Office of the Dean Directory
Appointed Dean in 2011, Brian has over 26 years of higher education teaching and administrative experience. Under his leadership and and the faculty’s expertise, the College of Communication, Architecture, + The Arts’ (CARTA) has ascended to national prominence. Fully committed to a trans-disciplinary mission to drive the information, innovation, and cultural economy of South Florida, in five years CARTA has strategically grown from 1,200 students to more than 4,000 students and from 70 full-time faculty members to 125; raised nearly $20M in philanthropy and auxiliary revenues in support of the students’ success; and annually exceeds $25M in total revenues. In support of the University’s commitment to community engagement, Brian expanded the College to Miami Beach and launched the CARTA | Miami Beach Urban Studios in the iconic 420 Building on Lincoln Road, where now more than 100 graduate students in design, visual arts, and the performing arts work collaboratively with members of the community and work in the CARTA Innovation Lab. In addition to his administrative work as Dean, Brian is an accomplished author having published five books and numerous scholarly articles. He is also a past recipient of FIU’s prestigious Teaching Incentive Award, has been named Instructor of the Year, and has twice been named to FIU’s College of Business Administration’s Circle of Excellence For Teaching.
Administration and oversight of the College’s strategic planning, student success initiatives, Human Resources, and Finance operations. Lilia Silverio-Minaya holds undergraduate (2005) and graduate degrees (2007) from FIU. She started the PhD as a part time student in Fall 2015 and is currently ABD. Her dissertation examines the impacts of performance-based funding in higher education which falls under the broader research areas of performance, public and finance management. She has over 10 years of relevant experience in higher education and is fluent in Spanish and English.
Coordination of the hiring, development, assessment and assignment of the College’s faculty and the coordination of the assessment of the College’s academic programs. Marilys R. Nepomechie, FAIA, is also a Professor, practicing architect and 2015-16 President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Her professional and academic projects – focused on urban resilience and on the design of sustainable, affordable housing and infrastructure – are included in the archives of the National Building Museum. Funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the CINTAS Foundation, her work has been honored with over 40 design and research awards, national and international exhibition, and wide publication.
Administration, oversight, growth, promotion, and financial sustainability of CARTA | MBUS. John Stuart, AIA, is the Director of Miami Beach Urban Studios, and Professor, is a practicing registered architect in the State of Florida. He is also an architectural historian and a visual artist developing collaborative research projects on complexity, community, identity, technology, the environment and public space with funding from Van Alen Institute, The National Endowment for the Arts, The National Science Foundation, The National Endowment for the Humanities, and The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
Administration and oversight of the College’s public relations, marketing, advertising, and special events. María Elena Villar is also an associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication at the School of Communication + Journalism at Florida International University and teaches courses in communication theory, research methods, multicultural communication, and advanced seminars in strategic communications. She holds a doctorate in communications and master’s in public health from the University of Miami, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Columbia University.
Maria G. Claverie holds a master’s degree in International Development Education from FIU. She has worked in higher education for more than 15 years and joined the CARTA team in 2011. Maria oversees the planning of alumni events, serves as the CARTA Alumni Liaison to the central Alumni Office, and engages alumni in the life of the College. She is also responsible for identifying prospective alumni donors and matching their philanthropic priorities with the College’s needs and their engagement with the Annual Fund. Maria also identifies, manages, and processes sponsorships for CARTA.
Mr. Ionita has more than 20 years of fundraising experience, working for prestigious organizations including Jazz at Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic, Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Architecture, Design & the Arts. He has also served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
He holds a Bachelor in Music Performance from The Juilliard School and a Masters of Arts in Performing Arts Administration from New York University (NYU).
Mr. Ionita partners with Dean Schriner and CARTA faculty and staff to identify strategic priorities and generate philanthropic support for the College.
Administration and oversight of the Ratcliffe Arts + Design Incubator. Jacek J. Kolasinski is also a New-Media artist, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the Art + Art History Department at Florida International University. He came to the United States from Poland where he studied history and philosophy at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations. Kolasinski received his MFA and BFA from Florida International University in Miami.
Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver
Director of The Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Center For The Advancement of Women in Communication
Dr. Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver is also dean emeritus and professor of the SJMC. She was named the Outstanding Woman in Journalism and Mass Communication Education for 2009 by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. A nationally known expert and researcher on the First Amendment, the scholastic and collegiate press, and the role and status of women in communication, she is the author of more than 115 scholarly articles, monographs and books.
She is past president of AEJMC, College Media Advisers, the Student Press Law Center, and the Community College Journalism Association. She holds the Wells Memorial Key from the Society of Professional Journalists, only the second woman in the history of the organization to win that award at that time, the CMA Distinguished Service Award, the AEJMC Newspaper Division Distinguished Service Award, the AEJMC Outstanding Leadership Award, the FIU Alumni Association Outstanding Faculty Torch Award and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Rowan University. In 2011 she was awarded FIU’s Distinguished University Service Medallion for her outstanding contributions to FIU, as well as her distinguished service to the profession and the community.
Oversight of all interior and exterior aspects of all CARTA Facilities (MMC, BBC, MBUS, MANA). Since becoming Director, Mark Marine has overseen the construction and renovation of several CARTA facilities, including: DM-150 theatre renovation, VH-100 photography lab, Sculpture Lab and Workshops, W-01C Ceramic Lab, Paul Cejas School of Architecture building, as well as overseeing the rental of all CARTA auxiliary spaces such as the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center, Miami Beach Urban Studios (MBUS), and Theatre rentals. Mark received his Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from FIU in 2000 and his Master of Architecture from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2003.
