Miami Dade College Homepage > MDC in the News

U.S. House Speaker, the President of Georgetown University, a Cabinet Member, and Head of State among Miami Dade College Commencement Ceremony Speakers on May 3

Kendall Commencement

Miami, May 2, 2008 - Once again, national and world leaders, top thinkers and renowned speakers will address Miami Dade College (MDC) graduates on Saturday, May 3, as the college holds seven commencement ceremonies representing seven campuses. Nearly 9,000 students will not only graduate but gain some advice and inspiration from some very important people during keynote addresses.  

This year's commencement speakers include U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, El Salvador's President Elías Antonio Saca, Georgetown University President Dr. John J. DeGioia, and Royal Caribbean Cruises Chair Richard Fain, among others.  

The college has a long and rich history of inviting top speakers to commencement. Past keynote speakers include President George W. Bush and many influential leaders from industry, academia and government.  

MDC is the nation's largest institution of higher education with an enrollment of more than 165,000 students. In fact, 2 million people have attended the college since it opened its doors in 1960. The college's seven campuses and two centers offer more than 300 distinct degree programs including several baccalaureate degrees in education, public safety management and nursing. MDC is also renowned for its rich cultural programs. It is home of the Miami Book Fair International, Miami International Film Festival, the Cultura del Lobo performing arts series, the Miami International Sculpture Park, and a large art gallery and theater system.  

Schedule of graduation ceremonies:  

Homestead Campus
8 a.m.
Kendall Campus' Theodore R. Gibson Health Center
11011 S.W. 104 Street

Keynote Speaker: Mr. Bill Diggs, President and CEO, Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce  

As the chief executive officer of Florida's oldest minority chamber of commerce, Bill Diggs is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, including financial, programming and development. Diggs consults with elected officials, as well as leaders from public and privately held corporations, in order to ensure that the minority vendor community in the county thrives. In 2005, Diggs was selected as the Emerging Leader of the Year by The Florida Minority Business Development Agency. In 2006, the Ronald McDonald House named him one of Miami's 12 Outstanding Men and Miami Today lists him as one of Miami's Top Leaders. In addition to his role at the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, Diggs hosts a weekly radio show and writes a syndicated column in The Miami Herald.

North Campus
9:30 a.m.
James L. Knight International Center
400 S.E. Second Ave.

Keynote Speaker: The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives 

Since 1987, Nancy Pelosi has represented California's Eighth District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Elected by her colleagues in 2002 as Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives, she is the first woman in American history to lead a major party in the U.S. Congress and the first woman to serve as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. She is a champion of increasing educational opportunity, protecting workers, promoting health care and safeguarding the environment at home and abroad. In addition, Pelosi has long been an advocate for human rights. She proudly holds the record for longest continuous period of service on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Pelosi hails from a strong family tradition of public service.

Hialeah Campus
11 a.m.
James L. Knight International Center, Ashe Auditorium
400 S.E. Second Ave.

Keynote Speaker: Ms. Liliam M. Lopez, President and CEO, South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 

Liliam M. López co-founded the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and serves as president and chief executive officer of the organization. She is a member of the Miami Beach Cultural Arts Council and has previously served as chair of the Hispanic Affairs Committee of the City of Miami Beach and as vice chair of the Miami-Dade Coalition of Chambers of Commerce. Using her experience to mentor others, López is a motivational speaker for several organizations including the Federal Women's Program of the U.S. Department of Justice. She also created a scholarship program to support Hispanic students from low-income families. A well-respected business woman and community leader, López received the 2005 March of Dimes' Building Our Community Award and was named South Florida Business Journal's 2003 Business Woman of the Year. 

