Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management has announced a $5 million gift from Bacardi USA dedicated to a new and unique educational program tailored for the spirits industry. The gift will create the Bacardi Center of Excellence, which will position the top-ranked school as a leader in beverage management education and partner with one of the world’s most historic and leading spirits companies.
The Bacardi Center of Excellence will provide student scholarship opportunities, promote community events and provide pathways to entrepreneurship. The Bacardi Beverage Innovation Fund will be used to establish a beverage curriculum and create collaboration opportunities between Bacardi USA and FIU faculty. The Bacardi Scholarship Endowment will offer students financial assistance and establish professorships.
The gift also expands programming at FIU’s CasaCuba. CasaCuba seeks to provide a dynamic home for the discussion and study of Cuban affairs. The initiative is bringing together scholars, policymakers, business leaders, students, and the community at large to realize a multidimensional Cuban cultural center and think tank that will be housed in a state-of-the-art facility at FIU’s main campus. Family-owned Bacardi was originally founded by Don Facundo Bacardí Massó in Santiago de Cuba in 1862. Today, Bacardi Limited is the largest privately held spirits companies in the world and South Florida is home to the regional headquarters for North America.
“At FIU we are proud to partner with Bacardi, a company with deep roots in our community and a legacy of success that goes back to Cuba more than a century ago,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “This gift will fuel a perfect combination of tradition and forward-looking projects that will benefit our students and the entire community for generations.”
“We are proud to strengthen the hospitality and tourism management work at FIU while connecting with the future talent of this industry,” said Pete Carr, President of Bacardi North America. “As a company proud of its Cuba origins, we are excited to support CasaCuba and help spotlight the culture that is forever a part of our story.”
Bacardi USA’s $5 million gift will also create the Bacardi Classroom, a Bacardi Spirits Management Track, and BacardiTeach, which includes micro-credentialing opportunities for FIU students, Bacardi employees, on-premise partners and branded educational programs for bartenders. The Bacardi Scholarship Endowment will support the previously mentioned initiatives, as well as the Bacardi Scholars, a multiyear blended scholarship program.
“Our partnership with Bacardi USA will positively affect our university, our school’s programs, and the hospitality industry, plus it will greatly enhance the hands-on learning experience for our students,” said Michael Cheng, dean of the Chaplin School. “We are honored to be part of a relationship that will leave a lasting impact.”