Presidential Search Committee Meets For First Time Amid Board Changes

Miami Dade College’s Presidential Search Committee held its first meeting on March 21, laying out its official process on finding the next college president.

The news came amid changes to the Board of Trustees.

Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, announced the appointment of four new board members and the reappointment of one.

The new board members are Anay Abraham, Michael Bileca, Carlos Migoya and Marcell Felipe. The reappointment was Benjamin Leon III, the head of Leon Medical Centers.

Padrón announced his retirement on Feb. 1, culminating a near 50-year tenure at the College with almost 25 years as president.

“We need someone who understands a large and complex institution as Miami Dade College with 165,000 students, eight campuses which can be a university anywhere in the United States,” Board of Trustees chairman Bernie Navarro said, along with discussing the political ramifications of the role. “Fifty percent of our stakeholders are in Tallahassee, so there’s a lot that goes into this position.”

The Board announced the committee during their monthly meeting on March 19, with Navarro heading the task force. Notable members include Malou C, Harrison, president of North and the now-Eduardo J. Padrón Campus; Roberto Martinez, a former chair of MDC’s Board of Trustees; and Louis Wolfson, the grandson of MDC co-founder Mitchell Wolfson Jr.

Other members of the committee include MDC professors Sarah Garman, Marie Etienne and Rosany Alvarez; support staff council chair Peter Davila; Wolfson Campus Student Government Association president Carolina Mendoza; and Bettie Thompson, a former vice provost, among others.

The meeting proceeded with Carol Licko, senior counsel with Hogan Lovells and an adviser with the process, explaining the Sunshine Law, which makes the process public including access to who applied, board meetings and applicant interviews.

“So, every applicant that files will be in the public domain? No applicant can file without a name?” asked Jorge Mas, the chief executive officer of MasTec.

“That’s a great question,” Licko retorted. “The answer is absolutely yes.”

John Mestepey and Kim Morrison of Diversified Search, the search firm hired by the Board, detailed the process.

The committee will screen candidates and whittle a pool of up to 150 candidates down to approximately eight to ten. Once that is completed, they will interview the candidates in June before narrowing them down to four or five.

Afterward, the Board of Trustees will interview the candidates in July and, once they select their preferred candidate, they will seek approval from the Board of Governors in Tallahassee.

The new president’s compensation package is expected to be around $500,000, according to Mestepey.