Founding faculty member’s legacy lives on through scholarship

This story was initially published in FIU News by Isabel Gamarra. 

Robert V. Farrell, or Dr. Bob as he was known, came to FIU as an assistant professor in the summer 1972. His good friend Steve Fain (currently the chair of FIU’s Ignite Campaign) invited him to be a part of the founding faculty of a new type of university. Farrell jumped on his boat and sailed from New York to Miami to teach at the FIU College of Education.

Farrell quickly became an FIU star and one of its fiercest advocates. In 1977, he was promoted to associate professor and, in 1988, he assumed the chairmanship of his department. Farrell founded the Peace Corps Fellows Program at the university and served as a Fulbright fellow in Ecuador. He was also co-editor of UNESCO’s Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems’ Volume on Education for Sustainability; pursued a master’s in earth and environment while at FIU; and taught many courses in environmental education at the International and Intercultural Education Master of Science Program.

In December 2016, Farrell passsed away unexpectedly. To honor his contributions to FIU and students, Farrell’s family, colleagues and friends started a scholarship in his name.

“Bob was always hungry for adventure and driven by a need to experience as much of life as possible in whatever time he had,” says his wife, Jill Beloff Farrell, who holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction/instructional leadership from FIU and serves as dean of the Adrian Dominican School of Education at Barry University. “He was passionate about the world and deeply concerned about its future. He was an advocate for global citizenship.”

The Robert V. Farrell Global Learning Scholarship in Sustainable Development awards two $500 scholarships yearly to students who are pursuing globally focused research and practice in sustainable development, particularly students who are enrolled in the Peace Corps Prep or Global Learning Medallion program at FIU.

Lauren Zulueta and Amelia Leon, both Global Learning Medallion students, were the 2019 Robert V. Farrell Global Learning Scholarship in Sustainable Development recipients. Leon is working on building FIU’s sustainable arboretum and Zulueta is working on a nonprofit that will provide nutritional food and medical supplies as well as education on preventable foodborne diseases to the local community.

“Bob was one of the crazy ones, the misfits and nonconformists,” Beloff Farrel says. “Now he is giving students who have his same drive the opportunity to be the same.”

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