The family of FIU visionary Albert Dotson Sr. has donated $1 million to FIU to commemorate his legacy at the university.
The gift supports athletics, scholarships for minority students, and the Management and Advanced Research Center (MARC building) at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus. In recognition of this gift, the university renamed the International Pavilion at the MARC building as the Earlene and Albert Dotson Pavilion, named for him and his wife.
At a ceremony April 21 unveiling the newly renamed pavilion, President Mark B. Rosenberg said, “We celebrate a consequential family this afternoon, a family that goes above and beyond for you, for our community and for our university. It’s a family that has stood by us and helped us grow.”
Dotson has long been part of the fabric of FIU. Chairman and CEO of the consulting firm Puryear Inc., he is credited with coining the phrase, “FIU: The Finest Institution in the Universe.”
Dotson is a trustee emeritus and chaired the FIU Board of Trustees from 2009-2011. He also served on the FIU Foundation, Inc. Board of Directors from 1983-2001.
Dotson played an integral role in the founding of FIU’s College of Law and Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. A longtime supporter of athletics, he was among the advocates who saw a future for football at FIU and helped secure Riccardo Silva Stadium.
As a trustee, Dotson served on the presidential search committees that appointed both President Modesto A. Maidique in 1986 and President Rosenberg in 2009. An engaged community leader, he has also served on the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Dotson’s wife of 60 years and business partner, Earlene, who founded Puryear Inc., was by his side the whole time, attending FIU football games and devoting her time and service to FIU.
“For more than three decades, he and Earlene have had dedication and unshakeable devotion to this institution,” Rosenberg said at the ceremony.
All five of the Dotsons’ children and their spouses; all 13 grandchildren (some of whom came in the midst of their universities’ finals week); and close family and friends came to FIU, some from out-of-state, to celebrate.
“Al and Earlene have been an important part of this university for as long as anyone can remember,” Howard Lipman, CEO of FIU Foundation, Inc., said to the family, adding, “With this wonderful gift, this legacy, you ensure that the mark your parents have made on FIU and all the people we serve in our community is permanent.”
Earlene and daughter LaTéssa Hall cried happily as the curtain fell, revealing their family name on the front of the MARC building.
Hall had visited FIU the week before to watch the name be affixed to the building. She even helped workers place some screws into the backs of the letters.
“What a wonderful legacy that [our parents] leave, not just for us as children, but also for their grandchildren and the community,” Hall said that day. “I’m really humbled and honored by the opportunity to do this for their great work.”
Her brother, Albert Dotson Jr., said their parents represent “hope, knowledge and opportunity” for their family and for the community. “Buildings outlive people, they outlive generations, and they sometimes outlive civilizations. So we hope that through this naming, there will be students… here for years and decades and centuries to come who will know that this is a building that was built with love, named for two people who love each other and who love this community.”
At the unveiling ceremony, the Dotsons met football player Shawndarrius Phillips, a first-generation college student and the oldest of 12 raised by a single mother. Phillips is a sophomore majoring in communication arts and hopes to follow in Dotson Sr.’s footsteps by opening his own business.
Phillips knows well the impact that supporters like the Dotsons have on FIU students. After tearing his ACL in 10th grade, he thought he would never play football again. But knowing the game may be his only route to college, he worked hard to recover in physical therapy, and eventually earned a full athletic scholarship to FIU.
“I want to thank you both for what you’ve done for FIU, what you’ve done for FIU Athletics and what you’ve done for students like me,” Phillips told the Dotsons.
The Dotsons also got to meet Jenna Bilodeau, a third-year student in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. She was inspired to pursue neurology after her father suffered a brain injury in 2015 and she helped nurse him back to health.
When she visited FIU to interview for the program, she knew it was the right choice.
“I turned to FIU, because FIU felt like home,” Bilodeau said, thanking Dotson Sr. for his role in bringing the college to FIU.
Of his years of service to FIU, Dotson said, “To whom much is given, much is required. And it’s what you do for others that will last.”