Miami Dade College is a community jewel — and a national model of what public education should be. As such, its presidency is no place for a political hack to bring a less-than-laser focus to maintaining its academic excellence. It is no place to give some term-limited state lawmaker a cushy landing. And it is definitely not a place for someone who doesn’t meet the standards that have kept MDC a beacon of service to its community and the people who rely on it for everything from vital skills training to the Miami Book Fair International.
However, that’s the twisted vision of some of MDC’s newest board members. Having served less than six months, at least three of the four appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis are adamant that that MDC’s next president doesn’t have to have a Ph.D. or deep administrative experience to run this college of eight campuses and scores of programs, in a multitude of disciplines.
Their lockstep stance can mean only one thing: The fix is in. For a political toady. For an ideological minion. For someone unworthy of the position.TOP ARTICLES SKIP AD
Carlos Migoya, who as president and CEO of Jackson Health System swooped in and pulled the ailing healthcare complex back from the brink, appears to be the swing vote here.
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On Thursday morning, when MDC’s board meets to decide whether to kick the legs out from under this venerable institution, we urge Migoya to say an emphatic No. He of all people should understand what it means to lead a venerable community institution. One that is beloved, challenged and, ultimately, a linchpin in this community’s wellbeing, prosperity and quality of life.
Since it opened in 1960, then called Dade County Junior College, MDC has had three stellar presidents — Jerry Masiko, Robert McCabe and Eduardo Padrón, who is retiring this year. They were steeped in education, capable administrators who cared deeply for the people the college served. MDC has gained national admiration as an academic powerhouse, especially for low-income, older and minority students.
An angry group of former administrators and staffers, concerned about how the push to diminish the requirements to lead MDC will affect the popular college, have united to expose and stop the trustees’ political maneuvering.
Among them is Kathie Sigler, an MDC provost emeritus. “Our last three presidents helped make the college an incredible place. They were all wonderful leaders. What happens to the college when you appoint someone who doesn’t meet the standard for a president we’ve had in place for years?” Sigler astutely asked in a conversation with the Editorial Board.
We know the answer.
By doing away with those requirements at the 11th hour, the trustees are opening the door for someone who is a political appointee, not an elite educator. That is not what MDC needs. MDC needs a president who responds to community priorities, not political directives. That’s been the beauty of MDC for all these years. It has proven its ability to pivot to fulfill education gaps. MDC kicked its nursing program into high gear when there was a shortage of trained nurses a while back. When airlines ceased to operate locally, MDC was there to retrain out-of-work employees.
Thursday, trustees, and especially Migoya, must put community needs first. Otherwise, the future of Miami Dade College is in grave danger.
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