Alumni Spotlight

Reliving FIU’s history

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how FIU’s first buildings got their diverse names, FIU alumna Dr. Diane Spurlock ’75 has your answer.

Actually, she was directly involved in the process as the chair of a student committee that was established to serve as the official liaison between the FIU administration and the student body.

During her term as chair, members of the committee were commissioned by President Charles E. Perry to name the buildings in a way that would represent FIU’s “international” population. As natural leaders, Dr. Spurlock and the committee took this opportunity to make FIU history.

Hoping to represent the international backgrounds of the students, the buildings were then named in five different languages:

  • Primera Casa – Spanish for “first house”
  • Deuxième Maison – French for “second house”
  • Athenaeum (now the Green Library) – coming from the Greek word “Athenaeum”, which was applied to the buildings in ancient Greece dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and the arts.
  • Viertes Haus – German for “fourth house”
  • Owa Ehan – Swahili for “fifth house”

Dr. Spurlock’s natural trailblazing spirit always guided her through her academic endeavors. As the first in her family to pursue higher education, she was not only asked to spearhead the first student body committee, but she was also a proud part of FIU’s inaugural class and directly involved in creating the first student body constitution. She was also among the first six students to take part in — and complete — a computer based doctoral program at Nova Southeastern University, when distance-based learning was first reaching the academic world.

Higher education and all the doors it opens up, she feels, is invaluable. “I was able to do so many things [that] without an education I would’ve never been able to do,” Dr. Spurlock expresses.

However, she notes that it’s important for students to take the reins and make the most out of their University education, as well as realize how much better they’re going to be for sticking it out.

“Interface with other students on campus when taking courses, find out what professor teach the way you learn, understand the way you learn, understand the kinds of activities you like to do, in order to get the most out of the courses you’re taking. Find professors and study partners who can work with you this way,” she shares.

On February 3 – 4, Dr. Spurlock visited her alma mater and had to opportunity to meet with President Rosenberg and five current Student Government Association officers. During her tour of campus, she was shown the immense growth and change our university has undergone.

Dr. Spurlock also relived the important role she played in FIU’s history, leaving her with an even stronger sense of Panther Pride.

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