José D. Padilla To Lead in Times of Unprecedented Challenges and Opportunities
The Board of Directors of Valparaiso University (“Valpo”) announced today that it has named José D. Padilla as its next President. A dynamic innovator, thinker and natural leader, Padilla brings many skills, experiences and accomplishments in higher education which are ideally suited to the University’s needs today and in the future.
Padilla joins Valpo as the culmination of a long and successful career in higher education. Most recently, he served as Vice President, University Counsel and Secretary to the Board of Regents of the University of Colorado System. Prior to that, he served 15 years successfully in a number of senior leadership roles at DePaul University in Chicago, the most recent role as Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary.
Padilla is widely respected nationally in the higher education space as having superior business acumen and as a man of faith. His broad experience ranges from undergraduate student, to graduate student, alumnus, donor, lecturer, administrator, member of the president’s cabinet, and board member. His leadership experiences provide the background to address the University’s current needs and, moving forward, the strong desire to increase enrollment and attract a more diverse student body.
“We are delighted to have found such an exceptional leader for our University,” said Frederick G. Kraegel ’70, Chair of the Board of Directors. “José’s deep and varied background in all aspects of higher education make him ideally suited to lead Valpo.”
“I also want to thank Colette Irwin-Knott for serving as Interim President these past months, so we are able to have such a positive, long-term outcome,” said Kraegel.
“The COVID-19 pandemic made our search process especially challenging,” said John Draheim ’64, chair of the Board’s Search Committee. “The Committee was determined to be both deliberate and thorough to be sure we identified the top candidate. We believe we have made an excellent choice with José.”
“I am really looking forward to working with José,” said Robert D. Hansen, Jr. ’82, Chair-Elect of the Board of Directors. “I am confident he will provide the insightful leadership Valpo needs to navigate these unprecedented times in higher education.”
“I am humbled and grateful to be asked to lead Valparaiso University,” said Padilla. “Its storied past, exceptional programs, devoted faculty, motivated students, committed alumni and strong Lutheran Christian ethos all attracted me to this incredible opportunity,” Padilla said.
“Leading Valpo will allow me to practice my Christian faith in the campus community,” Padilla added. “This will enable me to join Valpo’s tradition of embracing the intersection of faith and learning.”
Padilla was selected as Valparaiso’s next President after an exhaustive search over the course of more than a year and which included more than 100 candidates. The Search Committee sought candidates with a specific set of attributes and demonstrated career skills to lead the University as it faces the challenges and opportunities ahead.
For more than 150 years, Valparaiso University has been delivering a distinctive model of learning rooted in the Lutheran tradition and grounded in the liberal arts and sciences with degree programs also offered in professional colleges. Students benefit from rigorous academics, including a College of Engineering in the top 15 of the nation and one of the country’s oldest honors colleges, along with Division I athletics and robust student life.
The University has made a lot of progress recently, and Padilla will look to add to those. During just the past several years, Valpo has added a significant number of new majors and minors across its colleges, including environmental engineering, bioengineering, music therapy, occupational therapy, physician assistant, and supply chain and logistics management.
Padilla will serve as President-Elect beginning on Jan. 1, 2021. He and Interim President Colette Irwin-Knott will work together to transition the role before he becomes President on or before March 1, 2021.
Padilla received his Bachelor of Education in elementary education from The University of Toledo, and his juris doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School.
Padilla and his wife Hilda will relocate to the Valparaiso, Indiana community.