The history of Florida International University (FIU) dates back to 1943, when then-Senator Ernest Graham presented the initial proposal for the creation of a public institution of higher learning in South Florida to the state legislature. Although Senator Graham’s bill did not pass, he was persistent in presenting the proposal to his colleagues, counselling them on the state’s need for its own university. Senator Graham felt that the creation of a public university was absolutely necessary in order to serve the increasing population of the city.
Florida Senator Robert M. Haverfield introduced Senate Bill 711 in 1964. The bill instructed the Board of Regents and the state Board of Education to start the process for the establishment of a state university in Miami. Governor W. Haydon Burns signed the bill into law in June 1965, thus marking Florida International University’s official founding.
The Board of Regents appointed the founding president of FIU, Charles “Chuck” Perry, as FIU’s founding president in July 1969 after conducting a national search. At just 32 years of age, Perry was the youngest president in the State University System’s record and at that time, he was also the youngest university president in the nation. Perry went on to recruit 3 co-founders, Donald McDowell, Nick Sileo and Butler Waugh. The founders located FIU’s campus on Tamiami Airport’s original site. The airport’s deserted air traffic control tower became Florida International University’s first building. The tower initially had no drinking water, no phone and no furniture. Charles Perry made a decision that the tower should NEVER be demolished, the building still remains on FIU campus, where it is referred to as the the Tower Building, Public Safety Tower, and Ivory Tower. The building is also the former site of the Florida International University Police Department.