Founded in 1960, Miami Dade College (MDC) is a multi-campus, state-supported college that offers more than 150 degree options through its 8 campuses and numerous outreach centers. Each year, the College serves more than 160,000 students in both credit and non-credit courses in Miami-Dade County. The institution recently changed names from Miami-Dade Community College to Miami Dade College to reflect a more comprehensive curriculum, including baccalaureate degrees as of September 2003. Despite the name change, however, commitment to community remains strong and steadfast.
In 2001, Miami Dade College established the Florida Center for the Literary Arts (FCLA), a college-wide academic and cultural initiative that promotes the appreciation of literature in all forms and engages South Florida’s diverse community in an exchange of ideas. The Center serves both students and residents of Miami-Dade County.
Dialogue about the development and structure of the Center had begun several years earlier and had involved Miami Dade College faculty and staff, members of the board of Miami Book Fair International, special advisors from the book industry and selected members of the community. Building on the success of Miami Book Fair International over the years, and the tremendously positive response of the community, the idea of a literary center was conceived to help advance the College’s vast and diverse literary traditions in a more consistent format throughout the year at multiple locations.
At the same time, the College received a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to create a permanent endowment for the Center. This support paved the way for a solid base for the Florida Center for the Literary Arts. Full programming began in January 2002.
As a department of Miami Dade College, FCLA is an umbrella organization producing literary programming that embraces authors and writing, journalism, play and screen writing, reading and literacy, and the successful Miami Book Fair International. In addition, the close relationship between theatre and literature prompted the Center to embrace Teatro Prometeo in the summer of 2006, a community theatre founded more than 34 years ago with the mission of preserving the Spanish language and Hispanic culture.
The Center is housed at the Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami, and FCLA staff work closely with administration and faculty on all campuses to plan and implement activities. Other college departments such as Marketing, Media Relations and Graphics Arts provide year-round support to staff.
Outreach to the community consists of reading campaigns and book discussions, writing workshops, author presentations, panel discussions, master classes, and much more. The Center collaborates with a number of cultural institutions and other partners in South Florida, and indeed throughout the State, to create innovative or theme based initiatives year-round.
The creation of the Center is a reflection of Miami Dade College’s commitment to inspire students, as well as to serve the community by promoting the craft and power of the written word.