Dingwell is a freelance writer based in Miami.



Aspiring meteorologists can now do their undergraduate studies at Florida International University. In the fall of 2006, FIU’s Department of Earth Sciences launched a new undergraduate geosciences track called atmospheric sciences. As part of the program, students can take cool classes such as “Severe Weather” and “Natural Disasters.” Professor Hugh Willoughby, an internationally recognized meteorologist who spent 27 years at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, teaches a course called, “Hurricanes.” Willoughby is uniquely qualified to teach students about one of nature’s most fearsome phenomena. He has flown into the eyes of hurricanes or typhoons more than 400 times. FIU Magazine Editor Deborah O’Neil chatted with Willoughby recently about hurricanes, weather and meteorologists.


Each lecture is half science and half history. If you are going to be a hurricane geek, you’ve got to know the big nasty hurricanes.


YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE FIELD? One of the most important things to pass on is the beauty of the weather and its changes.


RIGHT INTO THE WORST STORMS. DO YOU HAVE TO BE A BIT OF A DAREDEVIL TO ENJOY THIS WORK? It’s always a thrill, but if you’re doing it right, it’s a little more cerebral. Weather is beautiful. There were times I would be amazed that this was what I did for a living.


SOMEONE WITH A METEOROLOGY EDUCATION? Lots of students want to go into broadcasting. I tell them, always have a Plan B. There are a lot of places where meteorological expertise is important, such as managing and regulating insurance, airlines, the oil industry, shipping, agriculture. From agriculture, you go to futures, the financial markets, commodities. If you are Campbell Soup Company, you are in those markets to hedge against the weather.


METEOROLOGISTS TO GET IT RIGHT? They really like to get it right. But the guy who invented chaos theory was a meteorologist at MIT.

An unevenly heated rotating mass of fluid is the essence of chaos, so forecasts will be wrong.


The way the science is going is to predict the impact. We want to be able to say to emergency managers, “The predicted landfall is tomorrow and by sunset your probability of 100-hour winds is 23 percent. The storm surge in your community is going to be less than nine feet.”



EVOLVE IN THE FUTURE? We want to emphasize the application of meteorology. Wind engineering – designing houses that don’t blow over in hurricanes. I’m interested in helping people in the social sciences get a meteorology background so they can worry about the psychology of who evacuates and who doesn’t, economic impacts. The experience of a hurricane is a lot different if you’re a single mom working at McDonalds compared to an upper-middle class college professor. The wind is only part of the disaster for people on the margins.


FIU’S HURRICANE RESEARCH? What I would hope in the future is that FIU will become a center of engineering and social science and urban planning around hurricanes.



Florida International University Magazine

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Making the tough calls New Athletic Director Pete Garcia ushers in an era of change for coaches and student-athletes By Jamal Thalji

Pete Garcia doesn’t sleep on things. He won’t put off the tough call. He won’t just bite his tongue to see if things will somehow get better. That’s not what Florida International University’s new athletic director is all about. He wasn’t brought in last October to hope for the best. Garcia, 45, was brought aboard to make all the hard decisions necessary to revitalize the athletic program on the field and in the classroom. “I was hired here with a mandate of evaluating everything,” Garcia said. “That’s systems to operations to people, everything that we’re doing.” He didn’t wait long to start doing just that. That has meant dramatic, and at times, wrenching change. Gone during Garcia’s brief tenure is football coach Don Strock, women’s soccer coach Everton Edwards, softball coach Kim Gwydir and two longtime coaching veterans, baseball coach Danny Price and men’s soccer coach Karl Kremser. It’s not change for change’s sake, the athletic director said, but changes that he decided had to be made. “When you decide to go in a different direction,” Garcia said, “you go in a different direction.” Especially where academics are concerned. Some FIU teams

Garcia didn’t wait long to start evaluating programs. That has meant dramatic and, at times, wrenching change.

fell short of graduation rates mandated by the NCAA, costing the university scholarships. Thus, under Garcia, the athletic department is adding more advisors, tutors and computers to the academic support program for studentathletes, and is hiring more compliance officers to ensure compliance with the NCAA’s many rules. “We have graduation rate issues, we have some compliance issues,” Garcia said. “Those are issues across the board that have to be fixed. “Our first priority is to be able to graduate our studentathletes, and if we can’t do that then we have no business going to step two.” That’s winning, something the Golden Panthers didn’t do often enough last season. The football team went 0-12, one of just two winless Division I programs. The baseball team went 26-29 and hasn’t seen an NCAA Regional since 2002. The softball squad set a school record for fewest wins, going 22-35. Women’s soccer went 5-12. Even the school’s most successful program, men’s soccer, was just 6-10-2. To turn those fortunes around, Garcia has brought in a slew of new faces (side bar). Arizona State assistant Henry “Turtle” Thomas took over the baseball team and

the University of Houston’s Beth McClendon took over the softball squad. Mario Cristobal, a former offensive line coach at UM, embodies the qualities Garcia sought in all his new hires. “No. 1 he knows the game, No. 2 he’s a relentless worker, No. 3 he’s an exceptional recruiter,” Garcia said. “Basically that’s the blueprint of everybody we’ve hired. They’re all people who know their sports. They’re terrific recruiters. They’re workaholics.” If Garcia has been toughminded in vetting his coaches, so, too, has he been tough with his student-athletes. Last October is a good example, when Garcia came on board within days of the infamous Miami-FIU brawl. FIU suspended 18 players after a fight-marred 35-0 loss. Born in Havana, Garcia’s family came to Miami in 1967. He graduated from Hialeah High School and UM before he talked his way into a job with Don Shula’s Miami Dolphins in 1989.The next year Garcia was working for the University of Miami’s football program and in 1992 became the recruiting coordinator. Football Head Coach Butch Davis and Garcia moved to the Cleveland Browns in 2001, with Garcia as the franchise’s director of football operations.



