FIU’s leader just stepped down. Here’s how he was picked and what he said the first day

·9 min read

Florida International University announced the resignation of its president, Mark Rosenberg, on Friday, Jan. 21. Here’s a look back through the Miami Herald archives, featuring original articles and photos, at his selection and installation in August 2009.

Installation speech

Below are excerpts from FIU President Mark Rosenberg’s installation speech from Aug. 28, 2009:

Florida International University is a community born out of hope and determination. Today we are a major university with world-class programs and faculty, a key driver of economic development, innovation, and job creation in one of the most energetic cities in the world.

There is a great deal of uncertainty now about our economy; about our ability to sustain our well-being; about meaningful work and jobs in a global economy where we must clearly reinvent ourselves. Some have lost their nerve and seem to be giving up and giving in. With your help we won’t let this happen at FIU!

The first challenge is access. We will redouble our efforts to ensure that eligible students get as much financial assistance as possible. Gov. Crist and the Legislature ... have given us the responsibility and privilege to set our students’ tuition. We will wisely use this new authority, only after we ... are operating efficiently and effectively.

The second challenge? Quality. Our students graduate into a global labor market. To be competitive, they must be taught and mentored by faculty who lead their respective professions. They must have access to curricula that looks forward to the worlds ahead. They must have modern laboratories and facilities. When you donate to FIU — large or small — you make a consequential investment in our future.

Sustainablity a key goal

What is our third challenge? Sustainability. More high-tech cannot come at the expense of high-touch. We must move more quickly to use technology in this 24/7 world, so that our students can benefit from our teaching, anytime, anywhere. We must do better making sure that every student knows they count. We must ensure that our alumni association functions as a network to place FIU student interns and that it offers a lifelong placement for FIU grads.

In this new era, entrepreneurship and innovation will be necessary. How can we run our year 2009-2010 university on a year 2000 state budget?

We must engage our community like never before, [using] our state-of-the-art research to help solve critical problems in educational attainment; in water quality; in improving health and reducing chronic disease; in alternative energy research; in learning about new markets ... to expand our global business reach.

We must reinforce our partnerships with key institutions: our public schools, Miami Dade College, the University of Miami, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the U.S. Southern Command, the Youth Fair, the Public Health Trust, the Children’s Trust, South Florida Water Management, Metro Dade County, the Airport, the Seaport, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, the City of Sweetwater, the City of North Miami, the City of Hialeah, CAMACOL, the Greater Miami Chamber, the Beacon Council, United Way, the Urban League, the Jewish Federation, Fairchild Gardens, the Kiwanis of Little Havana, and dozens of others.

Collaboration is what our world needs; that is what our community demands. In the process, we will become the go-to transformational institution in South Florida.

Mark B. Rosenberg is installed as FIU’s fifth president on Aug. 28, 2009.
Mark B. Rosenberg is installed as FIU’s fifth president on Aug. 28, 2009.

Swearing-in ceremony

Mark B. Rosenberg was sworn in Friday, May 28, as the fifth president of Florida International University. He addressed students, elected officials and invited guests during a ceremony at the U.S. Century Bank Arena at FIU.

Rosenberg is a former chancellor of the State University System of Florida and the first FIU faculty member to become president of the university. He started at FIU as an assistant professor in 1976.

Mark B. Rosenberg gets applause from elected officials, community leaders and members of the FIU community as he is installed as the university’s fifth president on Aug. 28, 2009.
Mark B. Rosenberg gets applause from elected officials, community leaders and members of the FIU community as he is installed as the university’s fifth president on Aug. 28, 2009.

The selection

Published April 26, 2009

BY LUISA YANEZ

lyanez@MiamiHerald.com

Mark Rosenberg, a beloved, brainy and bespectacled Florida International University professor and administrator whose FIU career spans more than three decades, emerged from a national search Saturday to become the school’s fifth president.

His selection came in dramatic fashion as the remaining finalist withdrew only hours before the FIU Board of Trustees was to make its decision.

With his trademark passion and intensity, Rosenberg said he’ll launch a funding offensive targeting private, state, federal and local resources.

“We need to take care of FIU’s financial well-being. That must be addressed immediately,” he said after the trustees, in a unanimous vote, named him to replace outgoing President Modesto “Mitch” Maidique.

Rosenberg’s rise to the top of the nation’s 25th largest university came at the end of a rigorous four-month presidential search that featured more than 34 candidates. By Friday, the field was down to three finalists — Rosenberg, 59; Carlos Santiago, 56, the popular chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and current Provost Ronald Berkman, 62.

But in a surprise move, Berkman took his name out of the running on Friday after deciding to accept a job as chancellor of Cleveland State University.

Santiago’s departure was even more dramatic. He had his name removed from consideration before the start of the trustees’ selection meeting at 11:30 a.m. after it became evident that he did not have enough votes to get the job.

The move stunned trustees and cut short what they thought would be a long discussion of two strong finalists to run the 38,000-student university.

Santiago said in a prepared statement: “While I enjoyed my many meetings with the faculty, staff and students at FIU, I have decided to continue the important work that we have started at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.”

