An American by choice, Eduardo Padrón arrived in the United States as a teenage refugee in 1961. He is the president emeritus of Miami Dade College (MDC), having served as its president for almost twenty-five years, from 1995 until 2019. He is credited with elevating MDC, the largest degree-granting institution in America, into a position of national prominence among the best and most recognized U.S. colleges and universities. Padrón’s work at MDC has been hailed as a model of innovation in higher education. He is credited with engineering a culture of success that has produced impressive results in student access, retention, graduation, and overall achievement. MDC enrolls and graduates more minorities than any other institution in the United States, including the largest numbers of Hispanics and African Americans. Under Padrón’s leadership, MDC received national recognition for its long-standing involvement with its urban community, its catalytic effect on social and economic change, and the marked difference it has made in student access and success through pace-setting initiatives.
Padrón’s energetic leadership extends to many of the nation’s leading organizations. Padrón currently serves on the boards of the Urban Institute, Spencer Foundation, Education Trust, College Promise, National Commission on Inclusive Capitalism, Concordia Leadership Council, International Association of University Presidents, and Achieving the Dream, and chairs the board of World Strategic Forum.
In past years, Padrón has held leadership positions on the boards of the Federal Reserve Board of Atlanta, Miami Branch, which he chaired; the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, which he chaired; the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; the White House Commission on Educational Excellence; Campus Compact; Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute; the College Board; and the White House and Congressional Commission of the National Museum of the American Latino. He formerly chaired the board of directors of the American Council on Education, the board of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and the Business Higher Education Forum. During his career, he has been selected to serve on posts of national prominence by five American presidents. He has served on several national institutions including the Aspen Institute, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Knight Foundation, Ford Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Century Foundation, National Science Foundation, National Governors Association, American Bar Association, Lumina Foundation, and others.
In 2018, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, for being a prominent national voice for access and inclusion in higher education. In 2015, he was inducted into the U.S. News & World Report STEM Hall of Fame. In 2012, he received the Citizen Service Award from Voices for National Service, the coveted TIAA Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence, and the Aspen Institute Ascend Fellowship. In 2011, the Washington Post named him one of the eight most influential college presidents in the United States, and he was awarded the prestigious 2011 Carnegie Corporation Centennial Academic Leadership Award. In 2010, Florida Trend magazine placed him on the cover of its inaugural “Floridian of the Year” issue. In 2009, TIME magazine included him on the list of “The 10 Best College Presidents.”
Internationally, Padrón’s accomplishments have been recognized by numerous nations and organizations including France, which decorated him as a commander of the Order of Academic Palms; the Republic of Argentina, which awarded him the Order of San Martin; Spain’s King Juan Carlos II, who bestowed upon him the Order of Queen Isabella; Spain’s Prince and Princess of Asturias, Felipe and Letizia, who presented him with the Juan Ponce de Leon 500th Anniversary award; Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, who appointed him honorary consul in Florida of the Kingdom of Morocco; Poland, which honored him with the Amicus Poloniae.
An economist by training, Padrón earned his PhD from the University of Florida. He is a recipient of numerous honorary doctorates and prestigious awards. Padron is a prolific writer with several chapters and articles to his credit.