The Miami Dade College (MDC) Board of Trustees unanimously voted recently to rename the InterAmerican Campus the Eduardo J. Padrón Campus in honor of MDC’s president who will retire in August after 50 years at the college, nearly 25 as president.
“I want to express my deepest appreciation to the board of trustees for this incredible honor,” Dr. Padrón said. “I am so honored and humbled. My connections to this unique and special campus, which has always been on the frontlines of the American Dream, run so deep.”
Dr. Padrón was the catalyst in creating the InterAmerican Campus, which initially served as an outreach center. An official designation ceremony will be announced soon.
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 degree-granting institution of higher education in America. He is credited with elevating MDC into a position of national prominence among the best and most recognized U.S. colleges and universities.
An economist by training, Dr. Padrón earned his PhD from the University of Florida. In 2018, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, one of America’s oldest and most prestigious organizations. 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 Carnegie Corporation Centennial Academic Leadership Award. In 2012, he received the Citizen Service Award from Voices for National Service, the coveted TIAA 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.
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). During his career, he has been selected to serve on posts of national prominence by five American presidents. He also has received numerous international honors.
Dr. Padrón’s pace-setting work at Miami Dade College has been hailed as a model of innovation in higher education. He is credited with engineering a culture of success that has produced impressive results in student access, retention, graduation, and overall achievement. MDC enrolls and graduates more minorities than any other institution in the United States, including the largest numbers of Hispanics and African-Americans. Under Dr. Padrón’s leadership, Miami Dade College has received national recognition for its longstanding involvement with its urban community, its catalytic effect for social and economic change, and the marked difference the College has made in student access and success through pace-setting initiatives.
The InterAmerican Campus is located in the heart of Little Havana. It originally opened as the Wolfson Campus’ Division of Bilingual Studies in the 1970s at the former site of Belen Jesuit High School on SW Eighth Street and Seventh Avenue. Following the Mariel Boatlift, it was designated a Center and later moved to its current location near SW Eighth Street and 27th Avenue.
The InterAmerican Center soon became the largest bilingual learning center in higher education. In 2001, it was designated the InterAmerican Campus, becoming MDC’s sixth campus at the time. Today, it is the only public higher education presence in Little Havana and home to some of the college’s most important programs including its renowned School of Education and the Dual Language Honors College. Recently, the campus has expanded to meet the growing needs of the surrounding community. It is a great source of pride and energy for the area and an epicenter for education and the cultural arts.