Global Learning QEP: Faculty Lead the Way

On Tuesday, February 17, the Faculty Senate voted to support the curriculum framework draft for FIU's Global Learning Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). The framework outlines a global learning course sequence for all FIU undergraduates: students will take at least one global learning foundational course in the core and at least one upper division course focused on global dynamics in their major.

The reins of QEP leadership properly rest in the hands of the faculty. Faculty members have led the way in the development of the curriculum framework, and will continue to do so at every stage of the evolution of the QEP. QEP landmarks thus far include the following:

  • Fall 2007: A faculty proposal for internationalizing FIU's curriculum is chosen as the theme for the QEP;
  • Spring 2008: 18 faculty members, 7 of whom serve on the Faculty Senate, join with 8 administrators and students to form the QEP Development Team, charged with researching and composing the initial blueprint for the QEP;
  • Summer 2008: The first Internationalization Faculty Learning Community forms to explore interdisciplinary approaches for implementing the QEP and to create replicable models of teaching global knowledge, skills, and attitudes;
  • Fall 2008: An Associate Professor from the College of Education, Hilary Landorf, is chosen as Director of the Office of Global Learning Initiatives, charged with the responsibility of coordinating faculty-led QEP initiatives;
  • Spring 2009: Faculty pilot four new global learning-infused courses in the core; 10 faculty attend the American Council on Education (ACE) conference on Internationalizing Higher Education Curriculum.

For more information on the Global Learning QEP, or to find out how you can become more involved, contact Andrew Gomez, Program Assistant, Office of Global Learning Initiatives, GL 470, by phone (305-348-4145) or e-mail (

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Two FIU Professors Win Prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Awards

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded two FIU professors its prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. The award supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars and effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Dr. Craig Layman, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, was awarded $800,000 for a five-year study of the fragmentation of the ecosystem in the Bahamas. His proposal looks at ways to work with local communities to restore the fragile ecosystems of three wetlands, which are important nursery habitats for fish and vertebrates.

A number of roads are blocking the connection between the wetlands and the ocean environment. Dr. Layman plans to restore connectivityby building bridges and culverts that will help water flow again, preventing severe a severe decline in marine and coral fisheries.

"This is the most important milestone in my academic career," said Dr. Layman. "The CAREER Award will give me the latitude to completely develop and change the trajectory of environmental education and the way scientific research is conducted in the Bahamas."

Dr. Girma Bitsuamlak, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, won the award for his proposal of a groundbreaking project that will employ computer simulation to determine wind flow fields around buildings. He will receive a total of $400,219 for a five-year study.

Dr. Bitsuamlak's project will explore the effects of high-impact wind speeds on buildings and structures. His aim is to contribute to the design nd construction of stronger, more hurricane-resilient structures and the development of new ways to reduce hurricane damage.

Catastrophic losses in human casualties and property damage are mounting in hurricane-prone areas such as South Florida. In 2005, the storms caused economic losses exceeding $100 billion and more than 1400 deaths.

"The NSF grant will help me to build a top-notch wind engineering research team at FIU with my colleagues and to conduct cutting-edge research," said Dr. Bitsuamlak. "I hope to make Miami the Silicon Valley of natural hazard mitigation product development."

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FIU Public Health Program Graduates First Ph.D. Student

Elliot Sklar's academic adventure has taken him from Montreal, Canada, to Miami. His journey culminated in 2008 when he became the first student at FIU to earn a Ph.D. in public health.

The 28-year-old Sklar had already earned a master's in integrated marketing communication from FIU when he enrolled in the doctoral program at the Robert Stempel School of Public Health. He was one of 20 students in the inaugural class in Fall 2005, and the first to graduate from the Health and Disease Prevention track.

"Being the first was both rewarding and challenging," Sklar said. "There wasn't a guidebook or established procedures in place to show me the way. But I had a great opportunity to work with and shadow fantastic professors and to meet public health professionals and advocates."

After graduation, Sklar accepted a job as a health programs manager at Unidad in Miami Beach, a non-profit agency, where he is responsible for managing and evaluating three grant-funded health programs. His ultimate goal is to launch a consulting practice.

"There are so many exciting challenges in protecting the public's health today and in the future," said Sklar. "I'm looking forward to exploring career opportunities in this dynamic and growing field."

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Recent FIU Faculty Book Publications

Members of the FIU community have recently made important literary contributions that extend far beyond the campus gates.

