FIU’s standing in Florida education rises as its enrollment grows| Opinion

The year 2024 will be monumental for Florida International University.

In addition to continuing to top the Florida Performance-Based Funding metrics, we anticipate the university will be named a Preeminent State University by the Florida Board of Governors at its June meeting.

Established by the Florida Legislature, preeminence is a designation earned by Florida’s public universities based on 13 metrics, including four-year graduation rates, retention rates, research expenditures, number of National Academy members and patent production.

FIU will join Florida State University, University of Florida and University of South Florida as preeminent universities.

Preeminent universities are eligible to receive dedicated funding including money to recruit and retain world-class faculty. We are grateful that the Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis have invested in our public universities, providing quality and access while allowing tuition to remain among the lowest in the nation and our students to graduate with very low debt, if any.

This year, the State University System universities will share $350 million in performance-based funding, and $100 million in excellence funding to recruit and retain world-class faculty. The four preeminent universities will share an additional $100 million.

Rankings rise

The Wall Street Journal named FIU the fourth best public university in the nation and Washington Monthly ranked FIU sixth among public universities in the country.

U.S. News and World Report recognized two FIU professional schools: The Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine is ranked No. 2 Most Diverse Medical School. And FIU’s College of Law climbed 38 spots to reach No. 60 among the nation’s law schools (No. 32 among public schools).

FIU also is among the top five U.S. doctoral institutions in producing the most Fulbright U.S. Scholars in 2023-2024.

FIU is classified as a Carnegie R1 “very high research activity” university, a classification only five other universities in Florida have achieved: UF, FSU, UM, USF and UCF. And it is leading the way nationally with one of the fastest-growing research programs. FIU research is making a significant impact in key areas, including environmental resilience, health and technology.

Talent thrives

FIU’s applications are at an all-time high, up 113% since the 2022-2023 academic year.

FIU’s campuses in Miami-Dade are at the crossroads of North America, Latin America and Europe, attracting students from around the world, every state in the union, and every county in Florida. We are proud of our local roots, our engaged community and our relentless focus on serving our region and the global community.

FIU’s four-year graduation rate is above 64%, a national benchmark of excellence. Our investments in student success initiatives, on-campus housing and first-generation programs have paid off with a 91% retention rate for our first-year students.

As one of the nation’s largest Hispanic-serving institutions, FIU graduates more Hispanics, in STEM and other disciplines, than any other university in the nation. Hispanic and Black students earn 86% of the bachelor’s degrees awarded by FIU.

We take pride in being a leader in providing access to upward economic mobility. In fact, Degree Choices ranks FIU among the top 10 universities in the nation for the return on investment it offers its graduates.

In other words, academic success and upward mobility converge at FIU to attract investment and fuel economic prosperity in Florida.

FIU boasts more than 310,000 alumni, annual research expenditures surpassing $317 million and an economic impact in the billions. FIU has invested in significant innovations, within and outside our classrooms and labs. Driven by data, the student success operations of the university focus on identifying and removing barriers that may impede graduation — and it’s working.

FIU’s investment in these areas is possible because of the continued commitment from the state of Florida. This commitment to higher education is central to FIU’s rise to the top and the State University System being ranked the No. 1 system in higher education since 2017, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Brian Lamb is chair of the Florida Board of Governors. Kenneth A. Jessell is the president of Florida International University.