Donor Spotlight

At FIU, our donors are our partners. Private support ensures that we are able to provide critical financial support to help our students succeed; fund research that is improving the lives of our community and abroad while pushing the boundaries of discovery; and develop innovative programming and curricula that put FIU at the forefront of teaching and learning. Take a moment to meet just a few of those who are investing in our university.

Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim

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. 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.

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. Read more about the Wertheims >

Pictured: Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim

Richard Brilliant
Pictured: Richard Brilliant MS '93, chairperson of the FIU Foundation Board of Directors

Richard Brilliant MS '93

As part of the Next Horizon “crew,” Richard Brilliant MS ’93 plays an integral role in the university’s comprehensive fundraising campaign. He and his employer, Carnival Corporation, have for years helped pilot the ship at the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, where they have contributed expertise and funding to ensure smooth sailing for motivated students.

A master’s program in hospitality and tourism that included industry experience through an internship, coupled with the support of mentor Elisa Moncarz, a professor emerita with whom he remains close, eventually led to Brilliant's first full-time job in the cruise industry. That would launch his long and successful career, which today includes two decades with Carnival, where he is senior vice president and chief audit officer. He and his family have created scholarships to support hospitality students, as well as donated to relief funds for students affected by recent hurricanes—and why he encourages the Carnival Foundation, which has donated millions to support FIU scholarships and learning facilities, to keep FIU in mind. Read more about Richard Brilliant >

“The truth is FIU gave me an opportunity that no other four-year school could, either financially or distance-wise. What FIU did for me and, subsequently, for my life and career, I can never repay. So, my time, talent and treasure go only to the Panther Nation!”

Eduardo Hondal '88, MS '00

Drs. Yolangel Hernandez Suarez and Jeffrey Simmons

Drs. Yolangel Hernandez Suarez and Jeffrey Simmons made a $2 million gift to FIU Embrace to establish the Simmons+Hernandez Suarez Fellowship Program. The fellowship will support professionals who take an interdisciplinary approach to solving the complex and multi-faceted issues facing adults with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.

For the couple, the mission of FIU Embrace is very personal: Hernandez Suarez, vice provost for Population Health at FIU, and Simmons, a cardiologist and an executive at Humana, have two children who are participants in FIU Embrace. The two doctors are former faculty members of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and among the founders of FIU Embrace. Read more about FIU Embrace >

Drs. Jeffrey Simmons and Yolangel Hernandez Suarez
Pictured: Drs. Jeffrey Simmons and Yolangel Hernandez Suarez


Chad Moss
Pictured: Chad Moss '94

Chad Moss '94

Last year, alumnus Chad Moss '94 and his family made a $10 million gift to FIU's school of construction to support student scholarships and provide funding to hire world-class faculty; recruit top graduate and undergraduate students; advance research and innovation at the school; and offer safety and skills workshops and continuing education programs to the South Florida community. 

In recognition of this landmark gift – the largest ever made by an alumnus – the school was renamed in his honor as the Moss School of Construction, Infrastructure and Sustainability. 

Moss, the executive vice president of Moss & Associates, credits much of his success to his FIU education. He feels the university provided not only him, but many of the FIU graduates his company has hired, with a solid foundation in the construction management profession. Read more about Chad Moss >