I’m writing to you today as a Member of Concordia’s Leadership Council. I hope this letter finds you well in these turbulent times.
Over the past 25 years, I’ve had the honor to hold the position of President of the largest and most diverse higher education institution in the U.S., during which time I’ve witnessed first-hand the transformative power of learning, debate, and inclusivity. The son of Cuban exiles, I was just a teenager when I came to the U.S. in 1961 as an unaccompanied minor—one of 14,000 children who took part in the Operation Pedro Pan exodus. What my mother told me the day she put me on a plane to Florida helped shape my life: “Whatever happens when you get to the U.S., you must study, you must get an education. That’s the one thing no one can ever take away from you.” I believe this to be true for everyone: talent is universal. But opportunity is not. When you open the door of opportunity for talent to be harnessed, wonderful things happen. Over the past 50 years, ever since the day I first walked through the doors of Miami Dade College, I’ve seen this with my own eyes.
As an educator, I hold Concordia’s mission and work close to my heart, particularly in today’s environment of extreme global uncertainty and fragmentation. Concordia places not only education at its core, but access and inclusion, as well—elements that are integral to meaningful discussion. Now, more than ever before, is the time for dialogue, connectivity, and collaboration, and that is precisely what the 10th Concordia Annual Summit will provide. With the recent announcement that the United Nations will not be gathering for its landmark 75th session, the timeliness of Concordia’s convening is that much more imperative. Concordia has a responsibility to live up to, but seizing the moment relies on the participation and buy-in of its community. For that reason, we must all double down our engagement with Concordia.
At the five-day digital Annual Summit, you’ll listen to and interact with world leaders. You’ll be part of a forum that emphasizes openness, transparency, and inclusivity. And, crucially, you’ll engage with individuals from all socio-economic backgrounds, including those who are being directly affected by the issues dominating our globe today. Success relies on dedication to others and the ability to foster both an inclusive country and world, and collaboration is vital.
In 2016, I was fortunate enough to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and I’ll never forget President Obama’s words, “We are only as great as the doors we open”. It is my hope that, come September, the world will join the 10th Concordia Annual Summit and help open doors to new voices, new solutions, and a new way forward. I hope you will be there with us.
Thank you for reading.
Dr. Eduardo Padrón, PhD
Concordia Leadership Council Member
President, Miami Dade College