Close-Up of Charles and Betty Perry in their Palm Beach Home

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Florida International University
Perry; Charles E. 1937-1999; First President of Florida International University; FIU; Founding President; Betty Perry; Betty Laird Perry; Palm Beach
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Close-Up of Charles and Betty Perry in their Palm Beach Home.Charles Edward Perry (Chuck), 1937-1999, was the founding president of Florida International University in Miami, Florida. He grew up in Logan County, West Virginia and received his bachelor's and masters's degrees from Bowling Green State University. He married Betty Laird in 1960. In 1969, at the age of 32, Perry was the youngest president of any university in the nation. The name of the university reflects Perry’s desire for a title that would not limit the scope of the institution and would support his vision of having close ties to Latin America. Perry and a founding corps opened FIU to 5,667 students in 1972 with only one large building housing six different schools. Perry left the office of President of FIU in 1976 when the student body had grown to 10,000 students and the university had six buildings, offered 134 different degrees and was fully accredited. Charles Perry died on August 30, 1999 at his home in Rockwall, Texas. He is buried on the FIU campus in front of the Graham Center entrance.Betty Laird Perry was born Betty Laird in Ashland, Ohio. She attended Akron General Hospital School of Nursing, where she was the president of the Akron, Ohio TriCity Student Government Association. She received a 3 year diploma in nursing in 1960 and took her state board exams for licensure as an RN that same year. Ultimately, she became licensed in Ohio, Florida and Texas. She met Charles Perry in 1959 and the couple married on September 17, 1960, in Ashland, Ohio; the same week of her graduation. Betty began her nursing career at the Bowling Green State University campus Health Center while Chuck worked on the Admissions staff. In 1974, Mrs. Perry received her BSN from Florida International University and in 1985 she earned a Master's Degree in Healthcare Policy and Planning from Georgia State University. She went on to start her own business, BC Golf, Ltd., in 1992 where she was recognized by Cambridge’s Who's Who for demonstrating dedication, leadership and excellence in business management. Betty’s passion for art is reflected in the Student Art Award at Florida International University which she and Charles Perry started. In 2010-2011, Betty made a generous donation to the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum Building Fund at Florida International University where she has a gallery named in her honor that is dedicated to student, faculty, and alumni exhibitions.