Rolando Montoya’s (PhD ’03, MS ’85) appreciation for diversity and international perspective help him run a major educational and cultural institution in South Florida. The role of a lifelong student and educator has prepared him for his current responsibilities as president of the Wolfson campus, Miami-Dade College.
A native of Cuba, he grew up in Panama, Mexico and Costa Rica. In 1980, he was appointed by the government to be the consul and trade commissioner for Costa Rica in Miami, where he became a permanent resident.
After teaching part time for a few years, Montoya left the private sector in 1986 to teach full time. He excelled as a student and said he loved to be around those who wanted to learn; as a result, he said he decided to do for a living what he enjoyed the most.
Florida International University was a logical choice for receiving higher education.
“I was a commuting student when working on my master’s and my doctorate. The university offered the flexibility to study part-time, and the cost was reasonable,” Montoya said. “Out of local options, the university was the best choice because of its quality programs and accessibility; it was the ideal location.”
He added, “I had an excellent experience in the Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program; it was so good, in fact, that I decided to return for a doctorate in higher education administration.”
Degrees from Florida International University provided Montoya with opportunities for advancement.
“I am grateful to the university and the faculty of its business and education colleges for all of the opportunities that have allowed me to progress in my professional and personal lives,” Montoya said. “When I arrived in the country, I had limited use of the English language, and I learned the correct terminology by going through the master’s and doctoral programs. I know that communication skills are essential in order to excel.”
“Everyone knows that the master’s degree in finance is a rigorous program and that it exemplifies great prestige in the community,” he said. “People who have graduated from that program have the capacity and discipline to get a job done,”
He added that, “The finance courses involved rigorous numerical procedures, but faculty took the time to explain them carefully and meticulously to those willing to learn.”
Montoya’s doctorate in higher education administration provided the credentials and practical support he needed for his current position as president of the Wolfson campus.
“The best theory is one that is put into practice,” he said. “I confront new situations and variables daily. It does not matter that I have been at Miami-Dade for twenty years; my job is ever-changing.”
His job changes as much as the face of downtown Miami has changed over the years. Montoya remembers a time when no one was interested in the downtown sector. “It was a challenge to attract students and personnel to the campus. Twenty-two years ago, we created the Miami Book Fair to attract people to downtown and our campus for cultural and economic development.”
The Wolfson campus has played an integral role in developing downtown and will continue to do so.
The Miami International Film Festival, plays, concerts, and lectures add life to the city’s downtown area, and now, other cultural centers are cropping up as well. Churches are being revitalized, and so are office buildings. Condos are going up and more construction is in the works. Other institutions are seeing a benefit to being located downtown, including the college’s Downtown Center.
Montoya sees the future of the Wolfson campus as a continuous promoter of art, culture, and humanities for the community. He said he sees the campus accomplishing this goal through the New World School of Arts, the Prometeo Theatre, the Miami Book Fair, and the International Film Festival.