Florida International University and its Department of Journalism + Media, within the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA), announced a $10 million naming gift from philanthropists Mr. and Mrs. Lee Caplin establishing the Lee Caplin School of Journalism & Media.
The gift, one of the largest donations to a journalism and media program in the State University System of Florida, supports and underscores the Caplin School’s commitment to inclusivity (86% of students identify as a minority), access to excellence and preparing career-ready, multilingual (English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole) professionals in the fields of journalism, digital media, animation, broadcast media, and film.
“In support of the dynamic leadership and vision of President Kenneth Jessell, I am delighted to invest in the evolution of this extraordinary university’s programs and the vibrant communities it serves so well,” Lee Caplin said.
“FIU reflects the diversity and promise of our times. This gift will enable the university to continue its unique trajectory and further enhance its graduates’ success.”
The gift will support a wide range of initiatives to support students, including: enhancements to the curriculum, faculty, and professional staff to ensure graduates are prepared for interdisciplinary, high-demand professions in the fields of journalism, immersive and interactive digital media, and film, strengthening of the award-winning multilingual South Florida Media Network, the school’s flagship outlet providing opportunities to learn and innovate in a full-immersion professional learning environment that produces news, information and community engagement, with news bureaus in Miami and Washington, D.C.
The naming gift will further support engaging, inclusive, content-producing coursework that supports an experiential “learn by doing” teaching philosophy and provides skill sets to combat misinformation and disinformation, a diverse, dedicated, innovative, and acclaimed faculty of practitioners and scholars, instruction in the use of industry standard equipment, software, and the latest immersive and emerging technologies, capital improvements to facilities and equipment to support signature learning spaces and state-of-the-art equipment and materials, student scholarships and financial assistance.
“Mr. Caplin’s historic gift will have an extraordinary impact on FIU and fields of study that are vital to our democratic society,” said FIU President Kenneth A. Jessell. “The Lee Caplin School of Journalism & Media’s vision uniquely positions us to be a leading force shaping the next generation of great journalists and media professionals.”
“Our school of journalism has a great track record of educating award-winning journalists and our alumni are leading in newsrooms in South Florida and beyond,” said FIU’s Board of Trustees Chair Dean C. Colson. “The Caplin investment will help our faculty innovate and propel the program to new heights.”
A previous $1.2 million gift from Mr. Caplin to CARTA created the Immersive Studio for Altered Reality (iSTAR), which provides training and instruction, consulting, and development and testing of multimedia experiences in Extended Reality (XR) – technologies that include virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality.
“Mr. Caplin’s gift is a transformational investment in our journalism and media programs,” said CARTA Dean Brian Schriner.
“We are grateful for his investments in the college, which mirror his inspired and influential professional accomplishments. We look forward to the Caplin School and our South Florida Media Network, which is at the core of our commitment to experiential learning, becoming synonymous with cutting-edge journalism and media excellence.”
Lee Caplin is Founder and Chairman of Picture Entertainment Corporation, a motion picture, television and theatrical production company that Executive Produced the Sony-Columbia Pictures $115 million Academy Award nominated feature film release, Ali, starring Will Smith.
Executive Producer of the Literary Estate of Nobel Laureate William Faulkner, Mr. Caplin has been a leader in the multimedia and telecommunications industry for over 25 years. He Co-Founded Penske Media, owner of such iconic entertainment brands as Variety, Rolling Stone, Robb Report, and Women’s Wear Daily; and recently founded the Immersive Studio for Altered Reality (iStar) at Miami’s Florida International University, teaching students how to produce Virtual Reality programming for film and television.
An attorney, entrepreneur, and educator, Mr. Caplin has published over 200 titles of graphic novels and illustrated children’s books; his own book The Business of Art, is a three-time International Best Seller.
He served as the Special Assistant Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts under President Carter, was honored as a Founding Faculty member of California State University’s high-tech campus at Monterey Bay in establishing its Telecommunications program.
Mr. Caplin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Duke University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia Law School, where he was an Editor of the Virginia Law Review.
“Ensuring student success and serving our diverse communities are central to the university’s mission,” said Howard R. Lipman, CEO of the FIU Foundation. “We are thankful for Mr. Caplin’s generosity and his commitment to our students and the advancement of FIU.”
Caplin’s gift benefits FIU’s Next Horizon campaign, which is advancing student success and research excellence at the university.