Jerry Haar, associate dean and professor of management and international business in the College of Business Administration, co-authored Can Latin America Compete? (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) This extensive and detailed book identifies and analyzes ten factors that most influence the competitiveness of Latin American nations and will shape their economic futures. Haar also co-authored Small Firms, Global Markets (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), which examines the forces and factors that shape the global competitive environment for small firms, and identifies representative case examples of successful and unsuccessful responses to competition from around the world.

Nathan Katz, professor and chair, Department of Religious Studies, penned Spiritual Journey Home (Jersey City, NJ, Ktav Publishing House, 2009), a unique memoir which portrays his lifelong spiritual odyssey in search of religious enlightenment. This personal story is a profound exertion in religious passion with many unexpected turns. Beginning as a conservative Jewish youth in 1950s Camden, New Jersey, and ending as an Orthodox Jew in Miami Beach, Katz devoted his professional life to study of the traditions of the East.

John Rock, dean of FIU College of Medicine, co-authored the revised Tenth Edition of TeLinde's Operative Gynecology (Lippincott, Williams & Williams, 2008), one of the world's leading gynecologic surgery references. In this new edition, TeLinde's leads the field with a Best Surgical Practices section in each chapter that synthesizes the best way for surgical procedures. The classic text is rooted in the Johns Hopkins tradition of gynecologic surgery, but now includes 75 contributors, for a broader, more complete presentation of national and international practices. The book includes more than 1,600 illustrations that demonstrate the surgical techniques.

"The books published by members of our faculty are tangible evidence of the intellectual capacity and professional engagement of our colleagues in their various and respective disciplines," said Ronald. M. Berkman, executive vice president and provost.

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A Call to Faculty and Staff - Make Commencement Count

Commencement ceremonies are a tribute to our graduates as much as to faculty and staff who steer students in each of their unique capacities from the initial admission until the completion of their degree. Graduating students is the collective accomplishment of the university community, and with an average of 3,000 students each Spring and Fall semester, a truly impressive one. For commencement ceremonies to be continuously successful, we need the support and participation of faculty and staff.

There are several ways we ask you faculty and staff to participate:


Attend your college's or school's ceremony. "Standing on the sidelines, I have seen countless graduates shake hands, hug, cheer and shed tears with their respective faculty upon degree conferral," said Gitta Montoto, newly appointed Chair of the Commencement Committee. "It is a joyous and meaningful moment in the students' lives, particularly knowing that many of them are the first college grads in their family. It is a touching and rewarding experience for the faculty as well." For the schedule of ceremonies see below.

Serve on the Commencement Committee. We are looking for faculty to serve on the committee. Such representation is important in order to advise the committee on faculty needs and concerns. If you are interested in serving, please contact Gitta Montoto at ext. 2151 or e-mail her at


Staff volunteers are a valuable resource at the ceremonies and serve as University Ambassadors. Assignments include ushering students' families to their seats, answering general questions of guests, helping with disabled seating, and helping faculty before the procession. Maintaining a comfortable environment to make the ceremony memorable is our main goal. Those willing to join the group of volunteers should contact volunteer coordinator Lissette Soto at ext. 1672 or via e-mail at


Faculty and Staff:
Share Notable Accomplishments of Graduates. The FIU Office of Media Relations is asking faculty to help identify noteworthy graduates whose stories may be of special interest to the media. Possible story ideas include FIU graduates who won awards or recognition for their academic work or community service, doctoral or honor students who completed groundbreaking research projects, and students who overcame great obstacles to complete their education. If you are aware of any such human interest stories, please contact the Office of Media Relations or e-mail Maydel Santana-Bravo at as soon as possible.


Submit Nominations for Degrees. Honorary degrees will be awarded at Commencement to individuals who inspire the graduating class and bring honor to the university. Nominees must demonstrate outstanding achievement and strong character. Any FIU employee can nominate a candidate for an honorary degree by submitting a written nomination, letter, or statement and the candidate's biography and CV to the Chairperson of the Honorary Degree and Awards Committee, Lewis Davidson at


Nominations will be reviewed and approved by the Committee, the Faculty Senate, the President, and the FIU Board of Trustees.


Please mark your calendar for the Spring 2009 Commencement Ceremonies taking place in the US Century Arena and scheduled as follows:


Monday, April 27, 2009

10:00 a.m.

  • School of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
  • College of Education

3:00 p.m.

  • College of Arts and Sciences

7:30 p.m.

  • College of Architecture and The Arts
  • College of Public Health and Social Work
  • College of Nursing and Health Sciences


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

10:00 a.m.

  • College of Business Administration - Chapman Graduate School
  • College of Engineering and Computing

3:00 p.m.

  • College of Business Administration - Landon Undergraduate School of Business

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