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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Meets with MDC North Campus President to Discuss Future Opportunities for Hispanic Students and the Campus’ Science Complex

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Meets with MDC

Meeting in Washington D.C. recently were Miami Dade College North Campus President Dr. José A. Vicente, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, and Maria Goldberg, executive director of the USDA Hispanic Serving Institution Program.

Miami, April 24, 2008 - In its effort to jointly carry out common goals of promoting educational and employment opportunities for the Hispanic community, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Leadership Group, and Miami Dade College (MDC) North Campus President, Dr. José A. Vicente, met recently in Washington, D.C. to discuss future plans as well as the campus’ new state-of-the-art science complex currently under construction. The purpose of this meeting and collaboration is to enhance Hispanic education and employment opportunities within USDA related areas such as agriculture, food handling and preparation and natural resources management. It is anticipated that at least 50% of USDA’s workforce will be retiring within the next five years.

The leaders who met hope the program will not only empower Hispanic students to attain educational excellence, but also strengthen the higher education institutions serving them. The USDA and HACU partnership is comprised of five USDA executives and five presidents of higher education institutions.

“The joint USDA-HACU Leadership Group is a tremendous example of how partnerships can improve government capabilities,” said Ed Schafer, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. “Our work with Hispanic Serving Institutions helps us target USDA services to the Hispanic community, as well as recruit outstanding young leaders into public service. This meeting with MDC gave us a chance to discuss our priorities for the upcoming year and to chart a course for how to continue to strengthen our partnership."

The new, $40 million science complex at MDC’s North Campus is expected to be completed in 2009. The facility will consist of 21 science laboratories, including biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, microbiology, organic chemistry, zoology, botany, environmental sciences, and biotechnology. The expansive complex will also be equipped with a state-of-the art weather center, a working greenhouse as well as one ornamental plant greenhouse, a Palmetum (a specialized botanical garden devoted to palm trees), a regular botanical garden, a lecture hall, classroom facilities, and a large lakefront plaza.

“MDC is very pleased to be a key player at the national level regarding the efforts undertaken by this group,” said Dr. Vicente. “These initiatives are very timely given the North Campus’ efforts to increase the number of students pursuing the sciences as their field of study.”

The USDA-HACU Leadership Group provides guidance, direction, and coordination to ensure that mutual benefits and interests are served by the USDA/HACU partnership initiatives.

"The success of the USDA-HACU Leadership Group depended on the leadership of the USDA and HACU coupled with the strong participation of the Hispanic Serving Institutions presidents,” said Maria Goldberg, USDA Hispanic Serving Institution Program Executive Director.

Dr. Vicente and other leaders at MDC have been involved with HACU since its establishment.

For more information about the USDA/HACU initiative, visit

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tarnell Carroll, 305-237-3359,, media specialist

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