President José D. Padilla, J.D.
On Dec. 2, 2020, José D. Padilla, J.D., was announced as Valparaiso University’s 19th president. A dynamic thinker, and natural leader, President Padilla brings many skills, experiences, and accomplishments in higher education that are ideally suited to the University’s needs today and in the future.
President Padilla is a strong believer in service and regularly puts his faith into action. He combines service and faith with wisdom to ensure that Valpo graduates are learned and spiritual men and women who become force multipliers in their professions and communities.
President Padilla joined Valpo as the culmination of a long and successful career in higher education. He served as vice president, university counsel, and secretary of the University of Colorado System. Previously he served 15 years in senior leadership roles at DePaul University in Chicago, the most recent as vice president, general counsel, and secretary.
He began his career practicing law, but found his vocation to serve his country, fellow citizens, and university students through his roles in higher education. He also performed public service in Washington, D.C. He served as a legislative assistant to United States Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tx) and as a senior political appointee in the administration of President Bill Clinton.
President 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.
He currently is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Missouri Valley Conference and is a member of the following boards: The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities; Campus Compact; and One Region (Indiana).
President Padilla’s professional affiliations include the D.C. Bar Association, and the National Association of College and University Attorneys where he was Chairman of the Board of Directors. He previously sat on the Board of Trustees for St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkhill, New York which awarded him an honorary degree.
He was named to the Notable General Counsels list by Crain’s Chicago Business in 2019, which recognized those who made a significant impact within the Chicago business community. President Padilla was also included in the “Who Is Who in Hispanic Chicago” list of Negocios Now in 2016, 2017, and 2019. In 2010, he was named one of 100 influential Hispanics in Hispanic Business magazine.
President Padilla was born in Augsburg, Germany, on a U.S. Army base. He was raised in Toledo, Ohio.
He met his wife, Hilda, at a fundraiser in Chicago, and the two were married in 1986. Hilda is a real estate broker and entrepreneur. They have two grown children, Jacob and Camille.
In his free time, President Padilla enjoys working out, writing, reading, fly fishing, watching historical shows and movies, and spending time with his dog, Coach.