With Santiago out, Rosenberg remained the only finalist standing for the job, which pays up to $680,000 a year in salary and benefits.

“We’ve found the right candidate,” declared FIU Board of Trustees chair David Parker, who led the board’s presidential search committee.

Supporters then rose to give Rosenberg an ovation as the 12-member board unanimously voted him in as FIU’s new leader.

“I don’t want anyone to think Mark was a default candidate; he would have been the choice of the the search committee,” said Arthur “AJ” Meyer, president of the Student Government Association, which strongly supported Rosenberg.

Then emotions took over. Rosenberg hugged and kissed his wife, Rosalie, and two grown children, both FIU students. He then got on his cellphone to call his brother, Geoff, and two sisters.

Minutes later, Maidique introduced Rosenberg. The usually composed outgoing president teared up in making the announcement.

“I couldn’t leave FIU in better hands,” said Maidique, who has remained publicly neutral on the selection of his successor. On Saturday, he admitted favoring both internal candidates.

Rosenberg’s naming was not totally free of controversy. Some of Berkman’s supporters felt his candidacy was treated unfairly by internal Rosenberg supporters. And some wondered if the job was Rosenberg’s all along.

“This was a true national search,” Parker said. “If anything, I think it made Mark a stronger candidate to go through this process. ... He passed the test very well.”

The tab to conduct the presidential search was $98,000.

Some say FIU failed to attract truly powerhouse candidates. The last-minute withdrawal of the promising Santiago ended any chance of an outsider winning the post.

But Saturday was Rosenberg’s day, and he played on the very thing that made him an attractive candidate: His learning curb will be short, and his passion for FIU will bring about the impossible, supporters say.

“I absolutely love FIU,” said Rosenberg, the son of immigrants whose mother was a Holocaust survivor. He and his siblings are first-generation college students.

Rosenberg, an expert in Latin American affairs who speaks fluent Spanish, began his career at the school in 1976 when Jimmy Carter was president. He has also served as dean and provost under Maidique.

In 2005, in training for the job he landed Saturday, he headed to Tallahassee to be chancellor of the State University System.

“I can tell the story from the bottom to the top. I can tell it as a professor and as chancellor,” he told a search committee during his interview last week.

University of Miami President Donna Shalala said looks forward to working with him. “He’s a very fine man.”

Florida Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, said Rosenberg is a very familiar face in Tallahassee. “I’m a former student of Mr. Rosenberg,” Rivera said proudly. “I think his experience with the Florida Legislature as chancellor will serve FIU well when the education budget is discussed.”

Rosenberg said he plans to appeal to alumni like Rivera — a silent army that he says is untapped.

“There is a hungry heart out there for FIU,” he said. “All we have to do is ask them, and they’ll be there for FIU.”

Trustee Thomas Breslin, chair of the Faculty Senate, praised Rosenberg and said “he gets the importance of linkage between a university and a community.”

Barry Johnson, head of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, said Rosenberg has already established alliances with the business community. “I know him, and he gets it. He’ll be a great asset to FIU.”

Even though he won’t officially take over until summer, those who know him say the energetic and intense Rosenberg will be hard to contain.

“I’m ready to start work,” Rosenberg said.

Florida International University President Modesto A. Maidique, center, visits with FIU President-designate Mark Rosenberg, right, and Florida Rep. David Rivera, left, before the first day of the inaugural class of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in the Health and Life Sciences II building on the FIU Modesto A. Maidique campus in west Miami Monday, Aug. 3, 2009.
Florida International University President Modesto A. Maidique, center, visits with FIU President-designate Mark Rosenberg, right, and Florida Rep. David Rivera, left, before the first day of the inaugural class of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in the Health and Life Sciences II building on the FIU Modesto A. Maidique campus in west Miami Monday, Aug. 3, 2009.

FIU’s former presidents

Since it opened in 1972, FIU has had five presidents. Modesto “Mitch” Maidique holds the record for longest tenure, with 23 years.

Mark Rosenberg was the fifth FIU president.

FIU’s other former presidents are:

Charles Perry, 1969-1975 (named president before FIU opened).

Harold Crosby, 1976-1979.

Gregory B. Wolfe, 1979-1986.

Modesto “Mitch” Maidique, 1986-2009.

About Mark B. Rosenberg

Published 2009

Born: Athens, Ohio. Education

B.A. degree from Miami University of Ohio in 1971.

Doctoral degree in political science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1976.

Academic career

Hired as assistant professor of political science at FIU in 1976.

Founding director of the Latin American and Caribbean Center.

Founding dean of the College of Urban and Public Affairs (1994-97).

Vice provost for international studies (1996-98).

FIU’s provost and vice president of academic affairs (1998-2005).

Chancellor of the State University System.

Published:

Has written or co-edited seven books.

His latest is “The United States and Central America: Geopolitical Realities and Regional Fragility.” Affiliations

Member of New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, a prominent think tank.

Family

Lives in Miami Beach with his wife, Rosalie.

Has two grown children, Benjamin and Ginelle, who attend FIU.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting