Ever since its founding in 1965 and its official grand opening in 1972 to thousands of eager and curious students, Florida International University, colloquially known as FIU, has exhibited exponential growth in academics, research, facilities and student life. Despite its relatively young age, FIU has not only impacted its vibrant and diverse hometown of Miami, it has also been steadily gaining recognition in the United States and around the world as a preeminent institution of higher learning and intellectual exploration. With that being said, here are some fun facts about the school thousands of Panthers, including both students and faculty members, are proud to call home.
FIU is also home to South Florida's only public law and medical schools.
2. FIU is the fourth-largest public university by enrollment in the United States.
In the 2016-2017 academic year, FIU had a whopping 55,111 enrolled students!
3. FIU is made up of two major campuses: The Modesto A. Maidique campus and the Biscayne Bay campus.
In addition to its two main campuses, FIU operates various other locations throughout Miami-Dade County (the Engineering Center, FIU Downtown on Brickell, FIU at I-75 in Miramar and the Miami Beach Urban Studios), an overseas hospitality and tourism management program in Tianjin, China; and two cultural centers in Miami Beach (the Jewish Museum of Florida and the Wolfsonian Art Museum).
4. FIU currently holds an R1 Carnegie Classification for Highest Research Activity.
This prestigious designation is granted to institutions that award at least 20 research and scholarship doctoral degrees during an academic year.
5. FIU operates the world's only underwater ocean laboratory, Aquarius, 60 feet below the water's surface and next to a deep coral reef called Conch Reef in the Florida Keys.
At Aquarius, researchers and scientists strive to study the ocean and preserve its ecosystems, as well as develop state-of-the-art underwater technology and train divers and astronauts.
6. FIU has its own art museum on campus.
It's called the Frost Art Museum, and it displays art from students and artists from local regions and all over the world.
7. Four of FIU's six founding buildings are named after the order in which they were built in different languages.
Primera Casa is the very first building constructed at FIU and means "First House" in Spanish. Deuxieme Maison is FIU's second building and is French for "Second House." Viertes Haus is FIU's fourth building and translates from German to "Fourth House." Lastly, Owa Ehan is the sixth building and means "six houses" in Edo, a language spoken in southern Nigeria.
8. FIU was built on an abandoned airfield.
A remnant of the airfield still stands today: The Ivory Tower, which was once an air traffic control tower with no drinkable water, no furniture and no phones, and in which FIU's first president, Charles Perry, spent a significant amount of time in during the construction of his school.
9. Upon its opening in 1972, FIU was only open to college juniors and seniors.
It didn't begin accepting freshmen until 1981.
10. FIU's mascot used to be the Sunblazer until 1987.
He was also known as a S.O.B., which stands for Son (or Sun?) of a Blazer, of course.
FIU's current mascot is Roary, the Panther we all know and love today.
11. FIU hosts an annual rave and foam party called the SummerFest.
Here's the best part of this must-attend festival: It's free for all FIU students!
12. FIU's annual homecoming concert, Panthermonium, has hosted some big-name performers.
In 2013, Panthermonium featured not only one, but two famous artists: Zedd and J. Cole, while last year's concert featured 2 Chainz.
13. FIU legend says that if two people kiss on the "Kissing Bridge" at Turtle Pond, they will be together forever.
Here's another fun fact: Turtle Pond is coincidentally shaped like a heart! Love is always in the air at FIU!
14. Panther folklore asserts that the top floor of the Green Library is haunted by a ghost that wanders the halls after closing time.
Numerous students have reported feeling an icy hand on their neck, tugs on their hair, quick brushes on their ears and seeing paranormal activity minutes before closing time. But fear not — the Green Library ghost is friendly!
15. According to FIU tradition, if someone steps on the engraved school seal, he or she will delay their graduation for years — or maybe never make it to the finish line at all!
With that being said, watch your step, Panthers!
However, if someone does accidentally step on the seal, he or she must walk around it backwards four times to keep its curse at bay!
Overall, these fascinating tidbits portray all of the characteristics that have shaped FIU into the amazing school it is today— with its commitment to a high-quality college education and enriching research, its embracement of cultural diversity, its dedication to the arts, its penchant for fun and unforgettable experiences and last but not least, its steadfast school pride and love for all things gold and blue. Go Panthers!
Lead Image Credit: Marthena Phan