For the past twenty-four years, Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón labored to turn Miami-Dade College around. It used to be the “safety school” for South Floridians. It was place you could go when no other college would take you.
But nobody thinks that anymore.
Today, Miami-Dade College (it’s now a full four-year educational institution) is the largest college in the United States. The 165,000-person student body is larger than the populations of North Miami, Homestead, and Coral Gables combined. Its reputation as an educational institution of quality is largely due to the leadership of Dr. Padrón.
Dr. Padrón served as a faculty member at MDC and became the school’s president in 1995. He’s an economist by training and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Florida. He recently retired as President of MDC.
That began a series of political machinations as devious as anything that George R.R. Martin dreamed up in Game of Thrones.
The college trustees are not meeting May 30 to select a new president but to consider lowering the minimum requirements for the job. The current minimum requirements are appropriate and consistent with higher education. The college’s webpage describing the position, laying out three minimum requirements: a Ph.D. from a regionally accredited university; a minimum of ten years of senior level management experience, six of which must be in academic administration; and demonstrated leadership and innovative accomplishments in the area of academic and student service programs and/or administrative, financial, and operational areas.
Seems simple enough, right?
The two leading candidates that MDC’s Board of Trustees will be considering are politically connected but do not have any background in running an institution of higher education. Neither meets the minimum requirements for the position.
The people of Miami-Dade County deserve better than to have this position treated as a political plum. Miami-Dade College is one of the engines, together with FIU, that fires up and supports our local economy.
Ironically, the person who holds the swing vote is Carlos A. Migoya, the CEO of the Jackson Health System. Migoya understands what it’s like to take a lackluster institution and turn it into a center of excellence. Jackson Memorial used to be the hospital of last resort, a place that only the dying, destitute, and uninsured went. No longer. Jackson Health provides world-quality health care and Migoya is responsible for assembling the team that got that done.
Now, Carlos Migoya faces a tough choice. Does he bow to political pressure? Politicos in Tallahassee are hoping that he does.
If this were Jackson Memorial we were talking about, the choice would be clear. I’m confident that Migoya would reject the idea of making a first-year resident the chief of oncology or surgery or pediatrics. They wouldn’t have the background and experience to do the job.
To put politics above all else is to risk the 24 years of improvements that Dr. Padrón accomplished and return Miami-Dade to its former status.
It will become nothing more than a safety school once more.
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