In 2003, Garcia became the Vice President of Player Personnel and Football Development. Garcia returned to UM in 2005 as the senior associate athletic director for external operations, handling ticket sales, marketing and corporate sponsors like Nike and Coca-Cola. It’s no wonder then that he talks like a CEO focused on the bottom-line – a collegiate bottomline: “Our job is to make sure that, No. 1, the student-athletes we recruit are true student-athletes in both senses of the word; No. 2 that we have the proper resources to make sure they are successful, that they can win in the classroom and on the field; and No. 3 that we get them ready for life after college.” The management philosophy that is reshaping Golden Panthers’ athletics is one Garcia honed with the struggling Cleveland Browns. “One of the lessons that I learned from the Cleveland Browns is that the evaluation process begins immediately,” he said. “You can’t say the time is not right. You have to be constantly evaluating, and if something isn’t working right you cannot afford, either at the pro or college level, to sit around when something is not working.” n Jamal Thalji is a journalist based in Tampa.




An experienced coach and athlete, Eric Campbell is the new head coach of the cross country and track and field programs. Campbell came to FIU as a volunteer assistant in 2005 and became a full-time assistant in 2006. Under his tutelage, FIU’s Donita Harmon won three 2006 Sun Belt Conference titles and current program senior Naim Yisrael earned All-America honors.

Named the second head coach in the university’s brief football history, Mario Cristobal came to FIU after successful tenures at Miami and Rutgers where he has recruited and coached some of the best talent in the country. Cristobal has promised Golden Panthers “are gonna find a way to win” this season.

CARLOS CASELY After five seasons as the top assistant for the extremely successful FIU women’s tennis team, Carlos Casely takes over the reins this season as head coach. Casely was honored with the Outstanding Florida Instructor Award by the USTA and is a certified instructor with the USPTA. He has extensive junior and professional playing and teaching experience. THOMAS CHESTNUTT JR. New women’s soccer head coach Thomas Chestnutt Jr. came to FIU from Fresno State where he served as first assistant since 2004. While at Fresno State, the program improved drastically during Chestnutt’s tenure, earning several trips to the NCAA Tournament.

MUNGA EKETEBI An imposing figure on the FIU men’s soccer sideline for nearly 25 years, Munga Eketebi was named the Golden Panthers’ new men’s soccer head coach earlier this year. Eketebi became the fourth head coach in the 35-year history of the program. BETH MCCLENDON A former University of Florida standout and accomplished collegiate assistant, Beth McClendon recently was named the new FIU softball head coach. McClendon spent the last five seasons at the University of Houston, which made it to the NCAA Tournament twice during her tenure. HENRY “TURTLE” THOMAS New baseball head coach Henry “Turtle” Thomas’ résumé includes some of the most successful programs in recent history, such as Georgia Tech and Miami. Thomas brings more than 30 years of experience, including 14 trips to the College World Series and 18 straight Top 10 recruiting classes, to FIU.


Florida International University Magazine

FALL 2007


A Message from Alumni Association President Will Trueba, Jr., Esq. ’90

Dear FIU Alumni, Family and Friends, At our FIU Alumni Association Board meeting held in October, two interesting, unplanned topics were raised that I wanted to share with the whole FIU community. The first was a phenomena closely tied to our Association’s motto: “Feel the Pride,” a tag line created by Executive Director Bill Draughon. Without prompting, as each person attending the meeting introduced himself or herself, that individual was compelled to provide the number of family members and significant others who also attended FIU. It was amazing to hear the number of FIU alumni associated with each attendee. I am sure that if each alumnus began to count the number of family members, friends and co-workers that he or she knows that also attended FIU, the count would probably be at least a dozen or more. Certainly, the number would constitute a “Pride of Panthers.” As you read this letter, I encourage you to think about that number. Now that the holidays are upon us, you may want to consider purchasing an FIU embroidered shirt, an FIU coffee mug or a life membership in the FIU Alumni Association as a gift! The second interesting topic raised during the meeting focused on positive changes within our FIU boards. The FIU Foundation Board, the entity that plays a critical role in fundraising for our alma mater, now has four alumni who first served on the FIU Alumni Association Board of Directors: Past President of the Alumni Association Gerald Grant ’78, MBA ’89, Justo Pozo ’80, Joe Caruncho ’81 and Michael Mendez ’03. The growth of the number of alumni on the Foundation Board signals the maturation of our institution and greater things to come. Congratulations to new Foundation Board members Justo Pozo ’80 and Michael Mendez ’03. I encourage alumni to stay connected to the university through the FIU Alumni Association. For information on volunteering, serving on a committee or applying to be a board member, please contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 1-800-FIU-ALUM or send an email to In the Spirit of Blue & Gold,

Last college football game in OB: Be there! If you close your eyes, maybe, just maybe, you can still hear the faint echoes of the cheering crowds as you think back to some of the Orange Bowl’s most memorable college football games. The University of Miami and three national football championships. Nebraska. Oklahoma. Notre Dame. Florida State. Boston College. On Saturday, Dec. 1, you’re invited to make one final Orange Bowl memory by experiencing the last college football game that will ever be played there – FIU vs. North Texas. Game time is 7 p.m. but the fun starts long before that with a tailgate party hosted by the Student Government Association. After the game, stick around and enjoy a fireworks show befitting this end of an era. For more details, please visit the FIU website at n

William R. Trueba, Jr.

