Friday, October 23, 2020
Marlene Quaroni - Florida Catholic
MIAMI GARDENS | As the story goes, Msgr. Franklyn Casale, St. Thomas University's president at the time, asked legendary Miami businessman Gus Machado to fund a classroom which would bear Machado’s name in a proposed College of Business complex. The businessman asked how much a whole building would cost.
“When you put a name on something, you want meaning behind that,” said Msgr. Casale, STU's president emeritus, at a dedication ceremony to unveil the Gus Machado College of Business at STU. “We indeed have a great name for a great school of business. Gus embodies everything that’s good about business.”
Archbishop Thomas Wenski dedicated the new, 46,521-square foot, 21st century complex Oct. 16, 2020. Its architecture reflects the modern workplace, combining an open style, multi-purpose spaces and "a robust technology infrastructure with the functionalities needed to learn real-world business practices," according to a university press release. The complex includes 20 classrooms, a Global Conference Auditorium, a Student Innovation Incubator, a video telecast room, and a sky bridge connecting the two buildings. The second structure includes faculty offices and a large boardroom.
Machado, a Ford dealership owner, donated $5 million toward the construction of the $21.5 million building. His donation inspired others to give. STU alumnus and board chair John Dooner contributed $1.6 million to the project; several other benefactors also made multi-million-dollar commitments to the newest addition to STU’s 144-acre Miami Gardens campus.
Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert said that when STU builds itself up, it also builds up the surrounding community.
“We are in this together, STU is a part of Miami Gardens,” said Mayor Gilbert, who presented Machado with a proclamation naming Oct. 16, 2020 as Gus Machado Day in the City of Miami Gardens.
At a Mass before the dedication, Archbishop Wenski said that business success can’t be judged only on the bottom line — that is business performance — but also on how it has helped the business person to achieve integrity and personal sanctification and helped others achieve that as well.
“Business should be a vocation, a calling, a way of responding to your baptismal call to holiness by being for the world without being out for oneself,” the archbishop said.
STU President David Armstrong said that the university is living its new strategic plan, Limitless 2025, which has three goals: devotion, opportunities for students, and results. In addition to the new College of Business, a new residence hall, dining hall and student union are under construction on the campus.
“It’s all about big dreams for our students and STU’s future,” Armstrong said. “I can say that STU now has a facility that from an aesthetic, functional, and technological perspective rivals the facilities on college campuses across the country.”
He added that the Gus Machado complex has "two transformative strategies. First is forming a corporate partnership to create a new type of business college in Florida, one that is externally focused, entrepreneurial and ethics centered; and second, will benefit both students and the whole South Florida community.”
Armstrong said he hopes the new complex will help double the school’s business enrollment from its current total of 800 to 1600 students. “Our goal is to become Miami’s great Catholic university,” he said.
Machado noted that his Catholic faith had always compelled him to give to others. Machado’s grandson is a freshman pursuing a degree in the school’s Sports Administration program, which is housed in the Business College. He added that he was very pleased with the new complex.
“It’s a landmark,” Machado said. “They have done an incredible job. We were blessed to help build it.”
Erica Winters, 23, is working toward a master's degree in sports administration. She earned a bachelor's degree from Nova Southeastern University where she played on the school’s softball team. She switched to STU when she heard about their sports administration program and now plays softball for STU.
“I like the high-tech rooms in the new business school,” she said. “They have Smart boards, bigger classrooms, which is especially good for COVID-19 distancing. After I graduate, I would like to intern for a major league sports team. I would eventually like to open a sports academy. I think it’s time for more women to be involved in sports administration."
STU offers 39 undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate degrees including one of the oldest and highly ranked undergraduate programs in sports administration in the country.
The school has been ranked number one by U.S. News and World Report in social mobility for regional universities in the South, which means it takes students from the lowest financial strata and catapults them to much higher financial strata in only 10 years.
In the last year, STU also recruited the largest incoming undergraduate class and raised the most money in the university’s history.