Distinction is America’s highest civilian honor
Miami, Nov. 16, 2016 – Miami Dade College’s President, Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony on November 22. This is the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
During his more than four-decade career, President Padrón has been one of the most effective national voices for access and inclusion. He has created a culture of success at Miami Dade College (MDC) while elevating it to a position of international prominence. He has worked tirelessly to ensure all students have access to high quality, affordable education, producing impressive results in student access, retention and overall achievement. Today, the College enrolls and graduates more minority students than any other institution in the United States. He has championed innovative teaching and learning strategies making MDC a national model of excellence while preparing students for the 21st century global knowledge economy.
President Padrón’s career has been marked with many successes, distinctions and firsts. In 2009, TIME magazine listed him among the “10 Best College Presidents” in the United States. In 2010, Florida Trend placed him on the cover of the inaugural “Floridian of the Year” issue. In 2011, The Washington Post recognized him as one of the eight most influential college presidents in the country. He has been appointed to serve in important roles by six U.S. Presidents. He has also received other prestigious awards in and out of academia including more than 15 honorary doctorates from leading universities such as Princeton and Brown. He is also the recipient of highest honors from the governments of foreign nations, including France, which named him Commandeur in the Ordre des Palms Académiques; Argentina, which awarded him the Order of San Martin; and Spain whose King Juan Carlos II bestowed upon him the Order of Queen Isabella and King Felipe VI awarded him the prestigious Juan Ponce de León Award. Major awards in education include the coveted Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence—the highest distinction in academia and the prestigious Centennial Academic Leadership Award from the Carnegie Corporation.
Participation in higher education board leadership has also been a cornerstone of President Padrón’s career, serving as Chair of some of the most important boards in the nation including the American Council on Education, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Business Higher Education Forum and others.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom was established by President John F. Kennedy by executive order in 1963. Some of the past recipients include civil and human rights leaders Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Desmond Tutu; environmentalist Jacques-Yves Cousteau; astronaut Neil Armstrong; scientists Jonas Salk and Stephen Hawking; entertainers and media personalities Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg and Walter Cronkite; author Maya Angelou; world leaders and public service leaders Shimon Peres, Margaret Thatcher, Colin Powell, Sandra Day O’Connor and Henry Kissinger; and legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, to name a few.