Panther Sites Angela Chavez , Marcia Strait ’77, Raul Chavez ’80, Barbara Bader and Bill Draughon in Tallin, Estonia When you travel, remember to demonstrate your Panther Pride with an FIU t-shirt, cap, flag or the FIU Magazine and you may appear in Panther Sites. Send your high resolution (300 dpi) photographs with a complete description to

FALL 2007 Florida International University Magazine

Alumni Relations Associate Vice President Bill Draughon (left), tournament committee member Manny Matalon ’01, MACC ’03 and tournament co-chair Jose Perez de Corcho ’93 (right) present scholarships to Meaghan Bradshaw, David Granda, Michael D. Jadoo, and Daniela Ottati.


Feel the Pride Golden Panther gear now available near you

Fishing Tournament reels in Panther Pride

This year’s tournament winners were:

More than 200 alumni, faculty, staff, students, family and friends of the university came together to catch the spirit – and a lot of dolphin – in an effort to lend their support to the FIU Alumni Association Scholarship Fund at the 5th Annual Fishing Tournament on June 17. This year, $8,000 was awarded in scholarships to Sarena Bahad, Meaghan Bradshaw, Vignesh Doraiswany, David Granda, Michael Jadoo, Alejandra Maruri, Arthur Myer and Daniela Ottati. Nineteen-year-old Granda, an information technology major with a minor in business, said he felt “honored and lucky” to have been selected for a scholarship. “I think it’s a great way to reach out into the community and give back to students based on merit,” he said. Although it was a rainy day, the Golden Panthers came out to enjoy a day of fishing, followed by a roaring ceremony with great food, drinks and blue-andgold camaraderie. Attendees tried their luck in a raffle featuring prizes such as a one-year gym membership to Equinox Fitness; American Airlines tickets to anywhere in the 48 continental states, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean or Mexico; spa treatments at Denovo Spa & Facial Services; fishing equipment; and FIU gear.

• Most Aggregate Dolphin Weight: Team Big Blue ($2,500 and Gary Traczyk sculpture) • Largest Dolphin: Team Neo 1 ($1,000 and large fishing trophy) • Largest Ladies Dolphin: Eileen Heffernan of Team Forget About It ($500 and large fishing trophy) • Largest Fun Fish: Team Reel Hard ($250 and medium fishing trophy) • Largest Junior: Nicola Delloca of Team Big Blue ($100 gift certificate to Dave & Busters) • 2nd Place Most Aggregate Dolphin Weight: Team Neo 1 ($500) • 2nd Place Largest Dolphin: Team Miss Brit ($250) • 2nd Place Junior: Tao Manuel Delandaburu of Team Fat Kat Fishing ($50 gift certificate to Dave & Busters)

Teams Big Blue, Forget About It, Miss Brit and Neo 1 gave back their prize money to the Scholarship Fund. Once again, TotalBank presented the event. Other sponsors included Deloitte, GEICO and Oceania Cruises. If you are interested in participating or sponsoring the 2008 FIU Alumni Association Fishing Tournament, call 305-348-3334. n

Alumni can now find a great variety of styles and sizes of Panther gear at multiple locations throughout South Florida and online, including the Publix store located across from University Park; the University Bookstore at University Park; Aventura Mall (Champs and Lids stores); Broward Mall, Dolphin Mall and Sawgrass Mills (Lids store); and Miami International Mall (Champs store). If you are an online buyer,, the No. 1 destination for online hats featuring all teams, all styles and all brands, recently added two new FIU Golden Panthers hats to its collection. is now carrying eight different styles of FIU headwear. You can find the new items, which come in navy and white, by visiting recently added an FIU store to their site, which you can find by visiting: http://www.footballfanatics. com/COLLEGE_Florida_International_ Golden_Panthers. n

Alumni Day at Wachovia Bank Wachovia Bank generously hosted an FIU Alumni Day reception in June. Jorge Gonzalez ’88, regional president Dade/Monroe counties, spearheaded the effort. Chapman Graduate School of Business Dean Jose de la Torre provided an update to attendees on the school’s programs. Monique Catoggio, director of Alumni and Partner Relations with the College of Business Administration; Bill Draughon, executive director of the Alumni Association; and Pete Garcia, director, Intercollegiate Athletics, provided updates about their programs as well. If you are interested in learning how your organization can host an Alumni Day program, please contact Jennifer Restrepo in the Office of Alumni Relations at or at 305-348-0159. n



FALL 2007


UPCOMING EVENTS<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<



Football Game vs North Texas

Dada Weekend

Celebrate with the city as FIU plays the last college football game ever in the Orange Bowl. Fireworks, tailgate and more.


