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M a g a z ine WINTER 2011-12 Volume 23

FIU, JPMorgan Chase and Miami-Dade County Public Schools come together to transform lives at Miami Northwestern Senior High

Winter 2011-12 VOLUME 23

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With a $1 million grant from JPMorgan Chase, FIU and Miami-Dade County Public Schools are working to improve learning and college readiness at Miami Northwestern Senior High School in Liberty City. Through the new partnership, called “The Education Effect,” Miami Northwestern becomes FIU’s first university-assisted community school. The Education Effect will expand opportunities for students like Northwestern sophomore Marcus Postell, on the cover. Postell is an FIU dual enrollment student and is already making plans for college. The partnership will increase the number of dual enrollment classes at Miami Northwestern, create an aquaponics science lab and bring Northwestern students to FIU to learn about college life.

8 The Law of Life and Death College of Law professor Elizabeth Price Foley poses provocative questions about life and death in her new book.

14 A Beautiful Mess Miami-Dade County’s Teacher of the Year Agustin Grana ’00 fulfills his higher calling teaching special needs children.

24 Solar Decathlon 2011 Team FIU goes to Washington and brings back high marks for its eco-friendly home design.

26 The Karatassos Kitchen

Hospitality and Tourism Management alumni siblings Pano Jr., Niko and Ann Karatassos make the restaurant business a family affair.

Doctors of Tomorrow The Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine Class of 2015 was selected from 3,816 applicants and is the largest since the college opened in 2009. The 82 students have an average GPA of 3.6, and attended colleges across the country, including FIU. Jennifer Chen (front) from Walnut, Calif.; Rhea Chattopadhyay (middle) from Daytona Beach; and Louis Carrillo from Pembroke Pines were among the students welcomed into the college during the 2011 White Coat Ceremony, which marks the beginning of their medical education. Photo by Ivan Santiago ’00 WINTER 2011-12

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from the Editor The Education Effect This fall, FIU Magazine writer Sissi Aguila and I both had the chance to spend some time in local public high schools. I followed sophomore Marcus Postell to his classes at Miami Northwestern Senior High School in Liberty City so that I could write about the new FIU partnership called “The Education Effect.” Aguila went to Southwest Miami High to profile Miami-Dade County’s Teacher of the Year and FIU alumnus Agustin Grana, who teaches intellectually disabled students. We were inspired. Agustin is giving skills and confidence to students who many have said are not teachable. “What I saw was a teacher who cares deeply about his students and is completely invested in them,” Aguila said. “It was remarkable to see how much his students trust him and enjoy being in school.” At Miami Northwestern, the teachers I met are pushing their students academically and reinforcing a college-bound message at every opportunity. In Frederick Hyppolite’s biology class, students are divided into teams, each named for a university – Team FIU, Team Yale, Team NYU, Team Harvard. The teams earn points for participation and answering questions correctly. The day I visited, Team FIU won :) . When another team member grumbled about them knowing all the answers, Team FIU’s Wilfred Changeux told him, “If you want to know, study.” The Education Effect is the name of the FIU partnership, but truly, the education effect is at work throughout the FIU community. You will find the education effect in FIU’s community arts projects, the Solar Decathlon and in Grana’s classroom. Hope, innovation, transformation – that’s the powerful effect of education.

Deborah O’Neil MA ’09

FIU Magazine Editorial Advisory Board

FIU MAGAZINE Division of External Relations

Lourdes Balepogi ’00 President of Chispa Marketing

Sandra B. Gonzalez-Levy

Fred Blevens Honors College Fellow and Professor School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Terry Witherell

Gisela Casines Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences Carol Damian Professor of Art History Director and Chief Curator, Frost Art Museum Paul Dodson Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations Stephen Fain Professor Emeritus, College of Education Susan Jay Director of Development College of Engineering and Computing Nicole Kaufman MS ’06 Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations Division of University Advancement Larry Lunsford Associate Vice President for Student Affairs University Ombudsman Nilda Pedrosa, Esq. Assistant Dean of Development & External Affairs, College of Law Maureen Pelham Director of Clinical Trials, Division of Research Rafael Paz, Esq. Associate General Counsel Heather Radi-Bermudez ’06 Marketing Coordinator, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Senior Vice President External Relations Vice President External Relations

Karen Cochrane Director News and Communications

Deborah O’Neil MA ’09 Editor, FIU Magazine

Martin Haro ’05 Associate Editor

Aileen Solá-Trautmann Art Director

Mariel De Moya Designer Writers Sissi Aguila ’99, MA ’08 Blanca Morales Pete Pelegrin ’96 Melia Sandler Photographers Doug Garland ’10 Gloria O’Connell Ivan Santiago ’00 Ann States Angel Valentin

FIU Board of Trustees Michael M. Adler Sukrit Agrawal Cesar L. Alvarez Jose J. Armas Jorge L. Arrizurieta Thomas A. Breslin Joseph L. Caruncho ’81 Marcelo Claure Gerald C. Grant Jr. ’78, MBA ’89 Mayi de la Vega ’81 Albert Maury ’96, ’02 Patrick O’Keefe Claudia Puig

Mary Sudasassi Director of Public Relations, College of Nursing and Health Sciences Duane Wiles Interim Executive Director, FIU Alumni Association

FIU Magazine is printed on 30% PCW recycled paper that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council

Copyright 2012, Florida International University. FIU Magazine is published by the Florida International University Division of External 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. To reach us call: 305-348-7235. Alumni Office: Write to Office of Alumni Relations at MMC MARC 510, Miami, FL 33199 or call 305-348-3334 or toll free at 800-FIU-ALUM. Visit Change of Address: Please send updated address information to FIU Office of Alumni Relations, MARC 510, Miami, FL, 33199 or by email to WRGP Radiate FM: FIU Student Radio is broadcast north of Kendall on 95.3 FM, south of Kendall on 88.1 FM and 96.9 FM in North Miami and South Broward. Letters to the Editor: FIU Magazine welcomes letters to the editor regarding magazine content. Send your letters via e-mail to alumni@, by fax to 305-348-3247 or mail to FIU Magazine, Division of External Relations, MMC 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. 11971_11/11

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FROM our READERS Pantherized in Washington I read thoroughly the Fall 2011 issue and enjoyed it plentifully. It is so gratifying to update oneself with the so many accomplishments by the FIU community. One item left me with a question. In the President’s Corner by Mark B. Rosenberg, the picture shows U.S Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen holding in her hands an ítem by which she shows off her FIU pride. Supposedly, the item represents our Golden Panther, which is what it says on the item’s yellow shirt. But to me, that ítem looks more like a teddy bear instead of a Panther. Jesús Escobar MS ’98, MS ’99 Editor’s Response Dear Jesus, I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the FIU Magazine. You are correct about the photo of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen ’75, MS ’87. The teddy bear belongs to the congresswoman, but we wondered if our alumna in the U.S. Congress is properly outfitted with FIU gear. So, with the help of Carlos Becerra ’98, MPA ’01 on our Federal Relations team, we took care of that. A Paw in the Sky I’d like to share what a wonderful experience I had at the first FIU Panther football game on Sept. 1. As an Alumni Association member I attended the tailgate at the association tent and enjoyed the package dinner, meeting new people and receiving a foam Panther paw glove. In the meantime, my daughter, Desiree Sielaff, a freshman sports and fitness major, met her friend, David Martinez, a freshman political science major, and both enjoyed free hot dogs and brownies sponsored by the Crusade for Christ stand. We joined each other after the band and cheerleaders marched through, and as the band played, we asked to take our picture with Roary. The three of us were excited and anticipating the first football game. While we sat high up in the bleachers under the soft, steady rain, I was touched to see our players taking a moment to kneel and pray before the game began. Moments after they prayed, I surprisingly saw a paw in the sky. I couldn’t believe my eyes and immediately pointed it out to Desiree and David. In my excitement, I grabbed my camera and snapped

several pictures! I felt this was a heavenly sign from God above giving His blessing to our Panther players who acknowledged Him before the game. As it was, they beat North Texas 41-16!!! A Panther Paw in the sky or just another cloud? Vivian Sielaff, Proud FIU Panther Parent How Far We Have Come I had the honor of being awarded an athletic scholarship to be part of FIU’s inaugural football signing class back in 2001. I have been back to campus recently and have attended games at the renovated stadium. Wow! I think back to the early days and cannot help but be proud of how far the school has come with FIU’s epic victory over Toledo at the Little Caesars Bowl last December. FIU football back then was much different. We spent an entire year practicing and scrimmaging games with each other. Weeks of practice led to game scrimmages between the defense and the offense. Months of practice culminated with our first Blue & Gold Game. We used to dress in the fieldhouse and walk the trail between the baseball field and nature preserve, past the soccer field and arena to what is now the intramural field for practice. I remember training all summer the following year in preparation for our first real season. Playing an actual game against another opponent was all we could look forward to. That inaugural game against St. Peter’s was like a Super Bowl for us. Temporary bleachers were set up to fill the corners and ends of the field. Coming out for stretches and hearing Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” is something I’ll never forget. Running out of the fieldhouse, in between the bleacher section and onto the field for the first time was a rush I haven’t felt since. The stadium was packed and the energy was intense. We came out and capped the night off with the first ever win in program history. After the game, I remember me and my roommates (Carlos Ruiz, Vic Cernius and Ed Wenger) were all excited and watched a copy of the game broadcast that we had recorded. I was actually reminiscing about those days and that game with my old roommate and still close friend Carlos Ruiz, who started at center that game. I’m proud to be one of the first Panthers and excited about the future of the university. Lazaro “Larry” Leon ‘07

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, MMC 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.

