Florida International University on Monday announced one of the largest donations in its history: a $20 million gift to the School of International and Public Affairs.
The money will help FIU pursue a prestigious accreditation, construct a new building, establish scholarships and rename the school in honor of former Ambassador Steven Green, whose family foundation made the donation.
“I wanted to make sure the I in FIU was a big I, for ‘international,’” Green said.
The financial backing will support what will be known as the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs or “Green School.” Historic changes taking place in Cuba underscore the importance of educating students on international affairs, he said.
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“Miami has the opportunity to be at the forefront of foreign policy, and I’m hoping that the school will be able to mature quickly enough and build itself quickly enough to make sure we’re at the center,” he said.
The largest cash donation since the university opened in 1972 — a $20 million gift that helped found the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in 2009 — came from long-time FIU benefactors Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim. The gift was matched by state funds, making its total impact $40 million.
The Wertheims have donated millions to FIU through their family foundation since 1988 and have several campus buildings named after them. They founded the Wertheim Conservatory and the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center in the 1990s. The most recent gift was in 2013, when Wertheim gave $10 million to the college of nursing and health sciences and renamed it after his wife.
With Monday’s gift, the Green family deepens its mark on FIU. The library also bears the Green name, and the family also sponsors the medical school’s NeighborhoodHELP program, which brings students from various schools together to work with medically under-served families throughout South Florida.
While the previous largest donations to FIU have focused on boosting medical and health science programs, the Green family’s gift puts a new emphasis on international studies.
The record gift is partially a result of conversations with FIU President Mark Rosenberg about bringing the same multidisciplinary approach to the school of international and public relations.
“Ambassador Green has spent his life in international problem solving,” Rosenberg said. “This is the next phase of his family’s involvement, making international studies more interdisciplinary.”
The philanthropic Greens run a family foundation that supports social programs focusing on improving health and alleviating poverty. Daughter Kimberly Green is the foundation’s president.
FIU now hopes to become the 35th school in the world to join the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, an organization that counts Harvard, Princeton and Yale among its members.
The donation “will increase our ability to become a member,” Rosenberg said. “That’s really important for our students, because the best jobs out there in international affairs are going to students who are graduates from APSIA schools.”
The Green School plans to expand into a second building at FIU’s ever-growing main campus. It will also provide scholarship money for some of the university’s 54,000 students.
“One of the great things about FIU is it is a school attempting to democratize education,” Green said. “Everywhere I go, whether it’s a restaurant or a board room in Miami-Dade County, I run into an FIU alum, and it’s a great feeling.”
Green, a University of Miami alumnus, served as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore from 1997-2001 and is the former CEO of Samsonite Corp. The Miami Beach resident currently heads Greenstreet Partners, a private investment company.
He has served as a trustee for the Children’s Health Fund, the United States Olympic Committee’s Champions in Life program, United Way, University of Miami and Florida International University.
He met his wife, Dorothea, 50 years ago at a Miami Beach beauty pageant. Dorothea, 19 at the time, had just been crowned Miss New York.
In further recognition of the Greens, FIU announced it will rename its Latin American and Caribbean Center to the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, and established the Kimberly Green Scholarship and Dorothea Green Lecture Series Fund.
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FIU’s largest donations
▪ The Green Family Foundation is giving $20 million in 2015 for Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs.
▪ The Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation gave a $20 million gift in 2009 for the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.
▪ In 2013, Dr. Herbert Wertheim donated $10 million to the college of nursing and health sciences and renamed it after his wife.
▪ The Leon Medical Center committed $10 million in 2008 to create the Benjamin Leon, Jr. Family Center for Geriatric Research and Education in the college of medicine.
▪ The Green Family Foundation pledged $5 million in 2009 to name the Green Family Foundation Neighborhood Health Education Learning Program in the college of medicine.
▪ Former FIU Trustee R. Kirk Landon committed $5 million in 2004 to name the R. Kirk Landon Undergraduate School of Business.
▪ The Wallace H. Coulter Foundation donated a $5 million gift in 2000 to the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
▪ In 2003, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation committed $3 million in support of the Global Entrepreneurship Center. A year later, developer Sergio Pino donated $2 million to name it the Eugenio Pino and Family Global Entrepreneurship Center.
▪ The Green Family Foundation donated $2.5 million in 1997 to establish endowments for the The Frost Art Museum and the Green Library, which FIU named after Steven and Dorothea Green.
▪ Sunglass Hut founder Sanford L. Ziff gave $2.5 million in 1996. In recognition, FIU named the new college of education building the Sanford and Dolores Ziff and Family Education Building.
This article previously misidentified the donor of $10 million to FIU in 2008. The donor was Leon Medical Center.