Who was Dr. Toni Bilbao?

Maria Antonia “Toni” Bilbao spent her lifetime in education. So much so, Bilbao impacted two of South Florida’s leading institutions of higher learning — Miami Dade College, where she ended her career in academia as executive director of its West Campus, and Florida International University as associate dean of student services.

Born Jan. 20, 1950, in Havana, Bilbao was a Class of 1967 Coral Gables Senior High graduate. At Miami Dade College, she earned her associate in arts degree in pre-teaching. Before transferring to the University of Miami in 1969 for her bachelor’s in elementary and early childhood education and master’s in administration and supervision.

 “Toni not only passionately advanced education in our community, but also the arts. She left an indelible mark on all the people and organizations she touched,” Padrón, president of Miami Dade College said of Bilbao, who listed collecting Cuban art and travel to museums — four days at the Louvre on her last trip to Paris — among her passions.