VU announces José D. Padillo as President-Elect

Beginning Jan. 1, José D. Padilla will transition to the role of President-Elect of Valpo. 


The Board of Directors announced Padilla as the next university president on Dec. 2. The news was shared with the campus community by email the same day. 


The Presidential Search Process began late in 2019 and screened more than 100 candidates. Interim President-Elect Colette Irwin-Knott has been serving in the position since Sept. 1, 2020. 


According to the email from Frederick G. Kraegel, Chair of the Board of Directors, the University had selected Padilla in partnership with a “highly reputable” search firm. 


According to the email, Padilla is respected nationally in higher education and has a broad range of experiences that can help move the university forward. 


“We are delighted to have found such an exceptional leader for our University. José’s deep and varied background in all aspects of higher education make him ideally suited to lead Valpo,” Kraegel said in a statement. 


Padilla has a Bachelor of Education in elementary education from The University of Toledo and a juris doctorate from The University of Michigan Law School. He is licensed to practice law in Illinois and the District of Columbia.  


According to the email, Padilla has previously served as lecturer, administrator, member of the president’s cabinet and board member in higher education. He had served as Secretary of the University Vice President, General Counsel at DePaul University before his most recent position as Vice President, University Counsel and Secretary of the University of Colorado System. 


“A dynamic innovator, thinker and natural leader, José brings many skills, experiences and accomplishments in higher education which are ideally suited to the University’s needs today and in the future,” Kraegel said in the email. 


Notably, Padilla was the chair of the board of directors of the National Association of College and University Attorneys. He was the first latino to hold this position. Padillo had also served on Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot’s transition team where he led a committee of lawyers to review the Federal Civil Rights Litigation Division of the City of Chicago Law Department.  


Padilla also has sixteen years of legal experience in the federal setting, according to his biography on DePaul University’s website. From 1990 to 1993 he was a lawyer and legislative assistant to Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX). Padilla had also served as a senior Treasury Department political appointee in the Clinton administration where he served as the Assistant Commissioner for Congressional and Public Affairs at the United States Customs Service in 1993 to 1998. 


In 2010, Padilla was named one of 100 influential Hispanics in the October 2010 edition of Hispanic Business magazine. 


“I am humbled and grateful to be asked to lead Valparaiso University. 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 in a statement given to the University, “Leading Valpo will allow me to practice my Christian faith in the campus community. This will enable me to join Valpo’s tradition of embracing the intersection of faith and learning.”  


Padilla will be working with Interim President-Elect Irwin-Knott to transition and will become President on or before March 1, 2021. 

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