Florida Politics

New look Miami Dade College Board of Trustees could affect search for president

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis moved Thursday to overhaul the membership of the Miami Dade College Board of Trustees as the country’s largest post-secondary institution searches for a new president to replace the retiring Eduardo Padrón.

DeSantis named former state Rep. Michael Bileca and Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya to the college’s leadership, along with City Year Miami executive Anay Abraham and attorney Marcell Felipe. He reappointed Leon Medical Centers President Benjamin Leon III. All five require confirmation by the Florida Senate.

The new nominations come after DeSantis signaled last month that he would rescind dozens of unconfirmed Rick Scott appointees on boards across the state, including on universities. He returned Leon to his position Thursday, but replaced three college trustees appointed last year: Susan Amat, former college provost Rolando Montoya and Miami-Dade County mayoral candidate Juan Zapata.

Bileca, Felipe and Migoya will fill out the remainder of the terms of the trustees whom they replaced. Bileca and Migoya will be on the board for two years, while Felipe and Leon will serve for three. Abraham was appointed to an open position and will serve a four-year term.

The shakeup comes at a crucial time for the college.

A selection committee tasked with finding a replacement for Padrón met for the first time Thursday only a few hours after college trustees received notice that they’d been replaced. The committee hopes to meet with 8 to 10 candidates in June and select a new president in July, with the goal of having someone ready to fill in when Padrón retires in August.

“It’s at a critical point of the search but the process is in place,” said Zapata, who noted that the board of trustees won’t get involved in the process until the end. “This shouldn’t affect any of that.”

The college has asked its headhunter to seek candidates who have obtained a doctorate and have at least six years of administrative experience at a college or university.