On Monday, November 18, 2013, the School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University officially launched its initiative for Spanish and Mediterranean Studies during a private meeting with Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince and Princess of Asturias, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Miami. Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia were in South Florida as guests of Florida Governor, Rick Scott, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Ponce the Leon to Florida and to celebrate the cultural linkages between the United States and Spain that this historic anniversary highlights. Their Royal Highnesses met with FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg, Dean Kenneth G. Furton of the College of Arts and Sciences, SIPA Executive Director John F. Stack, Jr., and Professor Aurora Morcillo, who is spearheading the initiative. Also in attendance at the meeting were His Excellency José García-Magallo y Marfil, Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and His Excellency Ramón Gil-Casares, Ambassador of Spain to the United States.
President Rosenberg and Professor Morcillo explained the initiative’s goal to educate students about Spain and the broader Mediterranean by focusing on its history, culture, politics, economics and international relations as well as highlight the continuing importance of this dynamic region in the 21st century. This initiative places special emphasis on the unique synergies that exist between the Mediterranean and the Iberian Peninsula, which serve as the gateway to the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Florida Peninsula.
Dr. Rosenberg described how FIU’s geographical location provides the university a unique opportunity to increase the strength, visibility, and significance of Spanish culture and heritage in a predominantly Hispanic-serving institution. He expressed how our university has more than 54,000 students of which a staggering 70 percent are of Hispanic origins.
Dr. Morcillo also emphasized how the initiative will explore the unique synergies that exist between Spain and the Americas, both historically as well as through contemporary social, economic and political forces. Prince Felipe responded by expressing his commitment to the creation of academic centers and endowed chairs related to Spain across the United States, as well as an interest in supporting programs in the humanities and the natural sciences. The Prince highlighted the various programs that he has helped build and he expressed a desire to return to Miami to see FIU's initiative come to full fruition.
The conversation concluded with the conferral of the FIU Medallion of Courage by Dr. Rosenberg. The university presents this award to those individuals who pursue noble causes. As the heirs to the Spanish throne, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia embody the ideals of the Spanish Monarchy, which has steadfastly defended and advanced democratic principles in Spain and throughout the world.
SIPA Executive Director John F. Stack, Jr., said later “we are so grateful to Their Royal Highnesses for taking the time to honor FIU with a private audience.” He added, “Our vision is to take the initiative for Spanish and Mediterranean Studies to the next level by creating an endowed center. This would demonstrate FIU’s commitment to these relevant fields of study as foundational to the mission of a predominantly Hispanic-serving university.”
Dr. Stack also expressed gratitude to the the Consul General of Spain Ambassador, Cristina Barrios, and Deputy Consul General Javier Pagalday, who arranged the private audience with the Prince and Princess of Asturias. Both Ambassador Barrios and Deputy Consul Pagalday have been extremely supportive of the initiative, ever since its introduction last year.
For more information about the Initiative for Spanish and Mediterranean Studies, please call 305-348-3768.