The story of Florida International University's founding began in 1943, when state Senator Ernest 'Cap' Graham (father of future Florida governor and U.S. senator Bob Graham) presented the state legislature with the initial proposal for the establishment of a public university in South Florida. While his bill did not pass, Graham persisted in presenting his proposal to colleagues, advising them of Miami's need for a state university. He felt the establishment of a public university was necessary to serve the city's growing population. In 1964, Senate Bill 711 was introduced by Florida Senator Robert M. Haverfield. It instructed the state Board of Education and the Board of Regents (BOR), to begin planning for the development of a state university in Miami. The bill was signed into law by then-governor W. Haydon Burns in June 1965, marking FIU's official founding. FIU's founding president Charles "Chuck" Perry was appointed by the Board of Regents in July 1969 after a nationwide search. At 32 years old, the new president was the youngest in the history of the State University System and, at the time, the youngest university president in the country. Perry recruited three co-founders, Butler Waugh, Donald McDowell and Nick Sileo. Alvah Chapman, Jr., former Miami Herald publisher and Knight Ridder chairman, used his civic standing and media power to assist the effort. In the 1980s, Chapman became chair of the FIU Foundation Board of Trustees. The founders located the campus on the site of the original Tamiami Airport on the Tamiami Trail (U.S. Route 41) between Southwest 107th and 117th Avenues, just east of where the West Dade Expressway (now the Homestead Extension of Florida's Turnpike) was being planned. The abandoned airport's air traffic control tower became FIU's first building. It originally had no telephones, no drinking water, and no furniture. Perry decided that the tower should never be destroyed, and it remains on campus, where it is now known variously as the "Ivory Tower," the "Tower Building," or the "Public Safety Tower," and is the former location of the FIU Police Department. Opening of the doors: 1969ï¿½75 The Graham Center, FIU's student union. Over 3.5 million people walk through the Graham Center every year, making it the heart of student life at FIU. In September 1972, 5,667 students entered the new state university, the largest opening day enrollment at the time. Previously, Miami had been the largest city in the country lacking a public baccalaureate-granting institution. Eighty percent of the student body had just graduated from Dade County Junior College (now Miami-Dade College). A typical student entering FIU was 25 years old and attending school full-time while holding down a full-time job. Forty-three percent were married. Negotiations with the University of Miami and Dade County Junior College led FIU to open as an upper-division only school. It would be 9 years before lower-division classes were added. The first commencement, held in June 1973, took place in the reading room of the ground floor of Primera Casa ï¿½ the only place large enough on campus for the ceremony. More than 1,500 family members and friends watched FIU's first class of 191 graduates receive their diplomas. By late 1975, after seven years at the helm, Charles Perry felt he had accomplished his goal and left the University to become president and publisher of the Sunday newspaper magazine Family Weekly (now USA Weekend), one of the country's largest magazines. When he left, there were more than 10,000 students attending classes and a campus with five major buildings and a sixth being planned. Crosby and Wolfe: 1976ï¿½86 FIU is the 7th-largest university in the United States, and the largest in South Florida. Harold Crosby, the University's second president and the founding president of the University of West Florida in Pensacola, agreed in 1976 to serve a three-year "interim" term. Under his leadership, FIU's North Miami Campus (which was officially renamed the Bay Vista Campus in 1980, the North Miami Campus in 1987, the North Campus in 1994, and the Biscayne Bay Campus in 2000) ï¿½ located on the former Interama site on Biscayne Bay ï¿½ was opened in 1977. State Senator Jack Gordon was instrumental in securing funding for the development of the campus. President Crosby emphasized the university's international character, prompting the launching of new programs with an international focus and the recruitment of faculty from the Caribbean and Latin America. President Crosby's resignation in January 1979 triggered the search for a "permanent" president. Gregory Baker Wolfe, a former United States diplomat and then-president of Portland State University became FIU's third president, from 1979 to 1986. After stepping down as president, Wolfe taught in the university's International Relations department. The student union on the Biscayne Bay Campus is named in his honor. Maidique: 1986ï¿½2009 Cuban born Modesto A. Maidique assumed the presidency at FIU in 1986, becoming the fourth in the university's history. Maidique graduated with a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), before joining the private sector. He held academic appointments from MIT, Harvard and Stanford Universities, and has been named to several US Presidential boards and committees. Under his leadership, FIU heralded in an era of unprecedented growth and prestige with all facets of university undergoing major transformations. Physically, the university tripled in size and its enrollment grew to nearly 40,000. During his 23 years as president, the school established the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, the FIU College of Law, the FIU School of Architecture and the Robert Stempel School of Public Health. Also during his tenure, endowment grew from less than $2 million to over $100 million. During Maidique's tenure, the university added 22 new doctoral programs. Research expenditures grew from about $6 million to nearly $110 million as defined by the National Science Foundation. In 2000, FIU attained the highest ranking in the Carnegie Foundation classification system, that of "Doctoral/Research University-Extensive." FIU's faculty has engaged in research and holds far-reaching expertise in reducing morbidity and mortality from cancer, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, diabetes and other diseases, and change the approaches to the delivery of health care by medical, public health, nursing and other healthcare professionals, hurricane mitigation, climate change, nano-technologies, forensic sciences, and the development of biomedical devices. The arts also flourished while Maidique was at the helm, with the university acquiring The Wolfsonian-FIU Museum on Miami Beach and building the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum on its main campus. In athletics, FIU made inroads in becoming a powerhouse athletic university during Maidique's time as president and he championed the eventual establishment of a NCAA football program. Finally, the school earned membership into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest honor society. Maidique was the second longest-serving research university president in the nation. Now President Emeritus, he currently serves as the Alvah H. Chapman, Jr., Eminent Scholar Chair in Leadership and Executive Director of the Center for Leadership and Professor of Management at FIU. Recent history Paul Cejas School of Architecture Building On November 14, 2008, Maidique announced that he would be stepping down and asked FIU's Board of Trustees to begin the search of a new president. He said he would remain president until a new one was found. On April 25, 2009, Mark B. Rosenberg was selected to become FIU's fifth president. He signed a five-year contract with the Board of Trustees. On August 29, 2009, Rosenberg became FIU's fifth president. The Wertheim Conservatory houses many rare species of plants and foliage. Having started as a two-year upper division university serving the Miami area, FIU has grown into a much larger traditional university and serves international students. More than $600 million has been invested in campus construction, with the addition of new residence halls, the FIU Stadium, recreation center, student center, and Greek life mansions, as well as the fielding of the Division I-A Golden Panthers football team in 2002. Since 1986, the university established its School of Architecture, College of Law and College of Medicine (named the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in 1999 after Herbert Wertheim donated $20 million to the college, which was matched by state funds and is the largest donation in the university's history, and acquired the historic Wolfsonian-FIU Museum in Miami Beach. FIU now emphasizes research as a major component of its mission and is now classed as a "very high research activity" university under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Sponsored research funding (grants and contracts) from external sources for the year 2007ï¿½2008 totaled some $110 million. FIU has a budget of over $649 million FIU's School of Hospitality & Tourism Management collaborated with China's Ministry of Education to work on preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympics. FIU was the only university in the United States invited to do so. Royal Caribbean is building a $20 million 130,000 sq. ft. training facility for its performers at the school. It is scheduled to open in 2015. The buildings will serve architecture, art, and hospitality students including lighting, set design, marketing, and other internship and training opportunities.