Miami, Jan. 4, 2018 – Miami Dade College’s (MDC) President Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón will receive the 2018 Robert Zemsky Medal for Innovation in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, for his leadership, innovation, and advocacy in higher education.
“I am honored to be recognized with this special distinction and proud to say MDC is committed to innovation to strengthen our economy and prepare future innovators who will make a difference in the world,” said President Padrón.
The award will be presented during the annual Higher Education Leadership Conference Thursday, Jan. 11, at the University of Pennsylvania. The Zemsky Medal recognizes individuals whose leadership in higher education has resulted in transformative change in college and universities in the context of their missions and global markets. In 2017, UPenn’s renowned Netter Center for Community Partnerships, awarded President Padrón the Lifetime Achievement Award for his extraordinary national leadership and contributions to higher education.
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 and fostering a culture of inclusion.
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. I 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). He also served on the American Academy of Arts & Sciences’ Commission on the Humanities & Social Sciences.
President Padrón is widely recognized as one of the top educational leaders in the world and is often invited to participate in educational policy forums in the United States and abroad. During his career, he has been selected to serve on posts of national prominence by five American Presidents. In 1993, President Bill Clinton recognized him as one of America’s foremost educators. President George W. Bush nominated him to the National Institute for Literacy Advisory Board and the National Economic Summit. More recently, he represented the U.S. at UNESCO’s World Conference on Higher Education at the invitation of the Obama administration, and President Obama appointed him Chairman of the White House Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.
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.
The award is named after Dr. Robert (Bob) Zemsky, who has made extraordinary contributions in advancing innovative strategies to improve excellence in higher education policy and leadership throughout his career as educator, senior administrator, and public policy scholar.