Miami Dade College President Madeline Pumariega
Miami Dade College President Madeline Pumariega discusses the importance of higher education in Florida, the role that it plays in economic development, and how it has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, before a December 16, 2020 meeting of The Economic Club of Florida.
Madeline Pumariega is the new President of Miami Dade College, the largest in the U.S. She previously served as chancellor of the Florida College System, comprised of 28 colleges with nearly 800,000 students. She told the Club that Florida’s goal of becoming number one in workforce by 2030 is a key to the state’s future success. Reaching that top spot is about educational attainment. “Employers ask, ‘Can I move to Florida and get the workers I need and be able to grow?’” Pumariega said. While acknowledging that a four-year degree may not be for everyone, she said that everyone needs some post-high school credential to compete, “especially if Florida is to compete for regional business headquarters and job growth.”
Pumariega’s address was full of performance metrics used to measure the state’s growing educational success. To have a talented and balanced workforce, she told the Club, requires closing the equity gap. At Tallahassee Community College, where she is finishing her service this month as executive vice president and provost, she noted the white student graduation rate is 51%, well above the 35% national average. But those students in poverty have a 19% graduation rate.
She also discussed private educational companies – the “Uber of education” – that are partnering with public colleges in that task and will be the “wave of the future with personalized instruction.” “Institutions today, not only business but higher education, have to be informed by data and strategy. Being a life-long learner means you are continually focused on your trade because everything that we know today, changes tomorrow,” she told Club members.
Pumariega also addressed the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on instructional practices and learning. She noted that colleges have always helped in economic recoveries and this recovery from COVID-19 will require being more targeted and strategic. “Those governments and communities who get it right will recover more quickly. Working with community colleges will help employers and employees get their jobs back and keep their jobs,” she said.
Pumariega is a product of the college system herself, having begun her academic career as a student at Miami Dade College and later returning as an administrator and one of its campus presidents. Today, she’s still learning, pursuing a doctoral degree in higher education.
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