The past, present and future of Miami-Dade College, Homestead Campus gathered with Homestead City officials Wednesday August 7, 2019 at City Hall for the Property Transfer Signing Ceremony for the Miami-Dade College Student Success Center. Applause and standing ovations punctuated the event where almost every seat was filled.
Dr. Eduardo J. Padron, President, Miami-Dade College (MDC), will retire the end of August after fifty years of dedication to the institution where he began as an Associate Professor. His steadfast commitment to the Homestead Campus was never more evident than after the destruction of Hurricane Andrew. As he later said in his remarks, “People of Homestead have a unique sense of belonging and ownership.” He spoke of being criticized for the
decision to rebuild in Homestead and of the fact, “It takes believers to make things happen.”
His philosophy, repeated countless times during his tenure, “Education is the passport to a better life”, is strengthened with the reminder, “Talent is
universal, not opportunity.” Making opportunity available to tens of thousands of local students since 1990 is but one of the reasons Vice-Mayor Jon Burgess presented him with a Key to the City of Homestead.
Notwithstanding Dr. Padron’s personal contributions, Dr. Jeanne F. Jacobs, has been at the helm of the Homestead Campus since 2005 and her current title is President, Homestead and West Campus. Padron brought forth smiles and applause as he referred to her as, “Not only a great leader, but also a Class Act.” He and Burgess both praised her close work with George Gretsas, Homestead City Manager, as they brought the vision of the proposed center from concept to detailed plans which could be articulated to the MDC Board. “This is a proud and historic day,” Jacobs said. “At MDC we embrace our responsibility to advance twenty-nine years of partnership to support emerging educational needs.” The multi-million dollar center which will provide a resource hub for students services is also a Center for Entrepreneurship and will connect thousands of students to the business business community. “It is our part in the revitalization of downtown Homestead,” and embodies her statement of, “In 1992 when others left, MDC remained, rebuilt, and now we are reinvesting in the future.”
As impressive and innovative as the Center will be, individuals are always at the heart. Paul Douillon, President Student Government Association, Homestead Campus, is very much a part of that future. A Criminal Justice major, he’s lived in Homestead since he was two years old. His parents, A.J. and Ruth and his twin brother, Angelo, and sister, Gina, joined in applause as he eloquently thanked Drs. Padron and Jacobs for their leadership and City officials for their support. “Homestead is my home. Miami-Dade College has been a positive influence for millions of students. This center is a significant investment in our future and for the community.”
Homestead Councilmember Julio Guzman added his praise for the momentous action. “I feel so honored to be able to say we will have an Entrepreneurial Center. As an entrepreneur, you don’t always have someone to tell you what to do.”
Councilmember Patricia Fairclough, with twenty years as an educator, is the Liaison for the Council for Education. Among her comments was her enthusiastic, “I am ecstatic to be here for this occasion. It is not by happenstance; it is a testament to our commitment to our children.” In her thanks to Padron and Jacobs, she added praise for Gretsas as being the, “Steward for this community.”
The Vice-Mayor urged the City Manager forward to share some comments. In acknowledging the architects, City staff, the extensive representation of MDC in the audience, the Council, and residents, he quoted Pericles in saying, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone buildings, but what you weave into the lives of others.” He cited eight years of multiple projects for downtown revitalization and remarked that with the City Hall on one side of the street and the Student Success Center on the other side as the grand entrance to MDC-Homestead Campus, the buildings will serve as a Gateway to Homestead.
In preparing for the signatures that would transfer the property from the City to MDC for them to proceed with constructing the new facility, the Vice-Mayor asked the crowd to join in a “5-4-3-2-1 countdown”. Lingering cheers soon transitioned into a catered reception set up in the entry of City Hall.