Build something larger than yourself.

This is what it means to be a member of the FIU Alumni Association.

Give Back. Connect. Enjoy. WINTER 2011-12 | 3 • 305-FIU-ALUM

President’s Corner Mark B. Rosenberg

August was a Worlds Ahead month for FIU. We began the month by welcoming our newest – and largest – class of future doctors at the third White Coat Ceremony for the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine on Aug. 5. That day, 82 medical students formally began their journey toward becoming physicians who will practice medicine in a compassionate and comprehensive manner in their communities, many of them right here in South Florida. We then celebrated our first-ever Summer Commencement on Aug. 13 and had the honor of conferring a Ph.D. in history to the oldest graduate in FIU history, Richard M. Smith. Dr. Smith, who just turned 88, is a decorated World War II veteran, successful businessman, and a dedicated father, grandfather and great grandfather. Dr. Smith, who started his doctoral studies in his 80s, FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg welcomes Alpha Phi Alpha brothers Yorman Sanchez, Allen Pierre-Louis, Marcus Thompkins, Stephen Portee, Jareem Forbes, Jamal Cabroll and Kameel Lettsome who performed for incoming freshmen at the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential House in August.

was part of the crew of a four-engine B-24 Liberator aircraft. And he was one of thousands of young brave men and women, including my father, who were part of what Tom Brokaw called the “Greatest Generation.” Dr. Smith and his fellow soldiers saved the world and today, Dr. Smith serves as a

shining example of determination and passion for learning. We are proud to have him among our newest alumni. Shortly after celebrating the accomplishments of Dr. Smith and more than 3,400 new graduates, on Aug. 22 we welcomed our largest student body ever – 46,000 students. What a way to kick off the fall semester! Our record number of students brought with them more Panther pride than ever, energizing student life. FIU’s Panhellenic sororities had record recruitment with more than 750 students applying, 595 participating during recruitment week and 390 receiving bids to join. Our sororities and fraternities are highly involved in university life and in our community and are among the campus organizations that develop leaders at FIU. Hundreds of students and their parents also came to the Reagan House for a welcome reception for our new students. Our students also joined other FIU fans in packing Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium for our home football games and this FIU pride carried through Homecoming – our biggest and best yet! All of these August accomplishments set the stage for a groundbreaking academic year for FIU, one that is focused on student learning, innovation and collaboration. I know I can count on your support to make this year Worlds Ahead

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On The Prowl

TREASURES: VINTAGE VACUUM The Wolfsonian-FIU in Miami Beach has a vast collection of more than 120,000 objects, rare books, ephemeral items and precious archives of mostly North American and European origin from 1885-1945. One of the themes of the museum’s permanent collection celebrates American Industrial Design (1915-1940), and features artifacts such as this vacuum. Conceived late in this pioneering era of industrial design circa 1945 by Harley J. McAllister, this vintage household appliance was manufactured by Fairfax Industries in Washington, D.C., and made in Wellend, Canada. This vacuum was made of chrome, plastic and rubber and is on display at The Wolfsonian-FIU as a gift from Martin K. Webb and Charles L. Venable. Photo by Silvia Ros

87-Year-Old Graduate Makes History Richard Smith became FIU’s oldest graduate last August, earning a Ph.D. in history at age 87. FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg described the World War II veteran as “a true American hero.” Smith’s academic achievement made headlines in print, television and online news around the country. Here are some highlights from the media:

“When Richard Smith started college, Bing Crosby was all the rage. When he finished his Ph.D., it was Lil Wayne.” —AOL Smith on why he pursued a doctorate

“I got my master’s at FAU and decided to keep going…. I believe the most important thing for seniors like myself is keeping their brain going.” —Huffington Post

“Smith handwrote his entire dissertation, chapter by chapter, on the Civil War era politician John Sherman, then typed it up and sent it to his advisor, American history professor Darden Asbury Pyron.” —The Miami Herald The FIU Mobile app is now live for iPhone, Android and Blackberry, providing access to a wide array of university services from anywhere. You can use it to see what’s happening on campus, read FIU news, check class schedules and financial aid, enroll in courses, access interactive campus maps, watch FIU videos, connect to FIU Facebook and Twitter, read the latest news and much more. Reviews of the app have been five-star thus far after more than 9,800 downloads of the iPhone app. To get the FIU Mobile app visit:

Smith talking about professor Pyron

“I couldn’t write three sentences he didn’t correct. There were times I wanted to kick his a#$.” —CBS 4 Miami Professor Pyron discussing the irrelevance of a student’s age

“The very first conversation I had with him, I said, ‘I’m not going to make any allowances for you.’ I told him I’d treat him like everyone else on one condition: that he promise not to die on me. And, bless him, he didn’t.” —Chronicle of Higher Education

“He believes continued learning is the best way to stay healthy, and with a mind as sharp as his, who can argue?” —WSVN TV 7 WINTER 2011-12 | 5

On The Prowl

Alumnus joins FIU Board of Trustees Alumnus Gerald Grant, Jr. ’78, MBA ’89, is the newest member of the FIU Board of Trustees. Grant

TRAVELS: INDIA Religious Studies professor Whitney Bauman spent six weeks in India studying the ancient Jain religion last summer as a Bhagwan Mahavir Junior Faculty Fellow. His fellowship was provided by the FIU Bhagwan Mahavir Professorship, the only endowed Jain professorship in the Western Hemisphere. Bauman’s travel was also supported by an Anita Broad Research Grant. Bauman visited Jain communities and universities in Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Indore and Ladnun to explore the Jain doctrine that not only humans and animals, but also plants, rivers, mountains and all of nature possess life, or jiva. As a result of examining three doctrines within Jainism – the ensoulment of all life, ahimsa or nonviolence, and the doctrine of Jain relativity/non-absolutism – Bauman is constructing a bioethic for what he calls “planetary technologies.” Modern, Western science and its technologies have tended to be centered on the human being, in such a way that the rest of the natural world is only understood as an instrument toward human ends. A Jain-influenced science and technology might offer a planetary perspective of science: scientific and technological development for the future thriving of the entire planet (rivers, trees, mountains, etc.), rather than the thriving of human beings alone. During his travels, Bauman visited many temples and cultural sites including the Nagaur Fort near Jodhpur, shown in the top photo. He also gave a guest lecture at the Institute of Jain Studies and at the Government Autonomous Holkar Science College, both in Indore, India, shown in the middle photo.

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is the branch director of financial planning for AXA Advisors, LLC – South Florida Branch. He is an active member of the South Florida community, serving on the Foundation Board of Directors for both FIU and Florida A&M University. He is a past president of the FIU Alumni Association and also serves on the advisory board for FIU’s Honors College. Grant is the author of the book Bold Moves to Creating Financial Wealth.

FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg and President’s Council Chair Victor Balestra with FIU First Generation scholarship recipients.

Two events raise $350,000 for First Generation scholarships Two events held last fall sponsored by the FIU President’s Council and FIU Men’s Basketball Coach Isiah Thomas raised a combined $350,000 for student scholarships. The early October South Florida All-Star Classic charity basketball game was held at the U.S. Century Bank Arena at Modesto A. Maidique Campus and featured LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. It was organized to benefit FIU Men’s Basketball Coach Isiah Thomas’ Mary’s Court Foundation. Coach Thomas pledged $50,000 from the soldout event to First Gen, a gift that will be matched by the state for a total impact of $100,000. In late September, more than 150 community leaders attended the FIU President’s Council First Generation Scholarship Fund DreamMakers Breakfast at the Biltmore Hotel, where they heard from FIU students who have benefited from the First Gen program. Among the university supporters in attendance was Wells Fargo Senior Vice President Jorge Villacampa. He presented a check for $50,000 on behalf of the bank, one of the fund’s leading corporate sponsors for the past three years. In all, the breakfast raised $122,000, resulting in a total impact of almost $250,000 including state match.


Photo by Doug Garland ’10

Construction of the north side begins January 2012 and with no

The old north-side bleachers at FIU Stadium are history. Bulldozing of those bleachers began after the last home game of the season so that FIU Stadium can be enclosed by the time the 2012 FIU Football

weather delays, the project is expected to be completed by early September in time for the first home game of 2012. Phase IV, the final stage in FIU Stadium’s construction, will be the upper deck of the stadium, at a date later to be determined. The final

season rolls around. Phase III of FIU Stadium construction will enclose the north side of the stadium so it mirrors the south side. New suites and a larger, new stadium club are being designed for the north side of the stadium. So,

seating capacity for FIU Stadium with the upper deck will make it a 45,000-seat stadium. “This is a huge step forward,” head football coach Mario Cristobal said. “It keeps us on pace with everyone else in the country in terms

there will be two stadium clubs at FIU Stadium. You could walk three-fourths of FIU Stadium on the old concourse.

of the facilities race. The most important thing is that it’s the continued

Next season, you will be able to go around the entire stadium on the

growth of our program, continued growth of the university, continued

concourse. When the stadium is enclosed, the capacity is expected to

growth of our stadium and of our facilities. FIU is committed to

be 20,000-plus; an exact number will be determined later.

building a big-time football program in every sense.”

SCIENTIST WINS PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL WORLDS AHEAD FACULTY AWARD in cystic fibrosis patients. She has published

Florida Public Hurricane Loss Model, which is

of the Herbert Wertheim

more than 50 journal articles and was a 2004

the first public model to assess hurricane risk.

