Here are five things to know about Florida International University, also known as FIU, where a pedestrian bridge under construction collapsed across Southwest Eighth Street Thursday afternoon:
▪ Whether counting all students or just undergraduates, FIU has the fourth-largest enrollment among the nation’s public universities, a position it’s held the last several years. The main campus, named the Mitch Maidique Campus after the school’s former longtime president, is in western Miami-Dade County, west of the city of Miami proper by about seven miles. The Biscayne Bay Campus, in northeast Miami-Dade and in the city of North Miami, is on 200 acres and has its own dorms.
▪ Though FIU marks its birth year as 1965 when Gov. W. Hayden Burns signed a bill planning for FIU’s existence, the main campus didn’t open until 1972. There was only one real building (Primera Casa) and 6,000 students at the time.
▪ FIU used to be known mainly for its hospitality management program. Now, its educational options are as large as its enrollment. Two big points of pride were the addition of a law school in 2001 and a medical school in 2006.
▪ Athletically, the most accomplished program over the school’s history is men’s soccer, NCAA Division II national champions in 1982 and 1984 and NCAA Division I national runner-up in 1996. More recently, it’s been the women’s Swimming and Diving team. Along with being among the academic leaders of the athletic department, Coach Randy Horner’s program just won its fourth consecutive Conference USA championship. It ranks No. 31 in CollegeSwimming.com's overall rankings and No. 2 in the site’s mid-major rankings. The football team is coached by former University of Miami and Cleveland Browns head coach Butch Davis.
▪ FIU’s graduates are some people you may have heard of: actor Andy Garcia, actor Danny Piño, NFL wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, LPGA Hall of Fame golfer Pat Bradley, and former NBA players Raja Bell and Carlos Arroyo.