Fri.-Sat., Nov. 30-Dec. 1


The Wolfsonian-FIU (1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139)


Sat., Dec. 1, 7 p.m.


Orange Bowl

Contact: For more information, visit College of Business Administration Alumni Holiday Party When:

Tues., Dec. 4, 6:30-9 p.m.


MARC Pavilion at UP

Contact: For more information, call 305-348-0241 or e-mail FIU Alumni Association Board of Directors Meeting When:

Tues., Feb. 5, 2008 at 6:30 p.m.


MARC International Pavilion

Contact: Alina Alfonso at 305-348-7271 or email

Qualified individuals with disabilities as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act who need special accommodations for any FIU-sponsored event can request assistance by calling the phone number listed for the function or via Florida Relay Service at 1-800-955-8771. Requests must be made five working days before the event.

1. FIU is the only U.S. university invited to participate in the “Future House” exhibition at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Students and faculty are building a 3,200-squarefoot home that showcases the latest in energy efficiency. 2. Univision’s Telemundo filmed scenes for the new telenovela “Pecados Ajenos” in front of the Graham Center at University Park this summer. One week later, rap music stars

The Wolfsonian-FIU and the New World Symphony present two evenings celebrating music and film from the 1920s. Contact: For more information, call 305-531-1001 or visit 4th Annual Masters’ Mystery Art Show When:

Thurs., Dec. 6


Ritz-Carlton, South Beach

Contact: For more information, call 305-348-2897 or visit Pip Brant: The Flying Carpet & Other Re-useables When:

Through Dec. 9


The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, PC 110 at UP

The Frost Museum presents this solo exhibition, featuring the work of artist and visual arts professor Pip Brant. Torch Awards Gala When:

Sat., March 8, 2008 at 6:30 p.m.


Graham Center Ballroom

Contact: For more information, call Jennifer Restrepo, assistant director at 305-348-0159 or email

Chris Brown and T-Pain chose FIU’s University Park Campus as the location for the filming of Brown’s latest music video, “Kiss Kiss.” 3. Alumnus Mark Lewis was named the 2007 Arena Football League (AFL) Kicker of the Year. 4. For the third consecutive year, the tennis team won the Sun Belt Conference Championship in ’06-’07.

Prestigious art award goes to FIU graduate FIU alumnus and artist Gean Moreno ’03 was selected as the winner of the 2007 Cintas Foundation Emilio sánchez Award in visual Arts. Moreno collects vibrant multi-textural objects derived from popular culture and pulls them together to create a visceral appearance. the awards were established with funds from the estate of the late oscar B. Cintas, a prominent Cuban industrialist and patron of the arts. since 1963, the Cintas Foundation has awarded more than 300 fellowships to artists of Cuban lineage who reside outside Cuba. the selection program is administered by the Cintas Foundation Board and the Cintas Fellows Program at the Patricia & Philip Frost Art Museum at FIU. the award has been granted to many artists who have gone on to play an influential role in the development of their disciplines. Past recipients include painter Jose Bedia; the late Felix Gonzalez-torres, who will represent the United states at this year’s venice Biennale; installation artist teresita Fernandez ’90;

5. Nearly 100 FIU student-athletes were among the 1,500 honored by the Sun Belt Conference this summer for achieving grade point averages of 3.0 or better. 6. FIU recently joined a select group of colleges and universities from around the country by signing onto the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. FIU will conduct an inventory of all greenhouse gas emissions and

Alumni, submit your favorite FIU Points of Pride and they may appear in an upcoming issue of FIU Magazine. Send your submissions to



Feel the Pride team if one of the team members is an FIU graduate. the next round is scheduled to kick off in November. Questions regarding the 2008 New venture Challenge should be sent to teams interested Alumna wins FIU prize in participating must submit their application for new business proposal forms no later than Feb. 8, 2008. recent graduate Erica Courtney ’07 All teams accepted into the New venture captured top honors this year in the Graduate/ Challenge must submit a written business Alumni category of FIU’s New venture plan, due no later than April 14, 2008. the Challenge, a business plan competition business plan itself must be for an original, presented by the Eugenio Pino and Family for-profit, start-up venture. the business Global Entrepreneurship Center. should not have generated more than $20,000 Courtney created Biodiversity & Company, llC, which, in partnership with an Ecuadorian in revenues nor have risen outside equity capital before February 2008. the plan itself non-profit organization and the local Chachi must address the complete business concept, tribe, will build a state-of-the-art eco-lodge including its implementation. n for birders and a research center in the Chocó rainforest of Ecuador. the area has more birds per square foot than any other place in Alumni gift establishes the world. the company’s strategy includes Honors College scholarship protecting the area, ecotourism, applied research Arturo Jordan ’79, Carlos Castellon ’82 and sales for nonand Ed ricardo ’83, College of Business timber forest Administration alumni and partners at Jordan products. the Castellon ricardo P.l., an accounting, tax, award carries management consulting and litigation support a $10,000 firm, recently donated $25,000 to establish cash prize and a scholarship in support of Honors College $5,000 of in-kind students who are studying accounting at FIU. contributions. “We remember our days at FIU with great the New venture fondness and we are truly delighted to give Challenge is open to back to the institution where we launched our students and alumni of careers,” said Carlos Castellon, a member of the FIU. Each team can have Honors College Community Advisory Board. from one to five members. A “this is a wonderful and generous gift from team is considered an alumni the team at Jordan Castellon ricardo P.l. – one sculptor Maria Elena Gonzales; and the painter Carlos Alfonzo, among many others. the award carries a $15,000 cash prize. n

develop a plan for climate neutrality and sustainability universitywide. 7. The Wolfsonian-FIU, with its unrivaled collection of modern art and design, continues to achieve wide recognition for its exhibitions, publications and educational programs. 8. FIU’s Stempel School of Public Health recently was accredited by Council on Education for Public Health, making it one of only 38 other accredited schools nationally.