College of Medicine is FIU’s

recipient of the FIU Excellence in Research

He also leads the 3D Hurricane Storm Surge

2011-12 President’s Council

Award. In addition, Mathee is a highly regarded

Animation and Visualization project, which

Worlds Ahead Faculty Award recipient. Molecular

teacher, mentoring dozens of students in her

enables residents to see a 3D animation of their


homes or businesses under projected storm

A founding faculty member

microbiologist Kalai Mathee

Runners-up for the prize were physics

surge conditions.

accepted the honor, which comes with a

professor James Webb and engineering

$12,500 award, during Faculty Convocation

professor Shu-Ching Chen. Both received

20 nominations from nearly every college

in September.

$2,000 awards.

and school for this year’s newly redesigned

The President’s Council received more than

An extragalactic astrophysicist, Webb

award. The award criteria were aligned with

Department of Molecular Microbiology and

has led the university’s drive to build an

the Worlds Ahead brand and strategic plan.

Infectious Diseases in the College of Medicine.

observatory on campus and is the director of

The award now recognizes faculty who are

She joined FIU’s Department of Biological

the Southeastern Association for Research in

student-centered, make an impact through

Sciences in 1999 and established a multi-

Astronomy Kitt Peak Observatory. He’s well

research, partnerships or creative activities,

faceted research program focused on the

known on campus for his popular Star Parties

and exceed expectations through innovations

organism Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is

and his guitar playing.

in the classroom, service to the university

Mathee is the founding chair of the

responsible for the high morbidity and mortality

Chen is co-principal investigator of the

or leadership. WINTER 2011-12 | 7


re you alive? What makes you so sure? These strange questions are the opening lines of a new book by College of Law professor Elizabeth Price Foley. The Law of Life and Death uses stories of real people – some of whom, like Terri Schiavo, readers are sure to recognize – to examine the laws that govern life and death questions. The book journeys through a range of provocative issues like abortion, in-vitro fertilization, life support and physicianassisted suicide. In her discussion of cryogenics, Foley poses troubling questions for the future. The law deems those cryogenically preserved to be dead, but what if science one day succeeds in resurrecting them? “Would such a person become un-dead?” Case by case, the book reveals the complexities of answering life and death questions, both legally and personally. Readers will find themselves turning those questions inward. What is the essence of being a person? If it is more than just eating and breathing, what does that mean for those in a vegetative state? Like the opening lines, The Law of Life and Death will give you pause. FIU Magazine caught up with Foley recently to talk about the book.

What motivated you to write this book?

opposites. In fact, my research revealed that

to equivocate on the definition of death in the

My father died in the summer of 2004,

the two concepts don’t relate to each other at

same way it can with the definition of life.

when I was writing my first book about

all, legally speaking. The law has a pretty well

constitutional law. His death wasn’t a “good”

defined definition of death, but no definition

What do U.S. laws reveal about our

death, and it raised a lot of issues in my mind

at all of life. I think this is due to the fact that

relationship to death and dying?

about the meaning of life and death. Beyond

defining life is laden with moral judgments

the basic philosophical questions raised by

and has implications for controversial issues

and relatively unexpected: That the law

these types of moments, I became intrigued

such as abortion. And while there are certainly

of life and death is much more fluid and

– as a lawyer – with the specific question of

controversies surrounding the definition of

multifaceted than one might expect. While

how the law defines life and death, and how

death – something I spend a good deal of

this may seem initially disturbing, I became

those definitions relate (or don’t relate) to

time exploring in the book – the law simply

convinced, while writing the book, that

each other.

cannot, pragmatically, punt on defining death.

this was a good thing. It’s good because it

Everyone will die, and this necessitates a

allows the law to accommodate a diverse

They reveal something I find fascinating

Life and death would seem to be the most

relatively clear and stable legal definition of

array of viewpoints on issues that are

straightforward of antonyms. But that’s not

death so that wills can be probated, insurance

intensely personal and vary wildly by things

so in the law. Why the ambiguity?

proceeds can be distributed and crimes can

such as religion and culture. This is one

be prosecuted. The law simply cannot afford

area of the law where a one-size-fits-all

Life and death, in the eyes of the law, aren’t

8 | WINTER WINTER 2011-12 2011-12

approach would be counterproductive and unnecessarily divisive.

His methods were crude and often offensive,

All of these questions can be worked out,

but he forced American society to debate

but it certainly won’t be easy, and I think

the desirability of physician-assisted suicide

the inevitable answer will be that, once a

Most people might be surprised to learn

and shed light on longstanding practices that

certain number of years have passed under

there’s such a thing as “wrongful life”

were occurring regularly, albeit behind the

cryopreservation, the resurrected individual

and “wrongful conception” and “wrongful

scenes. His crusade was undoubtedly a big

would be a ward of the state until such time

birth.” What is the purpose of these laws?

impetus behind passage of laws in Oregon

as he/she could support him/herself. The laws

and Washington that have legalized physician-

could devise ways around these pragmatic

wrongful birth are all tort claims – in other

assisted suicide. But it was also a backstory

financial problems, of course, such as

words, private lawsuits that seek money

in the Supreme Court’s decisions in 1997

through the establishment of special trusts or

damages. In each of these torts, the

denying recognition of a constitutional right to

the like. But legal relationships – for example,

basic idea is that a child has been born or

physician-assisted suicide.

between the resurrected individual and their

Wrongful life, wrongful conception, and

conceived, and this birth or

lineal descendants – would be tricky and

conception has resulted in harm, either to the parents (who didn’t want to become parents) or to the child (who was born with disabilities). These are all relatively “new” torts – cropping up in the last 30 or 40 years – and they are quite

require a good deal of thought.

“The law of life and death is much more fluid and multifaceted than one may expect.”

isn’t always a good thing, but a harm to be compensated for. States have a surprising amount of authority over life and death legal questions. Where does the State of Florida fall in the spectrum of laws regarding life and death? In general, Florida is relatively conservative on its legal approach to life and death issues. In the realm of death, for example, Florida law requires “clear and convincing evidence” to terminate life support – an issue that was hotly debated in the Terri Schiavo case. We just marked the death of Dr. Jack Kevorkian in June 2011. Did his crusade

that we will continue to see erosion or even the overturning of Roe v. Wade? I think Roe v. Wade has already been significantly eroded. It’s not quite accurate to characterize abortion as a “fundamental” right any longer, after the

controversial, as you can imagine, because they acknowledge that life

For better or worse, how likely is it

Supreme Court’s decisions in Planned You write about heads cryogenically

Parenthood v. Casey and Gonzales v.

preserved in the hopes that they may one

Carhart. Abortion is still a recognized

day be reattached to a clone or robotic

liberty interest under the Constitution, but

body. Can you talk about some of the

the Supreme Court has shown greater

issues society will face in the future if

willingness over the years to sustain laws

science manages to resurrect these

that regulate abortion, and even prohibit

human body pieces?

some types of abortion, such as “partial

If this ever becomes reality, all bets are off.

birth” abortions.

If the essence of our “personhood” is defined by a functioning brain, then the successful

I was horrified by the story of Zach

unfreezing of a cryogenically preserved

Dunlap. Can you share that story and its

head (or just brain) would imply that the


person previously declared legally dead is

Yeah, the Zach Dunlap story made me

no longer so. How the law would be able to

lose some sleep. The 21-year-old suffered

accommodate such a resurrection is an

a traumatic brain injury in 2008. He was

open question.

declared brain dead in the hospital and

Presumably, once declared legally dead, all

doctors began preparing to harvest his

make any difference in the right-to-die

of one’s assets dissipate and are distributed

organs. Zach heard all of it because he was

versus right-to-life movements?

to others. Once resurrected, those assets

conscious but unable to speak. Fortunately

could no longer be reclaimed and the

for Zach, two of his cousins, both nurses,

issue of physician-assisted suicide to the

“person” would literally have to start over, in

were in the room and able to demonstrate

forefront of the American public’s mind.

terms of personal and professional identity.

that he was responding to pain. The

Certainly. Dr. Kevorkian brought the

Continues next page

WINTER 2011-12 | 9

and understanding of the patient. I’m a

In my mind, this urges great caution in

huge advocate of advanced directives

considering proposals to expand the

such as living wills and durable healthcare

definition of brain death or loosen its

powers of attorney, but they must be

diagnostic criteria.

drafted with the goal of effectuating the patient’s own wishes, and without any

You present a mind-boggling number

pressure whatsoever.

of variables regarding brain death and consciousness and the possibilities

The Law of Life and Death Harvard University Press, 2011 Continued

You conclude the courts made a wrong

of technology. Is there an essential

decision in the Terri Schiavo case. Would

question we should ask ourselves when

it be fair to say that you have a bias for

considering an advanced directive?

life when it comes to people in various states of incapacity? Incompetent patients – those unable to

Boy, that’s a tough question. Death is such a personal moment and in many ways, we now have some legal control over

preparations for harvesting were stopped.

make their own healthcare decisions – are

death’s timing and method, in large part

Forty-eight days later, Zach went home,

the most vulnerable among us. I do think

thanks to advance directives.

substantially recovered.

it’s a hallmark of a civilized society to have

As the book shows, Zach’s story isn’t isolated. Misdiagnoses of brain death are more common than the medical profession

I think the most important thing for

laws that protect incompetent individuals as

anyone to think about is this: Would you

much as possible.

rather be extremely disabled and alive, or

In the specific context of incompetent

dead? It’s actually a much harder question

admits — since they don’t really admit to

individuals for whom life-sustaining care

to answer than you might think, particularly

any misdiagnoses at all. And although still

is being provided, the removal of such

if (like me), you are aware of data showing

relatively rare, they do occur, and the potential

life-sustaining care must be done only with

that extremely disabled individuals –

consequences are obviously devastating.

extreme caution. These patients cannot, by

for example, individuals in a locked-in

definition, tell us what they want. So before

syndrome state – actually self-report a

needs to be greater understanding of brain

making a decision that ends their life – a

relatively high quality of life.

death – both by healthcare professionals

decision that by definition is irreversible –

and the general public. There needs to be

we should do everything possible to ensure

people who care about you and with whom

an awareness of its subtlety, complexity and

that’s what they would want, if they could

you can interact in a rudimentary way

the need to have highly trained professionals

tell us.

