Message from the Provost

I welcome you back to campus at the start of the 2008-09 academic year. As of this week, 38,727 students enrolled for Fall 2008, which is slightly above the enrollment of last year. 2,114 FTIC students entered the university; these students had a mean SAT score of 1160 and a mean HS GPA of 3.69. The 1160 SAT mean, a historic high for the university, is 143 points above the national mean of 1017, and 167 points above the State of Florida mean. Student housing is at 95% capacity and the administration is currently in the planning stages to supply graduate housing to meet a growing demand with a target date for completion in 2010/2011. While Fay, Gustav and Ike were only indirect threats to South Florida, I ask that you prepare now and stay alert throughout the rest of the hurricane season. Please also visit the Office of Emergency Management's website at

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SACS Reaffirmation 2010

All major universities are accredited by a regional accrediting agency. Accreditation is required in order for students to obtain Federal grants and federally-backed loans. FlU and all of the SUS are in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation area. Accreditation is reviewed every 10 years. FlU was reaccredited in 2000. Thus we are due for reaccreditation, or as it is now termed, reaffirmation of our accreditation, in 2010.

SACS has approximately 90 principles with which we need to document our compliance. The principles range from student learning outcomes to conflict of interest for members of the Board of Trustees. The reaffirmation process seeks to document that the university uses a continual quality improvement process whereby we assess our actions, evaluate that assessment, modify our actions based on that evaluation, and reassess to see if the modifications have led to progress toward desired goals. In past accreditation cycles, the emphasis has been primarily on the academic program. While the emphasis is still on the academic program, the requirements for assessment, evaluation, modification, and reassessment, i.e., "closing the loop," have been extended to all aspects of the university operation from the Foundation, to UTS, to parking.

All of our units have been committed to operational improvement, but not all have documented their planning and implementation in the framework required for reaffirmation. Every unit of the University needs to be engaged in documenting its processes and meeting the expectations of the SACS reviewers.

A more detailed summary of what to expect and a timeline for submission deadlines, site visits etc. will be sent to all faculty within the coming days.

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Welcome New Faculty

On August 20, I formally welcomed 57 new faculty to FIU, who joined our academic community from other institutions across the nation. Academic Affairs and the Academy for the Art of Teaching planned a full day of orientation events during which our new colleagues met academic leadership and peers, learned about the unique culture at FIU, received detailed information from various units across the university during resource fairs, toured the campus, and enrolled with HR and benefits.

I am pleased to introduce a handful of your new colleagues to you to showcase the caliber of scholars who have joined the academy. To read a short introductory biography of all new faculty hired this fall, please visit the academic affairs website at


Anahid Kulwicki, Professor and Graduate Director, College of Nursing & Health Sciences
Dr. Kulwicki joins FIorida International University as the Director of the Graduate Program in Nursing. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, and both her Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Science from Indiana University. Her research focuses on the health of immigrant, refugee, and minority populations.


Steven Blevins, Assistant Professor, College of Arts & Sciences, Department of English
Dr. Blevins received his Ph.D. in English from the University of California at Davis, with designated emphases in Critical Theory and Feminist Theory and Research. His teaching and scholarly interests include postcolonial literature and theory, transnational cultural studies, gender and sexuality studies, and twentieth-century British literature and culture.


Joohngho Moon, Assistant Professor, College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Chemistry
Dr. Moon received his Ph.D. in Inorganic and Materials Chemistry from Pohang University of Science and Technology in Korea in 1999. He has studied MIT and was a member of the Nomadics Life Sciences/Advance Materials Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His current research focuses on the design and development of fluorescent polymer nanoparticles for live cell imaging, cell-based assays, and delivery vehicles for drugs or functional biomolecules. He was the Principal Investigator on the NIH-funded project "Fluorescent conjugate polymer bioconjugates for live cell imaging." He has authored 15 scientific publications and has 6 issued patents.


Kenneth Murray, College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Biology, Assistant Professor
Dr. Murray completed his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Before coming to FIU, he was the Schering-Plough Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard University, where he held a Life Sciences Research Foundation Fellowship.


Laurie Shrage, Professor, College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Philosophy and Director of Women's Studies
Dr. Shrage has published extensively on a wide range of topics that are at the core of debates about ethics and women's health and roles. She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California, San Diego, in 1983. She taught at Scripps College, Pitzer College, Lake Forest College, and Howard University, and went on to join the faculty of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, in 1987. Dr. Shrage has lectured at universities around the world and authored Abortion and Social Responsibility: Depolarizing the Debate (Oxford UP 2003), and Moral Dilemmas of Feminism: Prostitution, Adultery, and Abortion (Routledge 1994), as well as numerous articles.


Zhenyu Yang, Assistant Professor, College of Engineering & Computing, School of Computer & Information Sciences
Dr. Yang received his M.S. and Ph.D. from the Department of Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his B.E. from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. His research interests include networking and distributed systems with a focus on communication and multimedia systems involving quality-of-service management, overlay and peer-to-peer networks, content delivery network, wireless networks, 3D collaborative environments, human-computer interface/interaction, and development of multimedia applications, particularly to promote collaborative and interdisciplinary research.


Erica Gollub, Assistant Professor, Stempel School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
Dr. Gollub obtained her MPH in Population and Family Studies and her DrPH in Epidemiology, both at Columbia University. She has developed and tested novel behavioral interventions for diverse populations of women at risk for STD/HIV in the United States and around the world. Dr. Gollub was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 1997 for research among immigrant women in southern France. She served as consultant to the CDC, FDA, WHO, and NIH; and was co-Investigator on several other large grants. She is widely published and has testified before the FDA on female contraceptive barrier methods. Prior to her arrival at FIU, she was a Visiting Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Bordeaux.