9. The Florida Legislature passed a resolution this summer recognizing FIU’s Honors College for 10 years of academic excellence. 10. FIU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication is one of only 25 percent of all communication schools nationwide to have earned full accreditation by The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. n

that will have a direct and significant impact on students,” said lesley A. Northup, dean of the Honors College. “the ‘FIU team’ at Jordan Castellon ricardo P.l. is setting a fine standard for community-university cooperation in producing tomorrow’s leaders.” n

PANTHER PERKS: Panther Partner: Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, South Florida’s focal point of performing arts Panther Perk: The Carnival Center for the Performing Arts is pleased to offer FIU Alumni Association members special discount ticket offers for the Fall 2007 Season. The discounted shows are: • James Devine’s “Tapeire — Driven by Rhythm” on Thursday, Nov. 29, at 8 p.m. in the Studio Theater. Price is $13.50 for general admission. “Tapeire” is an entirely new kind of Irish dance show—raw, passionate, and funky—for an entirely new generation of dance lovers. Think “Stomp” with a Celtic brogue. • Seraphic Fire sings Messiah on Friday, Dec. 21, at 8 p.m. in the Carnival Center Knight Concert Hall. South Florida’s most celebrated choir, Seraphic Fire makes its Carnival Center debut with orchestra in Handel’s masterful synthesis of religious fervor, musical magnificence and ecstatic joy. Prices are $26.75 for orchestra level seating; $21.75 for orchestra circle seating and front of second tier; $16.75 for rear of second tier and front of third tier. How to Take Advantage: Visit 1. Set up an account, if you do not already have one. 2. After you’ve set up an account, you can log in and enter the discount code to access the discounted price for the performances listed below. (Note that if you log in using the FIU code, you will only be able to purchase tickets to the selected performances.) 3. To purchase any other show tickets through the website, you will need to log in without the FIU code and then you will be able to purchase at the regular ticket price for any other performances of interest. If you have any questions, please contact Carnival Center Group Sales at 786-468-2326 or To receive the special FIU code, please email and include your membership identification number.



FALL 2007


Smile for Splendorsthe camera: FIU’s left to rig Cruise aboard O Opening Recepti Ruth Hamht – Gemma Coviaceania’s Regatta. on for Scandinavi ’74, Barb ilton, Barbara Stu n ’82, Dorothy HePictured front rowan left to rig ara Bader, Jerry B ll ’79, Loretta We rnandez, EJ Busk , Glen Hamht – Marcia Strait ader and Marilyn iss, Marcia Merrit er, Dale Drau ilton, Bill Draugho’77, Richard StraitSussman. Back rot n ghon and w ’7 Juan Covi, Raul Chavez ’80, 6, Paul Busker, , Angela C an. havez,

of the sk, Poland, as part d Stull enjoy Gdan Barbara ’79 and Ne dors Cruise. Scandinavian Splen

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Feel the Pride

The Busi hosted a ness Alumni Chap Medina, JSouth Florida CEOter and South Flo Also pictu r. ‘92, Regions Ba speaker series erida CEO magazin Matalon ‘0red are Monique nk president, Mia vent featuring Ange Catoggio m 0 MAcc ‘0 EMBA ‘03 i-Dade County. el 3. and Mann y

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ndees. The event honored the 2007 Silver Pride Reunion atte classes of 1972-1982.

sident chovia Regional Pre ant Florence Tai, Wad Alumni Relations Associate ult ns co g tin rui unties) an Wachovia rec (Dade/Monroe co i Day at Wachovia Bank. Jorge Gonzalez ’88 at Alumn on gh au Dr l Bil t Vice Presiden

Students at the FIU vs. Penn State tailg ate.

Juan and Scandina Gemma Covian ’8 vian Sple ndors Cru2 tour Brugge, Be lgium, as ise. part of th e