(talking, listening, etc.), life is worth living,

The implication of Zach’s story is that there

For most people, so long as there are

even if extremely disabled. Technology is

(such as neurologists) make the diagnosis over a period of time. The pressure to obtain

Why devote the end of your book to

now making it possible to communicate

harvestable organs reinforces the impression

scientific research and treatment?

with neurologically disabled individuals in a

that an abundance of caution is warranted in making these diagnoses.

Because the research and treatment of severe neurological disabilities – such as

manner inconceivable only a decade ago. As this technology improves, I think

the persistent vegetative state, the locked-

a lot of people will be forced to redefine

In your book, doctors don’t come across

in syndrome and the newly discovered

their preferences for end-of-life care, in

as the best advocates for people facing

minimally conscious state – reveal that our

a manner that expresses preference for

life and death questions. Who, then, is?

understanding of the brain is, currently,

continuation, rather than discontinuation,

The patients and the patients’ loved ones

rudimentary at best. Because the legal

of life support. Eventually, this will create

are the best advocates, by far. They are in

definition of death has been expanded in

financial pressures that will force American

the best position to be objective and have

the last 50 years to include brain death, it’s

society to engage in a substantive dialogue

appropriate knowledge about the patient’s

critically important that we understand what

about healthcare rationing. How America

values and preferences.

brain death is and what it isn’t.

resolves this pressure is anyone’s guess,

As well-meaning as doctors and other

As it’s turning out, there are many more

and will certainly be related to the extent to

healthcare professionals may be, they

people with some awareness of their

which government pays for our health care.

don’t have the same degree of objectivity

surroundings than previously understood.

So stay tuned. I know I will.

10 | WINTER 2011-12


Artfully Engaged By Martin Haro ’05

This year, FIU demonstrated its commitment to community engagement through the arts, encouraging students and friends to participate in several creative initiatives. Throughout the summer, FIU worked with hundreds of people of all ages on its Worlds Ahead Mural and Ship of Tolerance projects, as well as The Art of Giving program.


Worlds Ahead Mural Project

was an initiative of the FIU Art &

Art History Department, the Miami Moving the Lives of Kids (MLK) Community Mural Project, Pi Kappa Alpha and Miami Children’s Hospital. About 50 people took part in the project, including FIU Art & Art History students and faculty, Pi Kappa Alpha brothers and children in the Frost Art Museum’s Cultural Arts & Community Service 2011 Youth Summer Camp. They worked on a large mural that was donated to the hospital’s Urgent Care Center. The project, which got underway last June, transformed a 9-foot-by-4-foot blank piece of plywood into a representation of Florida’s official flora and fauna, inspired by the Everglades. Left: Gabriel Velasquez was among the Pi Kappa Alpha brothers who helped the kids in the Frost’s summer camp paint the Worlds Ahead mural in the Graham Center Pit at Modesto A. Maidique Campus. Middle: Among the key players working on the Miami MLK Community Mural Project were MFA student Edward Rossel De Jongh; project volunteer Alexandry Douyon, a Poinciana Park Elementary art teacher; Katia Danilova Narciso; and project volunteer Luzalma Gonzalez. Right: St. Timothy Parish School student Victoria Torres works on the mural in the GC Pit.

The goal was to evoke hope and healing through FIU’s five strategic values: truth, freedom, respect, responsibility and excellence. The mural is permanently – and prominently – displayed in the Urgent Care Center of Miami Children’s West Kendall Outpatient Center. Thirty-two students in Art & Art History visiting lecturer Gretchen Scharnagl’s drawing class produced an additional two murals inspired by a visit to Pinecrest Gardens last spring. Those murals are on display in the hallways of the first floor at Miami Children’s Hospital’s South Miami location.

Continues next page WINTER 2011-12 | 11

FIU’s participation in the

Ship of Tolerance project was the result of a

partnership between the university and the Wolfgang Roth + Partners Fine Art Gallery. Children enrolled in the Frost’s summer camp worked with FIU students, faculty and gallery representatives on this special endeavor that celebrated our diversity. These children and other kids from throughout Miami designed and painted hundreds of sailing canvas squares that were displayed around the city. The colorful squares were shown at the Conrad Miami on Brickell Avenue and in Miami Beach during Art Basel, at Smith & Wollensky and The Setai. The ship itself was docked behind the Miami Children’s Museum. Previous versions of the Ship of Tolerance have been completed in Siwa, Egypt; Venice, Italy; and St. Moritz, Switzerland. The project was the brainchild of international artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, and its mission is to bring a message of tolerance and peace to the world. Everyone who participated became an “Ambassador of Tolerance.”

Top Left: The kids who participated in the Frost’s Cultural Arts & Community Service 2011 Youth Summer Camp were encouraged to express their thoughts on the theme of tolerance on paper before they started painting the ship’s sail. Top Right: Students painted hundreds of canvas squares such as these. Bottom: A model of the Ship of Tolerance was on display at the Frost through September. Among the people overseeing the project were Gretchen Scharnagl, a visiting lecturer in the FIU Department of Art + Art History, Dominique Breard, gallery manager at Wolfgang Roth + Partners Fine Art Gallery, and Murdock MacKenzie, the gallery’s director of Sales and Marketing.

12 | WINTER 2011-12 12 | WINTER 2011-12

Top Left: This is a small sampling of the more than 750 colorful pairs of Converse sneakers created through the TAG Project and delivered to three orphanages and a pediatric hospital in Haiti over the summer. Top Right: Approximately 80 pairs of decorated Converse shoes were distributed at a local church in Zanglais, a small rural community in the southern part of Haiti. Bottom: Andrew Roisman (far right) was among the Pi Kappa Alpha brothers who hosted and participated in a TAG event at the Overtown Youth Center last May. He encouraged kids like Fabian Bell (left) and Harrry DeRolus, both of whom are enrolled in the center’s after-school program, to channel their creativity onto the sneakers.

The Art of Giving (TAG) initiative was born in professor Jacek Kolasinski’s art classes last spring during Diversity Week to promote global awareness. As the new chair of FIU’s Art & Art History Department, Kolasinski reached out to the Frost Art Museum and took the project into the community. FIU students and community members gathered at more than a dozen locations around Miami – in collaboration with the Overtown Youth Center, the Little Haiti Cultural Center and The Institute of Black Family Life, among others – to decorate hundreds of donated Converse sneakers with original art. The sneakers were distributed to Haitian institutions throughout the summer. Last May, Pilar Martin, a professor in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, delivered some of those sneakers to the children of the Rose Mina de Diegue Orphanage in Port-Au-Prince. A second trip in July delivered more than 750 pairs of sneakers to three Haitian orphanages and a pediatric hospital.


WINTER 2011-12 | 13 WINTER 2011-12 | 13

14 | WINTER 2011-12

Photos by Angel Valentin

A Beautiful Mess

Miami-Dade County’s Teacher of the Year is a voice and advocate for special needs students.

classroom, as well as promoting both social County employees observed several classes, and Grana was interviewed multiple and employable skills. Grana also founded After three years of teaching intellectually the Southwest Pantry to assist the needy times. When asked to describe himself in disabled children, Agustin Grana ’00 quit. and impoverished in the Southwest High one word, the special ed teacher said he His students – 14 to 22 years old – School community by providing them with could do it in two – “beautiful mess.” showed little academic progress. He was donated food and clothing. “A beautiful mess describes me, as well frustrated and worn out. Grana, who was Javier Gonzalez, 19, has been in Grana’s as my kids,” he says. “We’re messy, but at educated in Catholic schools, found himself class two years. His mom, Yamila, says the same time God allows us to participate asking God why he was wasting his talents. in this beautiful task of educating these kids, Grana is a blessing to her family. “I don’t The Miami native spent the following loving and caring for them, being almost like have words to express how grateful I am, year teaching more advanced students at nor how good a teacher he is.” a surrogate parent.” Southwest Miami High. Every once in a Javier, who arrived from Cuba in 2009, Grana has now been teaching for more while he’d run into former students in the had previously rejected school completely. than 10 years. He carries out his instruction hall. They’d give him a big hug and tell him Now he wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to get to in a trailer on the west side of the high how much they missed him. At the end of class early. He asked to go to summer the school year, the principal school classes with Grana. And, as a asked if he would return to his result, his math skills have improved so former position. radically that, for the first time, he was Grana realized he missed the placed in a regular math class. students and had an awakening In 2010, Grana completed a master’s about his real purpose as an degree in divinity at Miami International educator. Seminary. Today he sees his job as “I was looking at this as a more of a ministry than a paycheck. waste of time when really it’s an “Each and every day is a clean slate. opportunity to serve,” says the They accept me the same way I accept FIU special education graduate. them. It’s given me the opportunity to He returned to the classroom One of Agustin Grana’s students is Javier Gonzalez, a 19-year-old young man who look at life differently. he had left. His students have a came from Cuba two years ago. “People have been very patient with range of challenges and abilities. me,” adds Grana, the youngest of six kids. school. His lessons are simple: Which way Some hold jobs or are in work-training “They’ve been compassionate with me. is north? How much is $5? But they’re programs, others have difficulty taking care How can I turn around and not be so with essential for his students to survive in the of their own basic needs. them?” real world. In a ceremony at the Doral Golf Resort Grana celebrates the minor victories. The responsibility is daunting. “As a and Spa Feb. 23, Grana was named the Patience and flexibility are key. You may teacher of special ed, there’s not much 2012 Francisco R. Walker Miami-Dade have the perfect lesson plan but you need homework,” says Grana. “But at the end County Teacher of the Year. He was chosen to adjust based on the circumstances. A of the day, I carry home not just how the from seven finalists nominated from each good day is when students are helping each day went, but whether we have prepared of the district’s five regions, one from the other and showing respect. “The day may them for what is ahead.” Education Transformation Office and one not go perfectly, but I know progress was Work training is critical for his students. from Alternative Education. made,” he says. To address their needs, Grana founded Former Southwest Principal James Haj The 2012 Teacher of the Year hopes CLAW (Community, Living and Working) – called Grana “the voice and advocate” for people see his students’ ability rather than a student-operated school business that his students. “His goal is to ensure that his just their disability. He hopes they realize students with special needs receive the best washes faculty and staff cars during school hours. The program serves the dual purpose these kids, regardless of their disability, possible education,” Haj said. deserve the very best education possible. n of reinforcing academic skills learned in the The nomination process was extensive. By Sissi Aguila ’99, MA ’08

