To celebrate the university’s 50th anniversary, FIU News is sharing 50 moments in FIU’s history as part of our “50@50″ series.
Retiring College of Arts & Sciences Associate Dean Gisela Casines has participated in countless commencement ceremonies at FIU throughout the years.
But Casines will always fondly remember one that took place almost 42 years ago, when she was among the first group of FIU students to receive a degree from the university June 16, 1973.
The hard work and efforts of students like Casines and the pioneers who helped launch the university paid off as 191 graduates participated in FIU’s first commencement ceremony on the first floor of Primera Casa.
“When I go to commencement ceremonies now, I remember how exciting that evening was,” said Casines, who received a bachelor’s degree in English.
Despite rain and thunder threatening to ruin the day, students made their way from Deuxieme Maison to Primera Casa under the covered walkway to the reading room of the library (then housed on the first floor of PC) where the ceremony was held.
In his remarks to the 1,500 people gathered in the room, President Charles “Chuck” Perry thanked the group of students for “choosing to come to a new university, yet untried, yet untested; for your confidence in us, your faith that we should indeed provide a quality academic program. You have given us every bit as much as we have tried to give to you. From you, we have learned to make the machinery of a university actually work.”
Casines transferred to FIU from the University of Florida for her senior year and immediately immersed herself in university life.
As a student, Casines was a member of a committee that helped create and ratify the university’s first student government constitution and another that formed the “Sunblazers” nickname and mascot.
She later became a faculty member at FIU in 1981 and was named dean of the College of Arts & Sciences in 1992, always grateful for the opportunity to play a role in shaping the university’s history during its earliest days.
“One of the reasons I’m so glad that I came back to FIU was that there was always a sense of things that needed to be created,” Casines said. “When you’re an active participant in history, that becomes ingrained in you.”
This post first appeared on FIU News.