It is with great sadness that we share news of the passing earlier today of our Founding Dean of FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs John F. Stack, Jr., who was a friend and mentor to so many Panthers throughout the last five decades. He leaves a legacy of groundbreaking work that shaped the university FIU is today.
His passion and sharp intellect live on in the thousands of students whose lives he touched, many of whom he continued mentoring long after graduation. Dean Stack, 71, was not only a brilliant scholar – his early work was foundational to ethnic studies in the US – but a kind person who was very concerned about students, the university and the community.
The Hon. Barbara Lagoa, US Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals Eleventh Circuit, graduated from FIU in 1989 and has remained a life-long friend of John.
“Professor John Stack was one of a kind. He cared deeply about his students. He taught us to think critically and to broaden our horizons. His mentorship was life changing for so many of the students, including me, who had the privilege to learn from him. He made us realize that we had unlimited opportunities, and without his mentorship, we would not have achieved the dreams that he inspired in us. I will miss him greatly,” Lagoa said.
Clayton Solomon, one of John’s former undergraduate students, wrote a piece for FIU Magazine in 2016 where he explained what a rigorous professor John was and the pivotal role his professor, mentor and friend played in his life and career.
“Like so many students who ignored their better judgment and took their classes, I am a better lawyer and person on account of his teaching and friendship,” Solomon wrote.
John came to FIU in 1976 as an instructor in the Department of Political Science and quickly rose through the faculty ranks to become professor and chair. He also served as founding director of the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy.
Before being selected to lead the newly formed School of International and Public Affairs in 2008, John was instrumental in the founding of FIU’s College of Law, serving as chair of the College of Law initiative in 2000-2001. He went on to serve as law faculty for the last two decades.
Under his leadership, in 2015, the school was named the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs in honor of Ambassador Green, a long-time supporter of FIU. Dean Stack spearheaded fundraising and lobbying for private and public funding for a new building for the recently created school. Phase two of the Green School facility is expected to open in the spring of 2023.
As Dean of the Green School, John Oversaw eight academic departments as well as 20 centers, institutes, and programs. Under his direction, the Green School grew exponentially, enrolling more than 5,000 students and employing nearly 360 faculty. The Green School grew to offer 38 degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels as well as more than 50 certificate programs.
Last year, John’s leadership led the way for the Green School’s membership in the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA), making it the first university in Florida to achieve the designation and one of only 40 globally.
Model UN was one of John’s greatest passions at FIU and as the team’s faculty advisor and biggest champion, he was instrumental in its incredible success. For more than a decade, FIU has been the top public university team in the United States and for several years, it has been in the top five among all universities.
John’s proudest moment came in 2019 when the team was named No. 1 – a first in the program’s 34-year history.
He believed the Model UN program provides students with invaluable experience as leaders, negotiators, consensus builders and critical thinkers which leads to success in life and in their careers.
The Green School has been internationally recognized for its preeminence in Latin American studies. The Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center is one of only 16 National Resource Centers recognized by the US Department of Education.
John graduated from Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, with a Bachelor of Arts with highest honors in 1972. He earned his Master of Arts (1974) and Ph.D. (1977) from the Graduate School of International Studies of the University of Denver and his JD from University of Miami’s School of Law in 1989. John is the author or co-author of 13 books and countless chapters, articles, and academic papers.
Stonehill College presented John with a Doctor of Humane Letters in 2018, recognizing his contributions as a “teacher, scholar, leader and innovator” who “devoted his career to the highest principles of education, service, and global engagement.”
He is survived by his sisters Nancy Stack Savoie, who works in our Division of Human Resources, and Pam Stack, who retired from FIU in 2015.
Soon we will announce an event for the university community to come together to celebrate the life and legacy of John.
Funeral services are scheduled as follows:
Visitation will be Thursday, July 7, 2022 from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Stanfill Funeral Home, 10545 South Dixie Highway.
Funeral Mass will be Friday, July 8, 2022 at 11:00 am at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary – St. Richard, 7500 SW 152 St., Palmetto Bay.
Interment will follow at Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery, 11411 NW 25 St., Doral.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the John F. Stack, Jr. First Generation Scholarship Fund.
Please join us in supporting the Stack family and many friends during this difficult time.
Kenneth A. Jessell
Elizabeth M. Bejar
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President