WINTER 2011-12 | 15

Photo by Angel Valentin

22 | WINTER 2011-12

Darden Pyron Professor of History and Founding Faculty


RIDDLES I determined years ago to write a book that even the most prejudiced reviewers would have to take seriously – even to the point of revealing their prejudices and bigotry.


The left-liberal New York Review of Books gave

my Margaret Mitchell biography the lead review and took 2,500 words to explain how wrong

wrong wrong it was. Mission accomplished. More the New Yorker? At least

fancy-pants Manhattanites at

the reviewer there seemed to read the entire Liberace book.


you ask? The piano player? A book about him?

Did I

answer those questions a score of times when I took on that project! If nobody asks the question about my current project on the Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, just wait until they see my conclusions. This, in part, is what the academy is about – it is also what tenure is about: to


the time to study things that other folks ignore. It involves looking at something as familiar as a Las Vegas performer, complicate the matter properly, and then offer an answer to your own riddles. The cultivation of ideas

We take things apart and literally “rethink” them back together to make some lies behind our titles of “doctors of philosophy.”

new form. Sometimes our theories might come in a flash – Newton and his apple, the physicist Niels Bohr watching

dancing flames of an open fire. More

commonly, we come by our ideas through plodding and hard work and even mind-numbing investigation of data – we fit this evidence with that, trying this

Making sense of the whole is what the enterprise is all about.

combination, then another, before the whole begins to make sense.

Be WorldsAhead WINTER 2011-12 | 23

2011 Solar Decathlon

Students bring to life a vision for sustainable building at international competition

Team FIU built the perFORM[D]ance House in Washington, D.C., in just five days. Photos by Jim Tetro/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

house used with its solar array. Overall, FIU

when we explained how the house worked,”

placed 11th, defeating Team China, Team

said Deana Sritalapat, who invested two

Marilys Nepomechie and a group of FIU

New York and Team New Jersey, among

years in the project and earned her master’s

students conceived a home design perfect

others. FIU competed on its own, but several

degree in architecture from FIU last summer.

for South Florida – one that could get all its

other teams were partnerships among

“A lot of people were inspired by it, and

energy from the sun. Last fall, they traveled to

institutions from a country or state – including

it was nice to see our hard work affecting

Washington, D.C., and built that house for a

Team Florida, which comprised the University

somebody like that.”

world-renowned competition: the 2011 U.S.

of Florida, Florida State University, the

Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon.

University of South Florida and the University

the Solar Decathlon in 2002, and FIU first

of Central Florida. Team Florida placed last

competed in 2005. The prestigious biennial

overall. The University of Maryland won.

competition challenges more than 4,000

By Melia Sandler Two years ago, architecture professor

“I’m really excited to represent FIU on such an international stage,” said Nepomechie, noting this is the second time FIU has been invited to compete. FIU, one of 20 teams from around the world invited this year, tied for first place for energy balance, producing all the power the

24 | WINTER 2011-12

The Department of Energy first held

During the decathlon, the team saw 2,500

students from around the world. The goal is

to 4,000 visitors a day. The contest was held

to prepare and inspire tomorrow’s architects

in West Potomac Park near the National Mall

and engineers and to show the world

in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23-Oct. 2.

comfortable, cost-efficient, “green” housing.

“It was great to see people’s faces light up

Teams demonstrated “how clean-energy

products and efficient building design can help families and businesses reduce energy use and save money,” U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. FIU students put in 10- to 20-hour days in the final months preparing their home for competition, said Alvaro Gazo ’09, who worked on FIU’s house for 18 months. He graduated with his master’s degree in architecture last summer but continued to volunteer until the house was complete. FIU’s team united several disciplines. Nepomechie, the team’s faculty advisor, and student project manager Andy Madonna led a diverse group of more than 40 architecture, engineering, interior design, computer science, landscape architecture and journalism students. FIU’s multidisciplinary design and construction team envisioned and built what they call the “perFORM[D]ance House.” The 780-square-foot home (with a 1,500-squarefoot porch/pavilion) was designed for a fictional wheelchair user and her husband. “It’s named perFORM[D]ance because the house is able to adapt to the needs of the user,” said Ryan Reznichek, who earned his master’s degree in construction management in May and stayed on to finish the house. “It actually performs and dances to the subtropical conditions in Florida,” complete with customized louvers that provide shade, security and protection from hurricane-force winds. Among its amenities are an edible garden, lights and electrical systems that can be controlled by a smart phone, and solar panels that convert the sun’s energy into electricity and heat water. Judges ranked the homes in these 10 categories: architecture, market appeal, engineering, communications,

“These are not supposed to be the houses of the future. They are the houses of today,” Nepomechie said. Energy-efficient living “needs to be something that everyone does. The Solar Decathlon is a way of showing people that it is possible.” FIU’s house was designed and built for fast and easy assembly and disassembly. Each of the home’s two main areas – a dining room/ living room section and a kitchen/bed/bath/ mechanical module – fit on the back of a flatbed truck. Ultimately, it took three months to build the whole house working in three-hour shifts with a crew of 10 people, Gazo said. Then the team took it apart so it could be trucked to D.C. for the competition. There, the team had five days to rebuild it. “It was a good experience,” said Sritalapat.

The FIU Solar Decathlon house was made possible by the open-handed generosity of many sponsors. Among them were

“I don’t know if we’ve ever been so

our consultants­—SKANSKA, MC Harry &

exhausted, but I also don’t think we’ve ever

Associates, PMM Consulting Engineers,

done something so rewarding.”

Project Caine Consulting Engineers and BNI

Following the Solar Decathlon, the

Consulting Engineers, all of whom provided

perFORM[D]ance house will continue to

their professional services to the project

serve as a model for sustainable living at

pro-bono. n

maintaining comfortable temperature, hot

FIU. It has become the permanent home

water, appliances, home entertainment, energy

of the FIU Office of Sustainability at the

Melia Sandler is a writer who lives in the

balance and – a new category – affordability.

Modesto A. Maidique Campus.

Washington, D.C., area.

WINTER 2011-12 | 25


The Karatassos siblings, Pano Jr. ’93, Ann ’92 and Niko ’98, often share good times at the table at home, as well as at the Buckhead Diner, one of their family’s Atlanta restaurants.


t’s Sunday morning and the Karatassos family kitchen is

from their father how to prepare a gourmet menu, all from

prepped. Handpicked herbs and vegetables sit on the counter

scratch. Every detail, from the slicing of an onion to the garnish

waiting to be chopped and diced. Pots crackle over the heat

on the baked fish, is fine-tuned to perfection. Meanwhile the

anticipating the freshest ingredients.

Karatassos women, mother Georgia and daughter Ann, are busy

The two boys in this family of five join their father, Pano Karatassos, Sr., in the kitchen. Sons Pano and Niko will learn 26 | WINTER 2011-12

in the dining room. They set the table with white linens, fine china and crystal stemware.

Niko enjoys a cup of coffee at Bistro Niko, which serves modern French fare in the heart of Buckhead.

Reminiscent of the finest restaurants in Paris, this has been the Karatassos’

fine-dining experience for the public that

worked with him in Missouri. Ten years

they have long cherished at home.

later, the friends opened Pano’s & Paul’s, the flagship fine-dining restaurant that

Sunday family tradition for more than 30 years.

