Jose Padilla headshot

José D. Padilla

Valparaiso University

José D. Padilla, J.D., President of Valparaiso University, is a strong believer in service who regularly puts his faith into action. Previously, he served as vice president, university counsel, and secretary of the University of Colorado System and spent 15 years in senior leadership roles at DePaul University in Chicago, the most recent as vice president, general counsel, and secretary.

He began his career practicing law, but found his vocation to serve his country, fellow citizens, and university students through his roles in higher education. He also performed public service in Washington, D.C. He served as a legislative assistant to United States Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tx) and as a senior political appointee in the administration of President Bill Clinton.

José received his bachelor of education in elementary education from The University of Toledo and his juris doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School. Professional affiliations include the American Bar Association, the D.C. Bar Association, and the National Association of College and University Attorneys (former Board Chair). He currently sits on the Board of Trustees for St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkhill, New York.

He was named to the Notable General Counsels list by Crain’s Chicago Business in 2019 and was included in the “Who Is Who in Hispanic Chicago” list of Negocios Now in 2016, 2017, and 2019. In 2010, he was named one of 100 influential Hispanics in Hispanic Business magazine.

José was born in Augsburg, Germany, on a U.S. Army base and raised in Toledo, Ohio. He and his wife, Hilda, were married in 1986. They have two grown children, Jacob and Camille. In his free time, José enjoys working out, writing, reading, fly fishing, watching historical shows and movies, and spending time with his dog, Coach.