STEM Education, Veteran Benefits, Public Health, and Immigration in the Forefront of the Closing Week

September 13, 2013

As Congress was returning to work this week after its summer recess, the FIU DC team was active advancing its STEM education, veterans benefits, and immigration reform priorities; as well as taking time to celebrate FIU's diplomatic reach in Latin America.

 Organization of American States Event

On Tuesday, September 9th , the team visited the White House for its Champions of Change event in which 8 innovators in prevention and public health were honored. This event also provided FIU the opportunity to promote its own NeighborhoodHELP Model of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.  Among those present and aware of the impact of NeighborhoodHELP was Mayra Alvarez, Director of Public Policy for the Office of Health Reform in HHS.  For a full list of the Champions and the event click here.


President Rosenberg was in Washington this week for the first meeting of the National Research Council’s Undergraduate STEM Degrees Committee. During this first meeting, the panel laid the groundwork for its work going forth and discussed what priorities to address. President Rosenberg moderated a panel and will be leading the panel’s analysis of institutional change necessary to meet the national need for more STEM graduates.  For more information on FIU’s STEM Reforms click here.


Also this week, the House Education and Workforce Committee held a hearing entitled “Keeping College Within Reach: Supporting Higher Education Opportunities for America’s Servicemembers and Veterans.” It is estimated that there have been over one million servicemembers and veterans assisted by the 9/11 G.I. Bill. The sub-committee discussed ways in which the transition from a military lifestyle to higher educational setting could be facilitated. The methods that were discussed included accepting military experience as an equivalent to college credit; instituting veteran-to-veteran mentoring programs; and preparing faculty for the task of teaching servicemembers and veterans by training them to identify Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and making them aware of the challenges that many veterans face as older working adults with families.  FIU was one of the first universities to ever waive out of state tuition costs for veterens and currently has the state's largers population of students who receive veteran benefits at nearly 2000.


On Thursday the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) held a press conference with some of its Congressional Board members to urge congress to take on the issue of immigration reform. There are many questions regarding the likelihood of the House discussing immigration legislation in the midst of debates over a Continuing Resolution and the looming debt ceiling negotiations. Congressman David Valadao (CA-21) warned that immigration is starting to get pushed aside due to the Continueing Resolution, debt ceiling, and Libya debates; also stating: 'we need to get involved and we need to make sure that the leadership does not forget about the importance of this issue." Immigration reform is indeed important to FIU considering that we are one of the largest Hispanic serving institutions in the country and number 1 in the nation in awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanics.

The week ended with an event at the Organization of American States in celebration of 190 years of Central American independence, hosted by one of our own alumni, Alcides Montiel ‘91, the Deputy Chief of Mission for the Embassy of Nicaragua. The team spent the evening engaging with the diplomatic community and sharing FIU's mission. 


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 Javier Hernandez
 FIU Federal Realtions