From an early age, the Karatassos

Today, the Karatassos family is

children all knew they wanted to be

brought national attention to Atlanta’s culinary scene. As a child, Ann enjoyed watching Pano

synonymous with fine dining in Atlanta,

part of the restaurant company their

Ga. Pano Sr. is the founder and CEO of

father was building. “We talk about the

Sr. work at Pano’s & Paul’s. Her first job

the Buckhead Life Group – 14 restaurants

restaurants as a family,” Ann says. “It’s a

was helping her dad’s assistant confirm

in the area, each with its own style,

big part of our lives.”

reservations. “I loved everything about the restaurant business. I never

atmosphere and flavor. Pano Jr., Niko and Ann, all graduates of FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, each play a role in Buckhead’s success. Pano Jr. is the master chef of the renowned Kyma restaurant. Niko oversees

“FIU opened my eyes to the human resources side of running a restaurant. It gave me all the facets of the industry.”

books for the company.

else,” she says. Knowing she would work in the restaurant industry, Ann looked for a university that blended academic instruction with hands-on experience. She discovered

all the restaurants as Buckhead’s director of operations, and Ann keeps the

considered doing anything

As a youngster, their father Pano Sr.,

FIU after she heard from industry insiders

worked with his father, a first-generation

that FIU’s hospitality program was the

Greek immigrant who ran a restaurant

best in the country. Her brothers followed

has earned their restaurants wide acclaim:

food-import business called Pano’s Food

in her footsteps.

Food & Wine, Esquire, Gourmet and The

Shop in Savannah. After working in the

New York Times have all ranked their

Navy’s food department, Pano Sr. attended

resources side of running restaurants,”

restaurants among the best locally and

the renowned Culinary Institute of America.

says Niko. “It gave me all the facets of the

The family’s serious devotion to food

nationally for more than 20 years. On a grand scale, they have recreated the same

He met chef Paul Albrecht in 1968 while working in Washington, D.C., and later

“FIU opened my eyes to the human

industry.” After college, each found their niche within Buckhead. Continues next page WINTER 2011-12 | 27

Pano Jr. and Crystal Hoang plate his herb-crusted white tuna, a popular item on the menu at the renowned Kyma restaurant.

As the eldest son, Pano Jr. first learned the art of preparing a fine meal from

went up. And she’d smell everything!” In honor of his grandmother, Pano

chef Eric Ripert at the Michelin 3-Star Le Bernardin in Manhattan.

his father and maternal grandmother,

brings the same attention to detail to his

Athanasia, who came to live with the family

restaurant, Kyma. “It’s about bringing

in Greek, to fill a void in Atlanta’s fine dining

when he was 10. After school, the budding

everything up to the highest level you can.”

scene. Unlike other local Greek restaurants,

chef would help grandma cook for the day,

After graduating from FIU, Pano Jr., like

In 2001, Pano Jr. opened Kyma, “wave”

Kyma features upscale Greek food

and prep the kitchen for the next day much

his father, attended the Culinary Institute

prepared using the techniques of French

like a chef at a restaurant would. At the

of America. He trained one year as saucier

culinary masters.

local grocery store, she paid close attention

under chef Thomas Keller at the Michelin

to the freshness of the food, like everyone

3-Star French Laundry in Napa Valley and

of attention for the restaurant. Kyma was

did in her homeland of Greece.

Chef Pano’s cooking has garnered a lot

two years as saucier under chef Jean-

named one of the Top 20 restaurants in the

“Here we are at Kroger’s,” says Pano.

Georges Vongerichten at the Michelin

country by Esquire in 2002 and has been

“She’d ask the bag boy when the fish had

3-Star Jean-Georges in New York City.

featured in Wine Spectator, Cooking Light,

come in or why the price of vegetables

He also spent two-and-a-half years under

Gourmet and In Style magazines.

28 | WINTER 2011-12

White Tuna: Herb crusted white tuna, quinoa salad, red wine vinaigrette.

Spicy Lamb Pie:

Kefalograviera cheese baked in filo, baby arugula, kalamata olive salad.

Horiatiki Salad:

Tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, peppers, feta cheese.

Prepared by Chef Pano from the Kyma menu

The success of Kyma has been echoed by Bistro Niko, a French neighborhood restaurant that opened in 2009. Esquire

level, from how we prepare the food to

Niko carries on the family tradition of

how we serve it.”

Sunday dinners, cooking for his wife

The company maintains a family

Bronni and two children, Ignace, 6, and Christian, 4.

said, “Any skeptic who questions whether

environment with employees, nurturing

the south – which of late has come into

talent, promoting from within and rarely

its own as a cradle of intensely personal,

recruiting from outside. “Our general

Oldest son Pano, 10, makes a fantastic

adventurous cooking with indigenous

managers move up from servers,” he

omelet; Lucas, 7, makes pasta from

ingredients – is ready for a serious French

says. “They’ve been working with us 10,

scratch; and Sophia, 4, helps her brother

bistro should try to get a table on short

15, 20 years and get the company culture.

roll out the dough. “It’s not uncommon

notice at Niko.”

They believe in us.”

to start the morning out in our house with

Bistro Niko gets its name from the

For years, it was Ann who worked at the

youngest Karatassos, Niko. He is the

company’s headquarters as the director

businessman of the family, but you won’t

of strategic development. More recently,

find him behind a desk. He says you can’t

she scaled back her work to raise her

run a restaurant company from corporate

two daughters, Georgia and Alexandra,

headquarters. He’s in the restaurants

but she still takes care of the company’s

every day working with the managers

payroll. She says it offers the perfect

and chefs.

balance. “I still feel included – a part of

“My role in the restaurants is keeping

the things, a part of the family.”

impeccable customer service at every

a pound of dough on the counter,” Pano Jr. jokes. “Growing up in a Greek family there is serious devotion to food and family get togethers,” he says. “Food has always been a big part of our lives.” They all enjoy getting together in the family restaurants. Ann’s children often celebrate birthdays at Kyma. And her

everyone excited and working toward a single goal,” Niko says. “We’re about

Pano Jr. is teaching his children to cook.

The Karatassos siblings are passing on their love of food to the next generation.

daughters Georgia, 9, and Alexandra, 11, order their favorite dish – octopus.


WINTER 2011-12 | 29

Reflecting on 9-11 Students examine the historical importance of the 2001 terrorist attacks

In September, FIU’s Global Learning for Global Citizenship initiative and The New York Times sponsored a student essay contest designed to make students reflect on and think deeply about the legacy of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. Students were asked to frame their essays as responses to historian Joseph Ellis’ 2006 New York Times op-ed piece titled “Finding a Place for 9-11 in American History.” They were asked to critically analyze Ellis’ contention that 9-11, while significant, was not in the top tier of truly significant events in history. The contest yielded more than 50 entries that were reviewed by a panel of judges including Honors College Fellow and journalism professor Frederick Blevens, Global Learning Director Hilary Landorf, Global Learning Associate Director Stephanie Doscher, journalism professor Moses Shumow and FIU Magazine editor Deborah O’Neil. First place went to Frederico Armando, an international relations major born in New York and raised in Brazil. What follows here is Armando’s winning essay.

Photo from the Arianna Caroli collection of American flag images displayed at FIU to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

By Frederico Armando

An analysis of Richard Ellis’s article “Finding a Place for 9/11 in American History” reveals that the historical importance Americans have placed on the 9/11 attacks may have been exaggerated, as was the reaction to such attacks by the United States. Ellis looks at the 9/11 phenomenon from a historian’s perspective and does what most Americans haven’t yet been able to do: to analyze the 9/11 attacks in an objective manner and put it into an appropriate historical context. For most in the United States, those terrorist attacks still figure prominently in their minds as the event that changed everything; the wound that still won’t heal. It is the event that marked this generation and is remembered alongside the assassination of JFK and the Pearl Harbor attacks as transformative events in U.S. history. One of the assertions that Ellis makes in his article is that the 9/11 attacks are not that important as events that threatened 30 | WINTER 2011-12

national security. Although those attacks clearly showed the vulnerability of a superpower and practically ended the erroneous post-Cold War notion that the United States was somehow impervious to an attack, it simply did not represent a serious threat to the survival of the United States as a country or to the American way of life. In as much as it changed the way Americans viewed national security and destroyed the old realist ideas of power, 9/11 can indeed be considered a game changer. Americans suffered an attack in their own soil and when the wave of patriotism ended and a response was called for, there was no state to retaliate against. The concept of asymmetrical warfare made itself clear as the United States scrambled to find an enemy on which revenge could be sought. Richard Ellis appropriately places the response to the 9/11 attacks along such radical and exaggerated measures as the internment of Japanese-Americans

during World War II and the McCarthy era in the 1950s. Perhaps the 9/11 wound is still too new for Americans to analyze it objectively. The wave of patriotism that immediately followed the attacks united the country in an unprecedented way, but also had the unforeseen effect of stifling those opinions that dissented from the administration’s unilateral and radical response. All of a sudden, it became unpatriotic to not want to bomb Afghanistan or to think of Islam as anything other than an extremist, hatemongering religion. In many respects, Americans still live in the shadow of 9/11; it not only has unnecessarily dictated American foreign policy for the past ten years, but also obfuscated the fact that there were – and still are – real grievances in the Arab world regarding American actions in the Middle East. It may be that the actual game changer was not the 9/11 attacks themselves, but rather the American response to them. n

from the Alumni Association President Dear Friends and Family, During the last eight years, the FIU Alumni Association has been transformed into one of the fastest growing in the United States under the leadership of Bill Draughon. He’s brought the long-term vision and the patience needed to build a thriving alumni program. Bill is now taking on a critical new role for FIU that will help the alumni effort progress even further. As an associate vice president in Advancement, Bill will be leading the fundraising campaign for the new Alumni Center and will develop and oversee the Alumni Association’s travel programs. Duane Wiles will serve as the interim executive director of the Alumni Association as we launch a national search. Duane has worked alongside Bill for the last eight years as the associate executive director, so the Alumni Association remains in good hands. He has the full support of the Alumni Association Board of Directors moving forward. As Bill transitions into his new role, I would like to thank him for his hard work and recognize his many accomplishments. I would also like to thank him for being a tireless advocate for the importance of alumni engagement. When Bill began as executive director, FIU was just beginning to understand the importance and power of alumni to the university’s future. Bill educated many and helped the university grow. In recognition of his many contributions to FIU, the Alumni Association voted in October to make him an FIU honorary alumnus. As the executive director of the association, Bill made his mark by developing countless new programs and enhancing existing ones to bring together alumni, family and friends of the university. Among them: the VIP feature in the back of FIU Magazine, the Torch Awards, the Golden Panther Getaways travel programs, the FIU Panther Pit Tailgate. He grew the Alumni Relations staff from three to 11 and has overseen the establishment of new alumni chapters around the world, most recently in China. What he has always done best, however, is build relationships. Growing the Alumni Association membership from 1,000 to 18,000 involved a lot of handshaking, personal contacts and grassroots engagement. This is where Bill has excelled. He takes a personal interest in everyone he meets. That quality was instrumental in developing the Alumni Association and will continue to serve him well in his fundraising efforts. I have relied on Bill’s experience and ability to get things done throughout my time as president. I’m pleased that Bill has agreed to take on the next big challenge for the Alumni Association: getting our Alumni Center built. He’s off to a good start. Bill has already raised nearly $1 million for the Alumni Center. With gratitude and congratulations,