Florida International University Magazine

FALL 2007

ALUMNI CLASS NOTES 1970s Daniel B. Katz ’74 recently was honored by the FIU Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame for his work with DBK, a technology company that works extensively with the College of Engineering and Computing. Bernardo C. Garcia Ph.D. ’76, MPA ’80, an international executive coach working with senior leaders in the pharmaceutical and consumer products industry, recently published a book, “Development of a Gay Latino Identity.” Jose R. Villalon ’79, a 26-year veteran of the aquaculture industry, is the new director of World Wildlife Fund’s aquaculture program. Villalon’s primary role is to oversee the Aquaculture Dialogues, a set of multistakeholder groups developing standards for more sustainable aquaculture production. He lives in Virginia with his wife Anita and children Gabriela and Santiago. 1980s John A. Freeman ’81 was married on July 1 in Altamont, N.Y. Freeman and his wife Debbie live in Albany, N.Y. Jose I. Juncadella ’81, founder of Fairchild Partners, has been named to the board of governors of the Commercial Realtor Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches and to the board of governors of the Realtors Commercial Alliance. Olga M. Garay ’82 has been named the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa nominated Garay for the job for being “an internationally recognized dynamo [who brings] just the right mix of vision, knowledge and creativity that Los Angeles needs as we reaffirm our commitment to making this the arts and culture capital of the country.” Garay has more than 20 years of experience as a performing arts curator and grants program officer both in the public sector in Miami and New York and with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation – one of the country’s largest performing arts donors with $1.8 billion in assets. Maria H. Alam ’83, MS ’96 recently was recruited by The George Washington University as associate vice president for Human Resources to oversee the strategic and daily operations of the Division of HR, to implement best practices in the field and improve employee programs, benefits and work/life balance. Prior to accepting this position, Alam worked for 26 years at FIU where she was progressively promoted from fiscal clerk to assistant vice president. Mary L. Cuervo ’83 has been promoted to senior director of Compensation and Benefits for VITAS Healthcare Corporation, a national hospice provider headquartered in Miami, Fla.

Reydel Santos Esq. ’83 joined Miami Rescue Mission, Inc., in July as director of Affordable Housing. Miami Rescue Mission is a faith-based, non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization that has been serving South Florida’s homeless and most needy for more than 85 years. John Garcia ’85 has been promoted to principal planner in the Systems Development Division of MiamiDade Transit. Elizabeth M. Hockinson ’85 received the Writer’s Digest Best Children’s Book of 2006 and the Hollywood Book Award for “Marcello the Movie Mouse,” a picture book following the adventures of a tiny mouse that lives in the Grand Palazzo Theatre in Italy. Hockinson currently is working on other picture books and a middle grade novel. Bret A. Gould Esq. ’86 recently was promoted to chief of Deputy Division of the Juvenile Division of the State Attorney’s Office for the 13th Judicial Circuit of Tampa, Fla. Randy B. Lichtman MHSA ’86 is a program coordinator and an adjunct instructor at Miami-Dade College where he coordinates all business and industry programs for the MDC School of Community Education at the Wolfson Campus. Lichtman currently chairs the founding board of the Miami Acting Company and serves as the company’s musical director. Elaine L. Andrews ’87 recently took part in an exhibition at the Blue Hill Art and Cultural Center in Pearl River, N.Y. Andrews’ large-scale work “Reflections in Motion/Galaxy” was created at FIU while she was working toward her BFA degree. The work consists of nine watercolor paintings, which reflect nine images of the galaxy. 1990s Marcos A. Perez ’90, MBA ’00 accepted an offer to become a partner with the private equity firm MBF Healthcare Partners this summer. Perez left FIU after four years of service, but as a former member of the men’s tennis team and administrative leader, he always will be part of the FIU family. Matthew J. Allen MBA ’91 has been appointed executive vice president and CEO of The Related Group. Alejandro del Carmen, III ’91 has been promoted to chair of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Texas at Arlington. Anna M. Figueroa-Mendez ’91 has joined WGEN-TV, Channel 8, as president of sales. FigueroaMendez previously was national sales manager for WJAN-TV, Channel 41.

Wenceslao Fernandez, Jr. ’92 is a real estate investor. Michael J. Savitt ’92 currently is the general manager of Morton’s, The Steakhouse in Boca Raton, where he oversees restaurant operations and a staff of about 50 employees who serve a dinner-only crowd. Savitt lives in Hollywood with his wife Renee and their 6-year-old daughter. Catherine A. Minnis ’93, MBA ’97, a veteran of more than 19 years of local government experience with Miami-Dade County, currently serves as regional coordinator of the Team Metro Kendall office, responsible for managing a service center that provides outreach, education and service excellence throughout county districts 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. In 2006, Minnis was named the American Cancer Society’s Volunteer of the Year for outstanding service in “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.” She also was acknowledged in Who’s Who in Black South Florida, a publication recognizing individuals whose positions or accomplishments in their chosen fields are significant and whose contributions have improved the quality of life of those they serve. Jose Sanchez, Jr. ’93 presented his dissertation, “Life-Satisfaction Factors Impacting the Older Cuban-American Population,” at the 2006 American Psychological Association convention in New Orleans. Ramon A. De Legorburu ’95 has joined the accounting firm of Morrison Brown Argiz & Farra, LLP, as director of litigation and valuation. Sean Kramer ’95 joined Barry University in September as assistant vice president of Alumni Relations. Previously, Kramer had served as director of Alumni Relations at FIU since 2003. At FIU, he was recognized for his initiation of some award-winning programs in alumni relations, with the Gold Medal Award from CASE for the nation’s Best Student Involvement Program (2004) among his FIU career highlights. Edward N. Cooper MST ’96 has been promoted by Berkowitz Dick Pollack & Brant Certified Public Accountants & Consultants, LLP, from manager to associate director of Tax Services. Cooper works in the Miami office. Danny Pino ’96, Lilly Bernal Pino ’97 and older son Luca welcomed a new baby boy to their family, Julian Franco Pino, this summer. Alberto C. Santalo ’97, a member of the first EMBA class and founder, president and CEO of Avisena, Inc., a Miami-based business supporting the office, billing, and collections side of health care organizations, recently was recognized