David Lawson, Instructor/Librarian, University Libraries, Serials Cataloger
David Lawson, the new Green Library Serials Cataloger, received his M.S.L.S. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During his graduate studies, he was selected as a Carolina Academic Library Associate, and one year of his program was supported by a Susan Grey Akers Fellowship. While an undergraduate at UNC-Chapel Hill, he was named a National Merit Scholar, a Carolina Fellows Scholar, and a UNC Honors Program Graduate. His thesis, An Evaluation of Arabic Transliteration Methods, explores his interest in languages.

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PantherSoft Upgrade

Since last December a core team of university staff have been working steadfastly to prepare the University for an upgrade of its Panthersoft Student Administration module. The results of this work and collaboration with business units and academic units will be realized later this Fall when Panthersoft 9.0 Campus Solutions goes live to the FIU community.

Panthersoft 9.0 will integrate new business processes, streamline others and provide new functionality that will help us to serve our students more effectively and efficiently.

A few examples are highlighted below:

The Schedule Planner includes the ability for advisors and students to validate the student’s proposed schedule (check selected classes for time conflicts, class limits, prerequisites, and repeats) prior to actually registering.

The class enrollment process has been redesigned to allow for advance planning, facilitate finding a class and its related sections, and simplify the steps in completing an enrollment. The major features of the new enrollment process include: enhanced class search, Schedule Planner capability, Enrollment Wizard.

The weekly schedule on the Student Center has been redesigned for better usability. This includes easy­to­use buttons that enable the user to quickly move from week to week. The weekly schedule will recognize holiday schedules and term/session beginning and ending dates of the semester.

As the weeks progress we will be providing information on implementation and training.

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2008 Faculty Convocation and Faculty Awards

I look forward to seeing you at this week's Faculty Convocation events, our annual celebration of scholarly accomplishments. I strongly encourage you to attend and honor your colleagues who have won individual awards for outstanding academic achievements. The Faculty Convocation 2008 Awardees are as follows:

Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching:

  • Alma Abdel-Moty (Department of Occupational Therapy)
  • Faisal Kaleem (Department of Decision Sciences & Information Systems)
  • Laird Kramer (Department of Physics)

Faculty Award for Excellence in Research:

  • Arvind Agarwal (Department of Mechanical & Material Engineering)
  • Kannan Raghunandan (Department of Accounting)
  • Judith Stiehm (Department of Political Science)

Faculty Award for Excellence in Service:

  • Leslie Frazier (Department of Psychology)
  • Nestor Portocarrero (School of Hospitality Management)

Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentorship:

  • Maureen Donnelly (Department of Biological Sciences)
  • Daniel Wakefield (Department of English)

Faculty Award for Excellence in Librarianship:

  • Scott Kass (Library)

Faculty Award for Excellence in Advising:

  • William Maguire (Department of Art & Art History)

Adjunct Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching:

  • Gretchen Scharnagl (Department of Art and Art History)
  • Jayne Klein (Department of Religious Studies)
  • Anastasios Moysidis (Department of Finance)

President's Council Outstanding Faculty Award (finalists, winner to be announced at the ceremony):

  • Arvind Agarwal, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering
  • Kinzy Jones, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Director AMERI
  • Darden Pyron, Department of History

The Faculty Senate Honorary Degree and Awards Committee decided to select fewer awardees per category this year, which increases the honorarium per Faculty Award from $3,000 to $7,500 per award. The award honorarium for each Adjunct Faculty Award is $1,000. The President’s Council, formerly known as the Council of 100, has generously increased their award amount for the Outstanding Faculty Award from $10,000 to $12,500. I congratulate all awardees on this recognition.

I thank the Faculty Senate Honorary Degree and Awards Committee for their work on selecting faculty awardees and the Undergraduate Education committee for selecting adjunct teachers.

To view a calendar of the Faculty Convocation events, please visit

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Academic Space News

In the Spring 2005 semester the Florida Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) conducted a study of the classroom utilization rates for all SUS campuses. Their focus was to assess the classroom utilization rates for a specific period of time, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 p.m. Based on those parameters and other criteria set forth by OPPAGA, Florida International University ranked last within the SUS with a 42% utilization rate, while the SUS average was 54%.

Based on this finding the administration created a Classroom Space Utilization Committee to assess the university’s current practices, research best practices in the field and make recommendations to the administration. The task force worked for over a year and presented its final recommendations to the Faculty Senate in Fall 2006. One of the major recommendations presented and adopted by the faculty senate and the university administration was the proposal of a MWF/T-Th class schedule. While the university administration and colleges continue to improve upon this structural change, we are happy to report that in the Spring 2008 FIU conducted the same analysis as was done by OPPAGA and our classroom utilization rate is now 62%.

Not only are we continuing to improve utilization of academic space, we are also striving to enhance the learning environment for our students and faculty and have renovated and upgraded 28 classrooms at UP, BBC and EC during the summer. Those much needed upgrades included the installation of new flooring, painting, ceilings, light fixtures, furnishings, whiteboards, and additional electrical outlets for laptop users where possible. Many of the upgrades serve to comply with ADA requirements (i.e. the renovation of a ramp to make it wheelchair accessible and the purchase of wheelchair accessible desks with a loose chair that allows users with other disabilities to use them as well). In addition, where funding was available for audiovisual equipment to be installed by UTS, infrastructure was provided as well.

I thank the leadership and the staff of the Office of Academic Space Management and Facilities Management, who have done an outstanding job upgrading these classrooms throughout the summer months.

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