FIU College of Education Earns National Recognition

The FIU College of Education (COE) Elementary Education TESOL-Infused Program has been named a recipient of the International Reading Association's (IRA) prestigious Certificate of Distinction, which honors outstanding preparation of future elementary and secondary reading teachers.

The award was presented on May 5 at the annual IRA conference in Minneapolis, Minn. The association honored four other universities with Certificates of Distinction: University of Alabama, University of Indianapolis in Indiana, Emporia State University in Kansas, and Texas Christian University.

As part of the rigorous application process, Dr. Joyce Fine and Dr. Lynne Miller, professors at COE, prepared a written report on the reading program that was reviewed by members of IRA's Quality Undergraduate Elementary and Secondary Teacher Education in Reading (QUESTER) Task Force.

The Task Force recommended that the College of Education proceed to the second stage of review - a site visit from task force members who assessed the Elementary Education TESOL-infused program in terms of course content; faculty and teaching; field experiences and practica; cultural diversity; candidate and program assessment; and governance, resources, and vision.

The two-day site visit gave the task force members a chance to visit with FIU faculty, administrators, and students. The reviewers also visited schools in which FIU students were teaching.

The reviewers cited numerous reasons why the reading program at the College of Education is distinctive, including the four sequenced reading courses designed so that with each successive course, students build upon their skills in lesson planning, assessment, and instruction. They particularly commended the exemplary aspect of the fourth reading course, in which candidates integrate their knowledge and skills through a supervised, clinical practicum prior to student teaching.

The reviewers also praised the excellence of COE faculty, who are outstanding practitioners in the field.

"We are so honored to receive the Certificate of Distinction, which recognizes the highest quality of reading teacher preparation," said Dr. Fine. "This brings national recognition to the College of Education, our graduates, and to FIU. Research shows that teachers who teach reading well significantly impact student achievement."

The International Reading Association is a nonprofit, professional organization with 85,000 members and councils and affiliates in more than 100 countries.

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CAS Faculty Awarded $2.75 Million for Groundbreaking Coastal Wetlands Study

Dr. Gary Rand, professor in the Department of Earth and Environment, and Dr. Piero Gardinali, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who are also faculty in the Southeast Environmental Research Center (SERC), recently received a $2.75 million agreement with the Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department to provide environmental research and analysis.

Their groundbreaking project, only the second of its kind in the country, will determine the feasibility of using highly-treated reclaimed water for the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Rehydration Project. This is the second multimillion dollar award that the research team has received in the last five years.

The groundwater and surface water flows to Biscayne Bay, a shallow subtropical estuary, have been dramatically changed by manmade alterations as a result of the Central and Southern Florida Project. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), enacted by the U.S. Congress as part of the Water Resource Development Act of 2000, determined that there is not enough water in the natural system to restore coastal wetlands in Southern Biscayne Bay.

The CERP proposed to address this need by providing highly-treated wastewater to this area through a proposed advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant operated by Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department.

The problem is that wastewater discharged from domestic households may typically contain low level concentrations of organic and inorganic contaminants, including nutrients and emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs). While current water treatment facilities filter out bacteria and other contamination, they were not designed to eliminate these contaminants.

The FIU SERC Ecotoxicology and Risk Assessment Laboratory, along with the SERC Environmental Analysis Research Laboratory (EARL) on the university's Biscayne Bay Campus, will conduct short- and long-term laboratory and outdoor microcosm ecotoxicity studies with aquatic organisms exposed to these highly treated wastewaters to evaluate the safety and potential risks of the reclaimed waters on the Biscayne Bay ecosystem.

"This will be a scientifically challenging and highly visible study for FIU," said Dr. Rand. "We will be applying the best available scientific ecotoxicity testing technology and the U.S. EPA ecological risk assessment framework to evaluate potential risks of the treated wastewaters to Biscayne Bay."

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Frost Art Museum and the Kenan-Flagler Family Discovery Gallery Win Best of Miami

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum has been named Best Art Museum, and its Kenan-Flagler Family Discovery Gallery as The Best Place for Kids to Unleash Their Creativity, by the Miami New Times.

