FIU Should Not Have Hired Alexander Acosta

“Alex Acosta is a thoughtful, conscientious American who is dedicated to excellence, integrity and public service. We are proud that he is the first Hispanic nominated to serve in President Trump’s cabinet,” said FIU President Mark Rosenberg in 2017 about FIU College of Law’s former dean.

Now, integrity and dedication to excellence are the last things people would associate with the disgraced Labor Secretary.

Acosta resigned from his position on Friday after receiving criticism for his involvement with billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s case when he was a federal prosecutor.

In 2008, Acosta agreed to a plea deal whereby Epstein, who was accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls, would only serve 13 months in jail. During his sentence, Epstein was allowed to leave prison six days a week to work at his office for 12 hours a day. 

In a news conference on Wednesday, July 10, Acosta tried to justify his actions in the 2008 Epstein case, saying the original charge, which came from the district attorney of Palm Beach County, would not result in jail time. Without federal involvement, the state would have let Epstein “walk free,” said Acosta. He also didn’t apologize to Epstein’s victims during the conference.

Two days later, he resigned from President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.

Because he was dean of FIU Law from 2009 to 2017, Acosta’s actions raise questions about the University’s judgment. To put him at the head of one of the top 50 public law schools in the country was not only irresponsible but damaging to the school’s reputation.

The vetting process was either criminally inept or the search committee chose to ignore the “sweetheart” deal Acosta cut Epstein. If the University knew about Acosta’s involvement with Epstein when they hired him as dean in 2009, it shouldn’t have hired him in the first place. FIU Law and its search committee should hold itself accountable for overlooking such a crucial part of Acosta’s career when he was chosen as dean. 

While Acosta was by all benchmarks a good dean, raising money and bar passage rates, his appointment to Trump’s cabinet was problematic from the start.

In August 2017, 47 FIU Law graduates wrote to Acosta asking him to resign due to the Trump administration’s “digressive view” of the nation, according to the Miami New Times.

“Your appointment as Secretary of Labor was a historical moment for the College of Law. Unfortunately, it is now apparent that your appointment is on the wrong side of history,” read the letter sent to Acosta. “As a cabinet member in an administration that actively demonizes minorities, usurps the rule of law, and demonstrates incompetence in leadership you are complicit in the actions of the President.”

Acosta has proven to be complicit to figures of authority such as Trump and Epstein, both of whom have a relationship that stretches back to the 1980s.

FIU should have noticed Acosta’s failure in the Epstein case and taken action against this behavior a decade ago. 

Under no circumstances should Acosta return to FIU as dean of the College of Law, nor as a faculty or staff member. The college’s students, as well as all FIU students, deserve an apology from President Rosenberg for associating with this now disgraced public official.

It’s time that the University hold their faculty and employees to a higher standard.

Featured photo by Gage Skidmore on Wikicommons.

2 Comments on "FIU Should Not Have Hired Alexander Acosta"

  1. “Integrity and public service…”
    If you Mr Rosenberg have any integrity yourself – resign.

  2. JOSE CARRILLO | July 23, 2019 at 8:45 AM | Reply

    Look closely and you will find that under Acosta’s leadership at FIU, his law professors were part of another fix at FIU.

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