Academic Feature Story

A Comforting Feeling


Before he even accepted the job as the new dean of the Francis J. Noonan School of Business, James Padilla, J.D., made an immediate connection with a student on campus.

Addressing a classroom of students, Padilla barely started speaking when Xavier Sanchez (’20) raised his hand to ask a question.

“I’m not 30 seconds into telling them who I am and where I am from (Hickory Hills, Ill.) when Xavier’s hand shot up,” recalled Padilla. “He said, ‘That’s where I am from!’ From there, we found a series of connections, and it was really interesting.”

That was just the first in a series of encounters that helped Padilla know that Loras College was the right fit for him.

“Four people that I have met, two when I interviewed and two after starting, reminded me why I am glad that I interviewed and why I am here,” he explained. “We all have different connections from shared relations and acquaintances that reinforce that this is the right place for me.

“It’s a rather comforting feeling. It feels like a reassurance for me because Loras has a strong brand and a strong name.”

As dean, Padilla will oversee the Business School’s curriculum and strategic planning; supervise faculty; develop business relationships, sponsorships and internships; facilitate student recruitment; and coordinate and participate in fundraising efforts.

“I want to accomplish the successful establishment of a brand new school of business,” Padilla said. “There are so many things to consider. We have to consider specialty accreditation, potential new program development, enrollment growth and continued success with institutional advancement toward external funding opportunities. All those come to mind as we look forward to the future.”

Padilla was most recently associate dean/associate professor of the School of Business Administration at Marymount University in Arlington, Va. Prior to that, he was an associate professor at the Tiffin University School of Business in Tiffin, Ohio, serving as dean there for two years; assistant professor in the Department of Movement Science at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.; assistant professor at Ball State University’s School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Science in Muncie, Ind.; assistant professor at University of Saint Francis’ Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership in Fort Wayne, Ind.; and a lecturer at Ivy Tech State College, also in Fort Wayne.

Originally from the Chicago area, Padilla is an expert in the athlete disability insurance field. Over the past 20 years, he has worked with players, coaches, agents, financial advisors and professional teams in regards to properly protecting themselves and their assets. He later merged his own insurance firm with Braman Insurance in Merrillville, Ind., and still serves as a consultant for Braman.

Padilla received his undergraduate degree in sociology from Northern Illinois University. He received his juris doctorate at Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale, Ill., and an executive certificate in sports management from Loyola University Chicago.

Using this wealth of experience, Padilla feels he can effectively promote Loras College.

“I realize my ability to be at an institution that can connect to areas of the Midwest is significant,” he said. “I can continue to influence people in terms of their decision- making about college choices and then be able to speak directly to what it is like going away to both small, private schools and large state schools and really explain the benefits of Loras.”