Shahin Vassigh has a Master of Architecture, Master of Urban Planning, and Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. She has considerable professional experience through her work at various consulting engineering firms ranging from bridge design/analysis to large-scale building construction and design. She has built a nationally recognized body of research work focused on improving structures and technology education by developing alternative teaching pedagogies that utilize digital media.
Hansel de Haro, Web Master, is responsible for designing and managing the College’s websites, while also providing IT and technical support for the Dean’s Office. Hansel has a master’s degree in Architecture from FIU and stayed within the CARTA family after graduating.
Nicole Kolich, Senior Special Events Manager, serves as the lead for CARTA events involving the Dean, and provides support and counsel to other CARTA units regarding event protocol. She graduated from FIU in 2004 with her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Bachelor of Science in Communications. Nicole has over 13 years experience in event management and protocol. She is pursuing a masters in Global Strategic Communications.
Jessica Szmuler, Administrative Assistant, provides support to the Director of Development for the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA). Jessica assists with prospect research, donor related materials, meetings, calendars, travel and events. Jessica joins FIU with 25 years of administrative experience, programming and fundraising, including 16 years of working for non-profit organizations. Jessica is fluent in both English and Spanish.
Linda Woolfson, Senior Executive Assistant to Dr. Brian Schriner, Dean of the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts and to Lilia Silverio-Minaya, Executive Director of Operations. Linda provides executive office support, calendar maintenance and facilitation of meeting arrangements, and processing of visit requests. Linda has over 20 years of experience in Executive Administration, Office Management, and Event Planning. Her well-rounded experience represents strong analytical skills, staff and office management, event coordination, and fundraising.
Regina Bailey, Senior Arts Manager of Arts @ FIU, works collaboratively across the university, and specifically with the Arts @ FIU Task Force, developing a plan for the ARTS; expanding opportunities for student success; increasing funded research and creative opportunities and establishing a focused, inclusive branding campaign that elevates the arts. She has been engaged in the arts at FIU for over 25 years as a staff member of The Wolfsonian – FIU and the Art Museum at FIU. In addition, she is a Senior Fellow in the Honors College. She holds an MFA from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York.
Alexandra Rokaw, Financial Analyst II, works directly with the Assistant Director of Finance in the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) in the preparation of the annual budget, and the allocation of operating funds within the College. Alexandra manages the daily operating budgets for all funds in the Office of the Dean, Miami Beach Urban Studios (MBUS), and FIU CARTA @ Mana Wynwood, including E&G, Auxiliary, Foundation, and Grants. She has a Master of Public Administration with a Certificate in Public Finance, Procurement, and Contract Management, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.
Rashida Taylor, Assistant Director of Finance, is responsible for the development of annual budgets, salary forecasts, financial statements, and expense approvals for the departments on the MMC campus . She graduated from FIU with a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting in 2011, later obtaining a Master of Accounting from FIU’s Graduate School of Accounting in 2012. She began working at FIU in 2008 as a student and then working full time within the CARTA Dean’s Office in 2012.
Sunem Roque, Human Resources Manager for the Office of the Dean for College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA). In this capacity Sunem works with the Executive Director of Operations on the planning, implementation and coordination of human resources activities to maximize the strategic use of resources. Sunem has a Master’s of Science in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Florida International University. Sunem also facilitates FIU’s Service Excellence trainings with the purpose of training staff on FIU’s customer service standards. To this extent, Sunem aims to provide outstanding customer service, as well as to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. Her primary focus is on the day-to-day activities for issues related to Administrative and staff positions within CARTA.
Sharon Spallone, Human Resources Coordinator for the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts, served in the U.S Army for 10 years and has over 20 years of experience in Executive Administration and Office Management. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree from FIU in Business Administration.
Michael Aquino, Program Assistant of the Miami Urban Futures Initiative, graduated from FIU with a degree in Business Administration in Management with a minor in Global Media Communications. Prior to joining the CARTA family, he provided direct assistance to the operations unit, under the MBA programs, for the FIU Chapman Graduate School of Business at FIU Downtown in Brickell. With an extensive background serving in various councils within the FIU community, he brings valuable experience working within the university’s student and academic affairs.
Maria Calderin was born in Cuba and arrived in the United States with her family in 1961. She graduated from Miami Dade College with an associate’s degree. She worked at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Atmospheric Sciences for 19 years as an Administrative Assistant. From 2010 to 2011, she worked as a temporary employee at the FIU College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts, and then as Office Manager at the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts | Miami Beach Urban Studios since its opening in September 2011. In March 2015, she became the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts’s Office Coordinator for the Student Services and Advising Center.
Bernadette Chung serves as the Assistant Director, Academic Support Services for the School of Architecture, School of Music, Department of Art + Art History and Department of Theatre. Bernadette has been working at Florida International University for over 11 years with her career starting at the MOSS School of Construction for 8 years holding different capacities. She then joined FIU Online as a Senior Instructional Designer for four years and recently joined the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts in July 2018. She earned both her degrees at FIU, BS in Hospitality Management and MS in Higher Education Administration.
Linda Lara comes to CARTA with over 14 years of Academic Advising experience. She started career in advising at Miami Dade College. She then transitioned to FIU’s College of Arts & Sciences in 2008 as an Academic Advisor and was later promoted to Assistant Director of Advising Services at the Biscayne Bay Campus in 2010. She led the advising team and provided support services to the Dean’s Office. She earned two degrees from FIU: BA in Psychology, and MS in Higher Education Administration with a concentration in Student Affairs in 2007. In 2016, she was recognized by her peers and received the Significant Impact on Advising Community and Advising Partner Award. She is an optimistic, well-rounded, compassionate, and versatile leader. She also enjoys mentoring, teaching and leading a group of like-minded individuals who are innovative, and proactive with achieving results. Linda now serves as Assistant Director, of Academic Support Services for the School of Communication + Journalism.