President, Miami Dade College
An American by choice, Eduardo Padrón arrived in the United States as a teenage refugee in 1961. Since 1995, he has served as President of Miami Dade College (MDC), the largest institution of higher education in America with more than 165,000 students. He is credited with elevating MDC into a position of national prominence among the best and most recognized U.S. colleges and universities. An economist by training, Dr. Padrón earned his Ph.D. from the University of Florida. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., for being a prominent national voice for access and inclusion in higher education. In 2009, TIME magazine included him on the list of “The 10 Best College Presidents.”
In 2010, Florida Trend magazine placed him on the cover of its inaugural “Floridian of the Year” issue. In 2011, The Washington Post named him one of the eight most influential college presidents in the U.S. Also in 2011, he was awarded the prestigious 2011 Carnegie Corporation Centennial Academic Leadership Award. In 2012, he received the Citizen Service Award from Voices for National Service, the coveted TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence, and the Aspen Institute Ascend Fellowship. In 2015, he was inducted into the U.S. News & World Report STEM Hall of Fame. Dr. Padrón’s energetic leadership extends to many of the nation’s leading organizations. He is the past chair of the board of directors of the American Council on Education (ACE) and is a past chair of the board of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and former chair of the Business Higher Education Forum (BHEF). During his career, he has been selected to serve on posts of national prominence by five American presidents.
Internationally, President Padrón’s accomplishments have been recognized by numerous nations and organizations including the Republic of France, which named him Commandeur in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques; 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; and Morocco's King Mohammed VI, who appointed him Honorary Consul in Florida of the Kingdom of Morocco in 2016.
Dr. Padrón’s pace-setting work at Miami Dade College 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 Dr. Padrón’s leadership, Miami Dade College has received national recognition for its longstanding involvement with its urban community, its catalytic effect for social and economic change, and the marked difference the College has made in student access and success through pace-setting initiatives.
He currently serves on the boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Urban Institute; RC 2020; White House Fellows Southern Region Selection Panel (Chair); the International Association of University Presidents; and Achieving the Dream. In past years he has held leadership positions on the boards of the Federal Reserve Board of Atlanta, Miami Branch (past Chair); the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (Chair); 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/Congressional Commission of the National Museum of the American Latino.
He is the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates and prestigious awards.