**Individuals denoted with a are members of the FIU Alumni Association. To become a member, please visit the online membership site at:

FALL 2007 Florida International University Magazine


Feel the Pride for his company’s ongoing commitment to the program, best demonstrated by student sponsorships. Joseph E. Bush ’98, MS ’02 brings almost 25 years of application support experience in the HVAC industry to his new position as CITY MULTI® application specialist at the Mitsubishi Electric HVAC Advanced Products Division in Suwanee, Ga. Prior to joining Mitsubishi, Bush worked as a private consultant while also leading product development and application support for Automatic Data Processing, Inc., in Roseland, N.J. Maria S. Rosado ’98, Ralph Rosado ’97 (newly elected Alumni Board member) and daughter Mia Isabella welcomed a baby boy into their family, Matias Rafael Rosado, on Aug. 18, at South Miami Hospital. Matias weighed 7 lbs. 2 oz. and measured 19 inches. Mother and son now share a birthday. Edgar A. Ceballos ’99, EMBA ’02 is a member of the steering committee of the first Hispanic Executive Supply Management Summit, organized by the Supply Management Institute. Ricardo Morad, Jr. ’99 and Monica Morad ’03 welcomed baby boy Jordan Alexander Morad into their family on March 24.

Brian J. Rynott ’99 has been promoted to senior manager of Airline Center of Excellence at American Express. Rynott and his wife also welcomed baby girl Daniela into their family on April 4. Jose Valmana ’99 is a member of an experimental archaeology expedition that intends to prove that regular contacts between the Old World and New World were possible since the Stone Age. The study will seek to explain many open issues such as the presence of cocaine and tobacco in Egyptian mummies. 2000s Demian M. Bellumio ’00 was featured in the Business section of “The Miami Herald” in May. His company, Hoodiny Entertainment Group, offers complete artist catalogs online and develops Web sites for artists such as Ricky Martin and Pitbull. Donovan A. Campbell, Jr. ’00 joined WSVN in January, right before Super Bowl XLI in South Florida. While at FIU, Campbell worked at “The Sun-Sentinel” for two years. He got his first television job at ESPN where he was a production assistant from 2000-’02. He also was in the U.S. Army for three years and is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. Peter Gonzalez ’00 recently was named CEO of Crosswell International Corporation. Gonzalez also is a licensed

mortgage broker and a licensed realtor in Florida. Melissa Tapanes Llahues Esq. ’00 and her husband Manny welcomed daughter Laylah into their family on July 19. Laylah weighed 6 lbs. 7 oz. and measured 20 inches. Llahues is a member of FIU’s Council of 100 and practices zoning, land use and environmental law at Bercow Radell & Fernandez, P.A., in Miami. Johane F. Jean ’01 has joined Baker & Daniels LLP as an associate in the law firm’s downtown Indianapolis office. Jean focuses her practice in labor and employment law. Armando Alvarez, Jr. ’02 currently works for WTVJ NBC 6 and WSCV Telemundo 51 as a sports and news producer. Alvarez also covers boxing for and freelances for “The Miami Herald.” Pablo B. Morla ’02 has joined the Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin Tampa office as an associate in the Casualty Group. Morla joined the firm after working as an associate in the Tampa office of Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A. At Marshall Dennehey, his practice is focused in the areas of premises and products liability, construction, nursing home and professional malpractice. Ivan R. Lopez ’03 has earned a master’s in fine arts in theatre from the National Theatre Conservatory. Gean P. Moreno ’03 has won the Cintas Foundation’s 2007 Emilio Sanchez Award in Visual Arts. Moreno’s work recently was displayed at FIU’s Frost Art Museum. Jennifer T. Pineiro ’03 recently became a certified professional wedding planner. Pineiro does different kinds of event and party planning. Sandra Rodriguez Barron, MFA ’03 won “Best First Book” for her debut novel, “The Heiress of Water.” She received the award at the 9th Annual International Latino Book Awards in May in New York City. Adam M. Stewart ’03 was promoted to CEO of Sandals Resorts International in November 2006 at the age of 25.

Jose A. Chomon ’04 was promoted to senior telecommunication analyst at Florida Power & Light on October 2006. Chomon oversees all the telecommunication and phone calls coming into the FP&L call centers. Alex M. Diaz ’04 joined his team as associate vice president in DTZ Rockwood’s Miami office in June, where he is responsible for the company’s private client investment practice in South Florida. Before joining DTZ

