Education

Who will be Miami Dade College’s next president? These candidates will be interviewed

Eduardo J. Padrón celebrates the renaming of Southwest 6th Street and of the InterAmerican Campus

Miami Dade College President Eduardo J. Padron speaks during the ceremony to rename InterAmerican Campus the Eduardo J. Padron Campus in Little Havana on Friday, May 17, 2019.
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Miami Dade College President Eduardo J. Padron speaks during the ceremony to rename InterAmerican Campus the Eduardo J. Padron Campus in Little Havana on Friday, May 17, 2019.

The people charged with finding Miami Dade College’s next president have selected the candidates to be interviewed for the job.

The presidential selection committee on Thursday whittled a list of 10 “active” candidates down to seven, although there is room for an exceptional candidate to apply and snag an interview spot. The 17 committee members rattled off their top picks (they were each told to pick up to eight candidates) and then voted to eliminate the three candidates with the fewest votes.

Four candidates were unanimously picked for interviews. They are, in alphabetical order, Paul Broadie of Gateway Community College and Housatonic Community College in Connecticut, Divina Grossman of University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, Frank Lamas of California State University, Fresno, and Lenore Rodicio, MDC’s executive vice president and provost and sole internal candidate in that group.

Reagan Romali of Long Beach Community College District/Long Beach City College won 16 votes, Carlos Turner Cortez of San Diego Community College District received 12 votes and Beverly Moore-Garcia, the second internal candidate and former president of MDC’s Kendall and West campuses, got 11 votes. Candidates Carlos Padin Bibiloni of Universidad Metropolitana (seven votes), Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm of The Nature Conservancy (five votes) and Bryan Reece of Norco College (two votes) were eliminated.

Before holding the vote, the representatives from Diversified Search, the headhunting firm contracted for the presidential search gave a quick rundown of each candidate. Committee members asked about candidates’ governmental affairs and fundraising track records — must-have skills. The college’s Board of Trustees nearly dropped academia-leaning requirements to cast a broader net for non-traditional candidates.

“It seems like we’re getting a great crop of leaders in this field,” said Bernie Navarro, chair of the search committee and the college’s Board of Trustees. “I think with the candidates we’re seeing, we’re seeing strong backing in things that are important to this community.”

Candidates will be interviewed by the committee via video conference on June 19 and 20 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Paul Broadie, interim president at Gateway Community College and president of Housatonic Community College:

Broadie, “checked all the boxes,” for the job, according to Diversified’s Kim Morrisson. Broadie splits his time between Gateway and Housatonic, the largest and fifth-largest community colleges in Connecticut. Morrisson said Broadie has turned around institutions with administrative and financial restructuring.

Broadie’s wife is from the Dominican Republic and his brother and mother live in Florida. Broadie has visited Miami Dade College in the past. Morrisson said she and Diversified’s John Mestepey both came away from Broadie’s screening interview “pretty jazzed up.”

“We wouldn’t call him a charismatic leader in the sense that he’s not flamboyant,” Morrisson said. “I would describe him as being a little more of a quiet leader but he seems quite solid, knows what he’s doing, has a deep commitment and seems to get the job done.”

Divina Grossman, president and chief academic officer of University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences:

Grossman sent in her application Thursday morning, according to Diversified. She has Miami connections: In addition to serving as a department chair and vice president for engagement at Florida International University, she was recommended by congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

Diversified said FIU President Mark Rosenberg gave positive remarks about Grossman. While at FIU, she helped the university with its Carnegie research designation and raised $17 million in donations.

Alfred Sanchez, CEO of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, gave her a nod.

“She was here quite a while and worked with the business community,” he said.

Frank Lamas, vice president for student affairs, California State University, Fresno:

If Miami Dade College was looking for a personal story similar to outgoing president Eduardo Padrón, it may have found one in Lamas. A Cuban immigrant who came stateside as a child, he speaks fluent Spanish and even granted Padrón, who he considers an “icon,” an award as chair of the board of the National Association for Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, or NASPA.

Lamas was part of a $300 million campaign while at Rochester Institute of Technology in the early 2000s. He is credited with raising graduation rates and taking on national recognition and responsibilities as the head of NASPA. Diversified said that even though he’s never been president of a college, he has “demonstrated such a breadth of accomplishment. This is someone for whom this is an appropriate next step.”

Beverly Moore-Garcia, former president of MDC’s Kendall and West campuses:

Discussion of Moore-Garcia’s candidacy centered on this awkward detail: Her employment contract with Miami Dade College was recently not renewed, and her information has since been scrubbed from the college’s website.

Moore-Garcia served as the vice provost for academic affairs from 2013 to 2015 and became president of the Kendall Campus in 2015. The West campus was added to her responsibilities in 2017.

“She was very candid with us in our discussion with her,” Diversified said. “Nevertheless, she wanted to put her material in for this search to be considered for president.”

Reached by phone Thursday, Moore-Garcia told the Miami Herald that she was not given a reason for why her contract was not renewed.

“I think that the college is an amazing institution that both has done many great things but has such potential to do even more for the community and the students that we serve,” she said. “It’s an excellent institution with amazing people who work there. I am quite humbled and honored to have the opportunity to interview and discuss how I would work to support the college.”

Lenore Rodicio, MDC’S executive vice president and provost:

As Padron’s right-hand woman, Rodicio has been with the college since 2002 when she was hired as a chemistry professor.

The selection committee was concerned whether Rodicio had been given the same treatment as external candidates and asked about what weight her nominations may have (she received several nominations, internal and external). Diversified said she went through a video interview and faced the same questions as other candidates.

“The next step in her career logically would be as president,” Diversified said. They noted that Rodicio has secured grants from Bill Gates-funded organizations and for workforce training and development.

Reagan Romali, superintendent-president of Long Beach Community College District/Long Beach City College:

Diversified praised Romali’s strong track record of building programs, achieving student success, stabilizing finances, interacting and promoting and advocating for the colleges with state legislatures and assemblies.

“She’s a dynamo. She’s out there, visible, present,” Morrisson said. “She’s somebody with a tremendous amount of energy and experience working in political settings.”

Romali runs the fourth largest community college in California, where one out of six students is homeless. She is exploring a $30 million housing project to help those students.

Carlos Turner Cortez, president of San Diego Continuing Education in the San Diego Community College District:

Cortez is in charge of the adult education system that spans the community college district in San Diego. While working as the education extension director at UCLA from 2009 to 2015, he says he turned around a struggling program to a significant surplus. He has raised funds, built community partnerships and created advisory boards.

Diversified said Turner-Cortez increased participation in online programs by 400 percent. He has been instrumental in developing wraparound support programs for students and families. He is Puerto Rican and has family in Florida.

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