InterAmerican Campus
12:30 p.m.
Miami-Dade County Auditorium
2901 W. Flagler Street

Keynote Speaker: Dr. John J. DeGioia, President, Georgetown University 

For nearly a quarter of a century, Dr. John J. DeGioia has helped define and strengthen Georgetown University as a premier institution for education and research. As president, Dr. DeGioia is deeply committed to sustaining academic excellence, helping to recruit intellectual leaders to the faculty and securing substantial funding for scholarly research and academic programs. To prepare young people for leadership roles in the global community, Dr. DeGioia has expanded opportunities for intercultural and interreligious dialogue, welcomed world leaders to campus and convened international conferences to address issues impacting our nation. He is a member of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO and Chair of its Education Committee and serves as a board member of the American Council on Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. He is also a strong supporter of Georgetown's social justice initiatives that seek to improve opportunities for Washington's underserved neighborhoods. Dr. DeGioia is an active member of the faculty and serves as Professorial Lecturer in the philosophy department. 

Medical Center Campus
2:30 p.m.
James L. Knight International Center
400 S.E. Second Ave.

Keynote Speaker: Mr. Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. 

Richard Fain joined Royal Caribbean in 1979 as a member of the board of directors. Following increased involvement in management, he became the global cruise ship company's chairman and CEO in 1988. Fain is a member of the National Conference for Community and Justice, an organization that empowers leaders to transform communities through institutional change. He also serves on the World Wildlife Fund's National Council and is chairman of the United Way of Miami-Dade County. In 2004, Fain received the Ultimate CEO Award from the South Florida Business Journal and accepted the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition Organization. In addition, Fain was presented with one of France's most distinguished awards, the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur (French Legion of Honor), and was the recipient of the Anti-Defamation League's Distinguished Community Service award. 

Kendall Campus
5 p.m.
Kendall Campus' Theodore R. Gibson Health Center
11011 S.W. 104 Street

Keynote Speaker: The Honorable Margaret Spellings, Secretary, U.S. Department of Education 

As the U.S. Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings is working to ensure that every young American has the knowledge and skills to succeed in the 21st century. She has partnered with states to implement and enforce the No Child Left Behind Act, which has led to rising test scores and shrinking achievement gaps across the country. Secretary Spellings, who has been involved with education policy at every level, supported teachers with new financial incentives for gains in student achievement and supported parents with new educational choices. She also proposed a landmark Plan for Higher Education to improve accessibility, affordability and accountability. Spellings is the first mother of school-aged children to serve as Education Secretary and has a special appreciation for the hopes and concerns of American families. Last year, she joined MDC President Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón and other prominent U.S. college presidents on an important education mission to South America.  

Wolfson Campus
7 p.m.
James L. Knight International Center
400 S.E. Second Ave.

Keynote Speaker: The Honorable Elías Antonio Saca, President, Republic of El Salvador

Elías Antonio Saca was elected president of El Salvador in 2004, the youngest person to serve in office. Spearheading the third-largest economy in Central America, Saca is committed to opening the country to trade and investment, and has pursued economic diversification. In late 2006, the government and the Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a momentous multi-million dollar compact to stimulate growth and reduce poverty in the country's northern region through investments in education, public services, enterprise development, and transportation infrastructure, according to the state department. Before running for president, Saca pursued a career as a sports journalist and later owned a radio station. He joined the Salvadoran Radio Association in the 1990s and became its president in 1997. At the same time, he was involved with the ARENA party and joined the International Radio Broadcasting Association, where he chaired the Permanent Committee of Freedom of Speech.

Editor's note: In order to expedite the check-in process, we kindly ask members of the media planning to cover tomorrow's graduations to confirm their attendance today. Please e-mail one of the contacts listed below. For the North Campus and Wolfson Campus ceremonies, the media check-in table will be located at the Knight Center entrance level (second floor). Checked-in media will be escorted to risers located on the upper level of the Knight Center. For the Kendall Campus ceremony, the media check-in table is on the east side of the Gibson Center gymnasium, at the top of the entrance ramp. Please make sure credentials are visible at all times and arrive 45 minutes before the start of the graduation ceremonies.

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist

Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Miami Dade College.
Miami Dade College is an equal access/equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, marital status, age, religion, national origin,
ethnicity, pregnancy, disability, veteran's status, sexual orientation, or genetic information.
Contact the Office of Director, Equal Opportunity Programs, ADA and Title IX Coordinator, at 305.237.2577 for assistance.