–By Sissy Garland for FIU News
Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim have announced a $10 million naming gift to the FIU School of Music, part of the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA). The gift, which will establish several new programs that will elevate the school’s global distinction and identity, is the largest ever made to a music school in the State University System of Florida.
“This gift expresses our continuing passion for and commitment to FIU, our extraordinary hometown university – and the importance of the performing arts, an essential aspect of quality of life,” Dr. Wertheim said. “This gift to support FIU’s dynamic performing arts programs will leverage previous investments we have made in health and business, resulting in enhanced interdisciplinary collaboration between areas and impacts that will benefit our students and community.”
Dr. Wertheim is committed to help raise another $10 million for the school. He also noted that most FIU students remain in the community following graduation, becoming “extraordinary citizens” who are making it better.
The gift, announced at the FIU Board of Trustees meeting on December 5, 2019, will support both music and theater programs in CARTA. The funds will strengthen the college’s student-centric mission of learning-by-doing and enable the School of Music to achieve a top-50 public university ranking. Specifically, the funds will support student scholarships, expanding the physical footprint in the community, curriculum development, incremental faculty and professional staff, guest artists, master classes, faculty and student touring, international competitions, and facility enhancements. The Wertheims envision engaging international talent who have ties to Miami, such as DJ Khaled, Pharrell Williams, Julio Iglesias, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Andy Garcia and Danny Pino.
“For decades, Herbert, Nicole and their daughters Erica Wertheim Zohar and Vanessa Wertheim, have been champions for FIU. They inspire with their vision and they help us excel,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “Their philanthropy and commitment have helped students attain a better future, strengthened research, and enhanced FIU’s impact.”
The donation from the Wertheims – the largest cash donors in FIU’s history – will also enable the school’s acclaimed organ studies program to establish a national platform, host internationally renowned organists, and create an international composition competition and prize. The Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center houses the largest concert organ in the southeast United States, which was donated to the university by the Wertheims in 1999 and named the Sydell Ida Wertheim Organ, in honor of Dr. Wertheim’s mother.
“The Wertheims represent a transformative commitment to the performing arts in South Florida and beyond,” said Brian Schriner, dean of CARTA, which enrolls approximately 4,000 students, 400 of whom are in the performing arts. “Together with the Wertheim family, we will expand the school’s global identity, fuel our community’s cultural vibrancy, and catalyze South Florida’s creative economy.”
The Wertheims have been benefactors of FIU for more than three decades, and their philanthropy has greatly impacted several programs: the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences, the Herbert & Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center, and the Wertheim Plant Research and Teaching Conservatory. Dr. Wertheim is an inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, who was featured in Forbes Magazine earlier this year. He currently serves as honorary chair of the university’s $750 million Next Horizon campaign and has previously filled many volunteer leadership roles at FIU.
“Advancing student success and a vibrant and healthy Miami are among the key goals of our Next Horizon campaign,” said Howard R. Lipman, CEO of the FIU Foundation, Inc. “The Wertheims have truly been architects of our university, and we are both humbled and thankful for their dedication to FIU and the community we serve.”