Community college leaders from across the nation gathered at the 95th American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Convention in San Antonio, Texas, this year. The event is punctuated by the Hail & Farewell Luncheon, in which AACC leaders salute outgoing CEOs for their years of service.
Diverse: Issues In Higher Education also awarded Dr. Eduardo Padrón, president of Miami Dade College (MDC), with the fourth annual Diverse Champions Award at the luncheon on Sunday. Padrón transformed Miami Dade into the largest community college in the country, creating visionary programs and policies that other institutions use as their model.
Padrón’s career is all the more remarkable due to the fact that he was formerly a Cuban refugee, arriving in the United States at age 15. He attended MDC before obtaining a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Florida.
David Pluviose, executive editor of Diverse, introduced the award. He noted that Dr. Padrón intended only to teach at his alma mater for one year, before going on to pursue a career in business. Padrón’s plans changed when he found his vocation in the community college sphere. After rising through the ranks, he is now in his 20th year as MDC’s leader and is regarded as one of the most impactful community college leaders today.
“Dr. Padrón, all of us here, and the millions you have impacted over the years in Miami, are grateful that you have never looked back,” Pluviose said.
The Diverse Champions Award is given to the leaders who show a strong commitment to ensuring equal opportunity and access to their institutions. Padrón, who is wont to refer to MDC as “Democracy’s College,” exemplifies that spirit of inclusivity.
Dr. John Roueche, inaugural winner of the Diverse Champions Award and president of the Roueche Graduate Center at National American University, presented the award to Padrón. “It’s my great pleasure to present the Diverse Champions Award to Dr. Eduardo Padrón,” he said.
The 2014 recipient of the award was Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton, former president of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C).
Staff writer Catherine Morris can be reached at email@example.com.