Vice President and General Counsel
José Padilla joined DePaul University as its vice president and general counsel in May 2005. He works closely with DePaul’s president, board of trustees, provost, executive vice president and other officers. He reports to the president and belongs to the president’s cabinet. Padilla directs an office of seven attorneys. Together they provide tactical and strategic counsel on various legal issues affecting the nation’s largest Catholic university.
Before joining DePaul, Padilla worked for Illinois Institute of Technology, a Chicago research university, as an attorney and federal lobbyist. In December 2010, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appointed Padilla to a three-year term as a member of the National Board of the Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). FIPSE advises the secretary and the assistant secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education on priorities for improving postsecondary education. In August 2013, the president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) appointed him to its legal services review panel, which advises NAICU on high profile legal and public policy issues. He has also frequently lectured before professional groups on legal issues in higher education.
From 1990 to 1993, Padilla was a lawyer and legislative assistant to the late Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas). From 1993 to 1997, he was a senior political appointee in the Clinton Administration, serving as assistant commissioner for congressional and public affairs at the United States Customs Service, then a bureau of the Department of the Treasury.
Padilla also has worked on public policy issues affecting higher education. The University of Michigan retained him to represent it before Congress and Hispanic groups with respect to the Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger affirmative action cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Padilla earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School in 1983 and was awarded a degree in elementary education from the University of Toledo in 1980. He is licensed to practice law in Illinois and the District of Columbia, and belongs to the Illinois State and American Bar Associations. He is currently a director of the Better Government Association, a government watchdog group in Chicago. He also is a former director of the National Association of College and University Attorneys and the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan. He remains involved in the Alumni Association as chairman of the board’s diversity committee, which oversees the operation and fundraising of the LEAD Scholars program. This program provides scholarships to students of color and other underrepresented students.
Hispanic Business magazine named Padilla one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the nation for 2010. In 2006, the Latino Law Students Association of the University of Michigan Law School honored Padilla with the J.T. Canales Award for distinction as a Latino alumnus of the Law School.