Jack González ’97

FIU 2011-’12 Alumni Association Board Executive Committee Joaquín “Jack” F. González ’97 President Gonzalo Acevedo ’91, MBA ’10 Vice President Ariana Fajardo, Esq. ’93 Secretary Sharon Fine ’99, MS ’11 Treasurer Gabriel Albelo ’93 Parliamentarian Ralph Rosado ’96, MA ’03 Governmental Relations Officer José M. Pérez de Corcho ’93 Past President

Officers Gus Alfonso ’02 Chi Ali ’00 Stewart L. Appelrouth MBA ’80 Ricardo C. Cabrera ’94 Lilian T. Chiu ’00 Elizabeth Cross ’89 Isabel C. Díaz, Esq. ’01 Cynthia J. Dienstag, Esq. ’83 Marlon Font ’04 Anastasia García ’89 Jorge F. Hernández ’95 Michael A. Hernández ’04, MPA ’11 Eduardo Hondal ’88, MS ’00 Samuel C. Jackson MPA ’90 Jaime N. Machado ’01, MBA ’10 Michael P. Maher ’97 Ana L. Martínez, CPA MAcc. ’92 Franklin Gentle McCune ’05, MS ’08 Michael R. Méndez ’03, MA ’10 Alberto Padrón ’98, MBA ’09 Frank Javier Peña ’99 Enrique Piñeiro ’03 Alicia María Robles ’98 José Roces ’03 A. Celina Saucedo ’99, MPA ’11

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S n a p s h o t s i n E x ce l l e n ce f r o m U . S . C e n t u r y B a n k A r e n a

Modernizing for the future

The renovations of the U.S. Century Bank Arena will bring renewed life to a facility that has been the scene of many great moments in FIU history since it opened 25 years ago. Slated to open in early 2012, the newly modernized U.S. Century Bank Arena will benefit thousands of FIU students for years to come. Through our partnership with FIU, U.S. Century Bank is proud to support public higher education in South Florida.

Florida International University and

Partners in Education

Alumni celebrate accomplishments at Silver Pride Reunion

By Blanca Morales ’11 When Catherine McManus ’86 played on FIU’s tennis team 25 years ago, she was not a Panther; she was a Sunblazer. There is no denying that FIU has changed significantly in the last two decades. Those who graduated in 1986 and earlier marveled at the changes 25-plus years have brought to FIU when they gathered on Homecoming Day, Oct. 1, for the 2011 Silver Pride Reunion. More than 200 alumni attended the luncheon and Silver Pride induction ceremony. They came from South Florida and as far as Massachussets. Alumni were invited to reminisce, become reacquainted with classmates and journey back to a time when FIU’s potential was in its early stages. It was 1986 when Modesto Maidique, for whom the south campus is now named, became the university’s fourth president. That year, FIU changed the university’s mascot from the Sunblazer to the more fearsome Golden Panther. Rocco Angelo, associate dean and professor at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, recalled how Maidique asked him to find a real panther for the big announcement. Angelo had all but determined that to be impossible when he discovered someone who had a pet panther.

Angelo told the alumni that he is, in fact, Roary’s godfather. Founding faculty member Stephen Fain encouraged the gathered alumni to “keep the FIU spirit alive.” “When you leave here today, and people ask who you are, you say, ‘I am FIU.’ Knowing who we are in a community is special,” he said. He demonstrated his deep-rooted love for FIU by dedicating a song to the university. Re-wording the lyrics to an old tune, he sang, “Viva la, viva la, viva l’amour…viva la FIU!” Many of the alumni present spoke of their gratefulness for the university’s contribution to their lives. Jorge A. Porras, Esq. ’86 is a lawyer who came from Boston for the Silver Pride Reunion. He still fondly remembers all those who supported him during his time at FIU. “I remember professor James Huchingson,” he said. “He was so helpful to me.” Another alumnus, Howard Cohen ’87, a business major, remembers that writing for FIU’s student newspaper, The Beacon, helped him find his vocation in journalism. Through the Beacon he found out about a job opening at The Miami Herald. He has now been writing for the Herald for 20 years.

“We’re here to bask in the glory of all we’ve accomplished together,” said President Mark B. Rosenberg to the alumni, updating them on FIU’s latest triumphs. Among them: College of Law graduates achieved the highest pass rate in Florida on the July 2011 bar exam. Catherine McManus ’86, who had just moved back to Florida after living in Maryland, said she particularly looked forward to exploring the campus, which to her seemed like an entirely different place than she remembered. Fellow-inductee Deann Patterson ’86, who had not returned since graduation, found the campus “unrecognizable.” She remembers when the university began building the residence halls. “Now it’s a whole city,” she said. Patterson also said that her time at FIU prepared her for her future. With her degree in hospitality management, Patterson went on to become a broker agent, a business owner and volunteer for her community’s citizen’s crime watch and emergency response team. “Having a degree gives you strength,” she said.


Writer Blanca Morales graduated from FIU in December 2011 with a degree in religious studies.

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Class Notes 1970s Percy L. Ransom Ph.D. ’74, is the pastor of Miami’s

Business, Marketing and Management Development.

Cosmopolitan Baptist Church, where he has served since its inception in 1988. Ransom and his wife, Purnel, have

Art Canales ’87 recently published his third book, A Noble Quest: Cultivating Spirituality in Catholic Adolescents. Canales lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife and two children.

four children.

Maurice Donovan Taylor ’78, a member of the FIU varsity soccer teams from 1976-’78, is a construction worker with The Power of Faith Ministries. He previously worked with the City of Miami’s Public Works Department. Raquel M. Roque ’78, a self-described “accidental cook,” recently published her new cookbook, The Cuban Kitchen, a collection of more than 500 recipes she has been amassing since her twenties. It expands on her Spanishlanguage 2007 tome, Cocina Cubana: 350 Recetas Criollas, and includes recipes for the traditional dishes she grew up enjoying, such as croquetas and arroz con pollo. Roque is the owner of the Downtown Book Store.

1980s Barbara Y. Debesa, CPA ’82, M.Acc. ’94, joined Sunstate Bank, a Miami-Dade community bank with $173 million in assets, in July as senior vice president and chief operating officer. Debesa was designated a Certified Sarbanes Oxley Expert by the Sarbanes Oxley Compliance Professional Association in March.

Jose Leiman, Esq. ’82, a licensed CPA in Florida, joined PwC US as a partner in PwC’s Miami-based Latin American tax practice.

Abel O. Adekola ’83 recently was named dean of the College of Management at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Adekola, who has taught at UW-Stout since 1995, had been serving as interim dean for the college, and was hired after a national search, assuming his duties in July. While at the university, he has been a Fulbright scholar, received an Oxford University Roundtable Fellowship and a Wisconsin Teaching Fellowship, and was a senior distinguished fellow of the Academy of World

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Joe Mellia ’86 recently was named general manager of the historic Hanover Inn at Dartmouth College. Mellia brings 25 years of service and experience in the hospitality industry to his new position. Cecilia P. Arboleda ’88 is an awardwinning photographer whose work – which focuses heavily on her native Colombia and the country’s mestizo culture – has been featured in solo and group exhibitions, as well as private collections in the United States, Spain and Latin America. Callum Gibb ’89 recently was appointed to a two-year term on the Coral Gables Board of Architects. The former FIU golf team member is the principal of Callum Gibb Architect, P.A, which is based in Coral Gables. Luis Mier ’89 is the new chief financial officer for Navarro Discount Pharmacy. Mier brings more than 20 years of experience in the retail and food and beverage industries to his role with the largest Hispanic-owned pharmacy chain in the United States.

Joe Rooney MS ’89 recently published his first novel, The Flying Hound, which follows a man’s journey of self-discovery through Ireland. The book is available on iTunes and Mercedes Sellek ’89 joined the law firm of Abadin Cook as a partner. She is a transactional attorney who practices commercial and residential real estate law, development and finance, banking, environmental and land use law, as well as general corporate matters.