At the Frost's state-of-the-art Family Discovery Gallery, local kids finally have a place to channel their inner van Gogh or Warhol in a setting that invites creativity. The gallery allows visitors to experience a variety of interactive activities designed to educate and entertain.

This state-of-the-art exhibit consists of 13 stations, including the computer-based display "Picture Yourself," where a camera snaps an image of the user's face and reproduces it on a touch screen. Participants can then trace the contours of the face with their fingers and print the finished artwork to take home.

The Family Discovery Gallery will also include a sculpture garden based on the works of the Sculpture Park Collection housed at FIU-University Park; a rubbing station where children can rub images embedded onto a table to make their own print; and a textures station based on works in the Frost Art Museum's Permanent Collection.

As a university museum in a community setting, the Frost is committed to education and the pursuit of new ideas, both within the FIU community and throughout South Florida. With deep budget cuts to art programs at schools around the state, the museum's role in helping students to learn about and create art is more important than ever.

"We give students an opportunity to look at art in a new way, because our exhibits are very interactive," explained Dr. Carol Damian, director of the Frost Art Museum. "All of our stations in the gallery are based on computers and videos. There isn't another art museum in the area that has this level of really high technology interaction."

With free admission to the Frost and the Family Discovery Gallery, a visit won't strain family budgets during an economic recession.

The recognition from the Miami Times highlights the importance of the university as a cultural community center that is located in the neighborhood. "A lot of people don't know where we are," said Dr. Damian. "This recognition is another way of bringing the public to the museum, and with that, to FIU as well."

This summer, the Frost Art Museum will be open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays.

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FIU Students Land Impressive Finish in Putnam Mathematics Contest

The FIU Math Team landed an impressive finish in the prestigious William Lowell Putnam intercollegiate mathematics competition for 2008.

The team of three FIU undergraduate math students - Rafael Badui, Ishtiaq Syed, and David Shor - placed 114th among 405 teams competing in the annual math contest for undergraduate students in the U.S. and Canada.

The extremely challenging mathematics exam, which took place on December 6, 2008, consisted of two three-hour sessions. Students tackled a range of math problems in areas including math analysis, advanced algebra, number theory, and logic, designed to require originality and ingenuity as well as technical competence.

Scoring well in the Putnam competition gives students a competitive edge in their professional careers. Some FIU Putnam participants have been accepted into rigorous summer math programs for undergraduate students at academic institutions such as the University of Maryland. Several students have received funding from the National Science Foundation to participate in the Math in Moscow program, a mathematics program for high-achieving undergraduate and graduate students based at the Independent University of Moscow.

Other FIU Putnam participants have gone on to graduate study in mathematics at top-level universities such as Stanford University, Purdue University, and the University of California.

"These math students are our pride," said Dr. Mirroslav Yotov, professor in the Department of Mathematics, and one of the coaches of the FIU Math Team. "They help get the message out that the math department doesn't just teach calculus. This is an interesting place that offers students genuine opportunities."

"Competing with outstanding students at universities across the country and performing well in the Putnam competition increases the confidence of our gifted math students in what they know and what they can accomplish," Dr. Yotov added.

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Fall 2009 Events

Tribute to President Modesto A. Maidique
Monday, August 3, 2009
U.S. Century Bank Arena

Installation of Mark B. Rosenberg, FIU's 5th President
Friday, August 28, 2009
U.S. Century Bank Arena

Faculty Convocation Events 2009

Faculty Concert - Courtesy of the FIU School of Music - and reception
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Wertheim Performing Arts Center, followed by reception at the Frost Art Museum

Faculty Convocation and Awards Ceremony
Keynote Speaker: Mark Rosenberg, President
Keynote Address: "The Life of the Mind in the 21st Century"

Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wertheim Performing Arts Center

Faculty Convocation Luncheon and Panel Discussion
Friday, September 18, 2009
Graham Center Ballrooms

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