Rockwood, Diaz was an associate broker for leasing and capital markets with Trammell Crow Company, where he represented clients such as TIAA-CREF, WEDA Developers and UnitedHealth Group. Misha Kuryla Gomez MBA ’04 has launched a successful cupcake business in Miami, Fla., that allows her to be “a stay-at-home mom and have a job.” Misha’s Cupcakes sells to nine restaurants, bakeries and cafés (including those at Books & Books). Gomez currently is working on a partnership to open a cupcake/cookie store. Anthony J. Bayona ’05 has joined North Star Resource Group as a financial representative, where he helps his individual and business clientele develop and implement financial strategies. Bayona specializes in supporting the needs of physicians and small business owners. Della Bridgewater ’05 recently was announced as front office manager of Pelican Bay at Lucaya. A 182-room independent boutique hotel, Pelican Bay employs a workforce of 78 Bahamians. Juan M. Duque ’05 recently graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Recruit Training Center in Cape May, N.J. During the eight-week training program, Duque completed a vigorous training curriculum consisting of academics and practical instruction on water safety and survival, military customs and courtesies, seamanship skills, first aid, firefighting and marksmanship. Antonio M. Lopez ’05 recently was awarded the 2007 National Recreation and Parks Association Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award, recognizing up-andcoming parks and recreation professionals. He also received the 2007 Florida Recreation and Parks Association’s Distinguished Young Professional Award. He is the director of Parks and Recreation for Miami Lakes. Ruben A. Saavedra MS ’05 has been promoted to staff development and training consultant at the State of Florida/ Department of Corrections, where he is in charge of the education and training of 1,300 employees. Xiomara M. Alfaro ’06 and Edward D. Lopez De Uralde ’04 recently welcomed baby boy Edward Daniel Lopez De Uralde Jr., into their family. Walter J. Leinberger ’06 relocated to Chattanooga, Tenn., to join Unum Corporation as a director in their Investment Finance Department. Leinberger, his wife and their two children began their new journey in May.

How to submit a Class Note: Share your good news with your fellow alumni by filling out an online Class Notes form at Send us information on recent hires, promotions, awards, career achievements, appointments, births and marriages. You may also fax us your information to 305-348-3636, ATT: Class Notes. Electronic photos can be submitted in jpeg or bitmap format to appear with class notes by emailing Please indicate in the email which class note the photo should appear with, along with the full names and class years of all the individuals who appear in the photo.


Florida International University Magazine

FALL 2007

donor profile: Shepard Broad Foundation

Gift supports the development of international education at FIU Ann Bussel, Morris Broad and Ruth Broad flank Shepard Broad in a photo taken on July 8, 1989.

By Martin Haro ’05

In 1920, when he was 13 years old, Shepard Broad, an orphan immigrant, came to the United States from Russia and eventually, his achievements came to span law, finance, real estate, politics and philanthropy. In 1956, Broad and his wife Ruth established a charitable foundation that has given generously to many causes, including higher education. Today, his son Morris Broad and daughter Ann Bussel carry on their late parents’ legacy by continuing philanthropic and leadership endeavors, one of which is benefiting FIU. This year, the Shepard Broad Foundation and the Broad-Bussel Family pledged the first private gift toward the new International Studies Building at University Park – a gift of $250,000 that, when matched by the state, will allow for the construction and dedication of the Ruth K. and Shepard Broad Auditorium. “For us, giving back to FIU is like giving back to our parents,” said Bussel, the foundation’s vice president. “It makes sense that we would be interested in helping in any way we can. It’s a good fit.” Architects have planned for a 500-seat facility, making the Ruth K. and Shepard Broad Auditorium the largest-capacity space on campus. In addition to classes, it will host meetings of world business and

political leaders, as well as the Department of International Relations’ Ruth K. and Shepard Broad Educational Series – a program of lectures, presentations and symposia by scholars in international fields. The Broad Series regularly draws more than 200 students and members of the community. In the 2006-’07 academic year, it brought to campus, among others, pre-eminent international relations scholars Richard Betts and Robert Jervis of Columbia University, South African Ambassador Barbara Masekela and professor Asher Susser of the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University. “This gift represents an important milestone in our $20 million capital campaign for the new International Studies Building and we are extremely grateful to them,” said Douglas Kincaid, vice provost of international studies. “Since this gift is a significant expansion of the support the Broad Foundation had previously provided to FIU, it symbolizes a vote of confidence in our plan for the development of international education at the university.” The Foundation and the Broad-Bussel Family are known for this type of support locally, nationally and internationally. Their involvement with the educational series at FIU began three years ago, when university officials approached the family after witnessing the success of a similar series the foundation sponsored at Florida State University. Bussel says the success of the FIU series was a determining factor in the Foundation’s decision to contribute to the expansion of the program and of the university. “We really wanted to see it continue,” she

said. “But we like to seed new and exciting projects, see them through and then see them take on a life of their own…sprout into a healthy tree. We think FIU is uniquely positioned to have an excellent international studies program because of its location and the demographic of its student body, so we are eager to see this happen.” Morris Broad, the Foundation’s chairman, echoes his sister’s sentiments and says the expectation for the gift his family has pledged to FIU is two-fold. “The gift will encourage the continuation of the lecture series in a more meaningful way,” he said. “It will also support the international studies program and more importantly, the students and the community at large. Our experience working with FIU has been exciting, so we look forward to continue working with the university in parallel efforts.” The groundbreaking of the new $40 million International Studies Building designed by the architectural firm Arquitectonica is scheduled for Spring 2008. Construction on the new building is expected to be finished in 2010. FIU already has secured $20 million from the state of Florida to fund the new International Studies Building. The university needs to raise an additional $9.75 million in private funding, which will be matched through the state’s matching gift program and added to the $20 million already in hand to reach the $40 million goal. For information on the schedule for the 2007-’08 Broad Series, visit n


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FALL 2007


FIU Magazine - Fall 2007 - Defying Mother Nature