Tony Argiz ’74 was named 2011 Alumnus of the Year by the FIU School of Accounting at its 2nd Annual Awards Banquet last spring. The chairman and CEO of Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC, Argiz is the former chair of the university’s Council of 100 and currently serves on the university’s Foundation Board and the School of Accounting Advisory Board. He was honored as an individual who has achieved distinction in the accounting field and is a significant contributor to the College of Business Administration. “To be recognized by one’s alma mater is particularly pleasing,” he said. “It strengthens the bonds with my fellow alumni in a special way that other awards don’t.” Under Argiz’s leadership, Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra has become one of the top 40 accounting firms in the nation and the largest independent Florida-based accounting firm in the state. Well known for his industry and community leadership, he is a highly respected and nationally recognized practitioner with more than 30 years of experience specializing in litigation support services. In addition to his contributions to FIU, the 2007 FIU Entrepreneurship Hall-of-Famer gives time to organizations including the Beacon Council, the Orange Bowl Committee and United Way Miami-Dade County.

Alumni Association Member

1990s Yocelyn Galiano Gómez ’90, MS ’95 was unanimously confirmed as Pinecrest’s new village manager in July. She previously served as assistant village manager from 2009-2011 and from 1996-2004, and also has held publicservice positions in Doral and Key Biscayne.

Frank González ’90 was appointed president of the South Florida Banking Institute for the 2011-’12 fiscal year. Gonzalez is principal in the Audit Department at Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC, where he leads financial institutions and SEC practices. Jason Poblete ’92 was appointed vice chair of the American Bar Association’s International Law National Security Committee for a one-year term that started in August. Alex Hanna ’94 recently received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for his outstanding service to his community. The Miami-based attorney was honored in Washington, D.C., by fellow Panther U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen ’75, MS ’87, Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart and Sen. Marco Rubio.

See the world with Golden Panther Getaways The FIU Alumni Association’s Golden Panther Getaways is offering alumni trips of a lifetime in 2012. The land journeys include nine days in Normandy and Paris and eight days in Tuscany-Cortona. A 14-day “Treasures of East Africa” getaway will take travelers on safari to Tanzania and Kenya. The “Treasures of India & Nepal” will feature visits to Delhi, the Taj Mahal and Kathmandu. The Peruvian getaway in March will journey to Machu Picchu, Cuzco and the Peruvian market of Chinchero. A variety of departure dates throughout the year are available for the land journeys. Two river journeys are being offered through the waterways and canals of Holland and Belgium in April and the Rhone River in May. And a land and cruise journey through China and the Yangtzee River is being offered in the fall. Visit for details, departure dates and reservations for these exciting Golden Panther Getaways.

Support FIU’s Future. Leave a Legacy.

Make a philanthropic investment that will benefit generations to come and secure your legacy through a planned gift to FIU. Learn about the many ways that you can make a difference, provide for the future and save taxes. Call us at the FIU Planned Giving Office at 305-348-6298 and visit us at

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| 35

Eugene Butler, Jr. MS ’95, an educator for more than two decades, is the principal of Norland Middle School in Miami Gardens. Butler has been a school administrator for more than 15 years and last May, he was selected as the Miami-Dade County Council PTA/PTSA 2010-’11 Paul Bell Principal of the Year. He also was nominated during the last school year for the Florida Art Educators Association’s Outstanding Principal/ Administrator Award. Faith Amon ’96, the owner and creative director of Frecklefoot Creative, a boutique ad agency in Orlando, was selected as one of Orlando’s 40 under 40 by the Orlando Business Journal in August.

Mireidy Fernandez ’98 has joined Jacobs Engineering in Broward County as a public outreach specialist and planner. Jacobs is one of the world’s largest companies providing a full spectrum of services including aerospace defense, infrastructure and biotechnology.

Sharon Fine ’99, treasurer of the Alumni Association Board, received her master’s in finance from FIU during the university’s first summer commencement ceremony last August. Shannon Ford ’99 was crowned Mrs. United States 2011 during the pageant’s silver jubilee last August in Las Vegas. Ford, who lives with Celiac Disease, a lifelong illness that will require her to maintain a gluten-free diet for the rest of her life, is striving to bring more attention to the disease as part of her platform. She is also working for better labeling of the nation’s food supply. Jacqueline G. Hodes, Esq. ’99, a member of the FIU President’s Council, joined DLA Piper’s corporate and securities Miami-based practice, where she focuses on private equity transactions, mergers and acquisitions and general corporate matters.

Celina Saucedo ’99, an officer of the Alumni Association Board, received her master’s in public administration from FIU last spring.

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2000S Lorri (Camueiras) Lores ’01 was accepted into the MFA program at UCF, where she began her studies last fall. Lorenzo Cobiella ’02 joined Fowler White Burnett, P.A., as an associate in the full-service law firm’s downtown Miami office. He will focus on wealth preservation, probate of guardianships, trusts and estates, as well as probate litigation. Cobiella previously worked in the Coral Gables law office of Osvaldo N. Soto and served as a congressional assistant to U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen ’75, MS ’87.

Alexander Binelo, CPA ’03, MS ’05 was elected to the Board of Directors of the Family Resource Center of South Florida. Binelo is a senior manager in the audit department at the public accounting firm of Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC. Katie Clifford ’07 is a health volunteer with the Peace Corps currently on her fourth and final year working, primarily, on malaria prevention activities in the Gambia. Clifford says her experience with the Peace Corps – she is in her second tour with the organization – has given her a better idea of who she is and her place in the world.

Ernesto Alfonso ’11 joined the FIU Federal Relations team in August as an intern for the fall semester. “On my first day, I wrote a letter to Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton,” he said. “That same week, I visited congressional offices on my own – I was knocking on senators’ and representatives’ office doors to introduce myself to their staffers. Everyone loves FIU, and they made me feel right at home.” The first generation Venezuelan-American graduated magna cum laude last May with a degree in international relations and a minor in economics. Among his duties as an intern during the 16-week program were covering the presentation of FIU’s Global Water for Sustainability (GLOWS) Center at Biscayne Bay Campus, as well as the JP Morgan Chase/FIU “Education Effect” partnership at Northwestern Senior High. He also helped coordinate a visit to FIU by the Georgian vice prime minister.

Teresita Fernández ’90 was appointed to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts by President Barack Obama in September. The 2005 MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient joined a panel of seven members that advises the president, Congress and other governmental agencies on national matters of design and aesthetics. Panel members play a key role in shaping Washington’s architecture by approving the site and design of national memorials and museums. In her new role, Fernández and her peers also will advise the U.S. Mint on the design of coins and medals, as well as administer the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program, which benefits nonprofit cultural entities that provide arts programming in Washington. A visual artist best known and recognized for her prominent public sculptures and unconventional use of material, Fernández has received many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Biennal Award and an American Academy in Rome Affiliated Fellowship. In 2007, she graced the cover of the summer issue of FIU Magazine. Fernández lives and works in New York and is represented by the Lehmann Maupin Gallery.


Very Important Panther

Albert Maury ’96, ’02 President and CEO of León Medical Centers Health Plans Chairman, FIU Board of Trustees Lifetime Member, FIU Alumni Association Bachelor’s degrees in business administration and accounting Q. What are your fondest memories of FIU? A. I have many, but one moment that stands out is my second graduation. Seeing my wife and my four kids in the audience cheering me on was great. It was especially significant the second time around because they could see the reward of the sacrifices we made as a family when I was studying late and on weekends and maybe not able to do things with them. My children are all different ages, and some maybe understood more than others at the time, but having them there seeing the culmination of that journey is something that I will always cherish. Q. What or who has been the strongest influence in shaping you as a leader? A. The credit of my early years goes to my mother who instilled in me the values that I have today. Without a doubt however, the strongest influence in my life – the person who shaped me as a leader – is my father-in-law, Benjamín León, Jr. I’ve been consistently inspired by his work ethic, intelligence, leadership, and his ability to instill trust in people. I owe much of my leadership abilities to his role as my mentor and, more importantly, as my father figure. Q. You are the CEO of a large company, yet you devote a great deal of time to FIU. Why have you chosen to be involved? A. I owe a great deal of who I am to FIU and I feel a sense of responsibility to give back to the school that gave so much to me. I am grateful to the institution and to the professors who worked with me and with every student who works and leads a family while studying. That support made it possible for me to make it, so I have chosen to be involved and offer as much as I can to help build FIU into a world-class university. I want all graduates, past and present, to have the same overwhelming sense of pride that I carry so that they, too, can contribute to the success of this institution. Q. As chairman of the Board of Trustees, what are your top priorities for FIU? A. There’s a number of top priorities for FIU, but I’d say my Top 3 are first, that our professional schools stay on the cutting-edge of their disciplines. As the Board of Trustees we are a push and support to the administration that ensures everyone stays at the top of their game. Second, I want to see FIU emerge as our community’s leading public research institution with an emphasis on the science, technology, engineering and math programs. And third, I want FIU to continue in our pursuits in Latin American, Caribbean and Asian studies, with a particular emphasis in China, and for our students to graduate as leaders in those fields of knowledge. Of course, we need to keep the momentum and upward trajectory of our colleges. And we need to ensure that our campuses continue to expand effectively to meet their potential. Q. What is your vision for the future of FIU? A. For FIU to be known around the world as a learner’s haven. I want us to be known as the No. 1 resource locally that also attracts top talent from other countries because of our educators, our research and the experience that students get at FIU. Our goal is to continue to help FIU build its brand as a Worlds Ahead institution. WINTER 2011-12 | 37

Division of External Relations Modesto A. Maidique Campus, MARC 510 Miami, FL 33199-0001 Change Service Requested

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FIU Magazine Winter 2011-2012