Memorandum: Welcome back faculty and staff – Fall 2020

Dean Mike Heithaus welcomed back faculty and staff in a memorandum sent on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020.

Dear faculty and staff,

I hope this finds you settled in and connected for the start of the semester. I want to express my sincere gratitude to each of you for rising to the challenges we have faced, for your adaptability in the face of a seemingly ever-changing landscape, and for your compassion and empathy for your students, colleagues, and community. I am truly inspired at the work you have done and the opportunities you have created in the face of the pandemic. Your efforts are helping our students not only continue in their pursuits of a college education but to be successful during one of the most difficult times in their lives.  

In spite of the global pandemic, we still graduated thousands of students in the spring and summer. In fact, we achieved the highest ever graduation rate for the college.  Our enrollment for fall is as strong as ever. And many of you have hosted virtual events on issues of critical importance to our community including racial injustice, education, mental health, wildlife conservation and most recently, saving Biscayne Bay. These conversations have reached across the globe and are making a difference.

I am excited to share with you some recognitions for our college this past summer. FIU was ranked No. 9 in the world, and No. 3 in the United States, for our Impact on Life Below Water by Times Higher Education.  I am very proud of this ranking because it is about our impact. It means others are recognizing the work you do, how it’s helping our environment and how we are preparing the future leaders and stewards of our fragile planet.  And this is just one of the many areas where the impact of the college and our collaborators is being felt.

Our STEM Transformation Institute received a top Inspiring Programs in STEM award from Insight Into Diversity magazine. Dr. Isaac Burt from the Department of Counseling, Recreation and School Psychology was awarded the President’s Access and Equity Award during FIU’s Recognition Awards ceremony. And Nick Ogle, assistant director of Education Outreach and BBC Operations, was awarded the Sustainability Award in the same ceremony. The college was also recognized by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education with two national silver awards for the college magazine — Change is Coming and A Canopy Grows in Coconut Grove — and a district gold for Scientists Zero in on How a Mosquito Finds Our Sweat.

It is always gratifying to be recognized by others for the hard work we put in each and every day. But, we have much work still to do.  We continue to work to increase the scope and impact of our research and creative work. We continue to work diligently to improve student success – while at FIU and after graduation. So please remember to use Canvas, record those mid-term grades, and take advantage of the Early Alert system! 

It is an honor to work alongside all of you in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education. Thank you for all you do to help our students, college and FIU succeed. I wish you all the best for a healthy, productive and successful fall semester!

Mike Heithaus
Dean, College of Arts, Sciences & Education