Walt Disney Executive to Join CU-Boulder as Adjunct Professor

Published: Jan. 12, 2010

Preston Padden, executive vice president for government relations for the Walt Disney Co., has accepted appointments to join the University of Colorado at Boulder next fall as an adjunct professor in the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program and a senior fellow at the Silicon Flatirons Center.

Padden recently announced plans to retire from Walt Disney.

Dale Hatfield, adjunct professor of telecommunications and interim director of the Silicon Flatirons Center, said he expects Padden will co-teach a course on new media and cable television in the fall.

"Preston understands the media business probably as well as or better than anyone in the U.S.," said Hatfield, adding that Padden's association with the Silicon Flatirons Center in the CU Law School goes back to the year 2000. "We've been talking to him for a long time about coming to teach at CU."

Padden has been a regular speaker at the center's conferences, speaking about piracy and media regulation, which are key issues for Disney. His son, Joseph, also lives in Boulder. Padden will participate in a Jan. 31-Feb. 1 Silicon Flatirons Center conference on "The Digital Broadband Migration: Examining the Internet's Ecosystem."

Padden joined Walt Disney Co. in 1998 after serving for one year as president of the ABC Television Network. Prior to that, he was president of network distribution for the Fox Network -- part of the original team that created the fourth broadcast network. He holds a law degree from George Washington University and a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Maryland.

"We are pleased that Mr. Padden will be teaching part time at the University of Colorado," said engineering Dean Robert Davis. "To have an individual with his extensive practical experience and record of achievement join our faculty is of tremendous benefit to our students."

The Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program, which is hosted by the College of Engineering and Applied Science, is the nation's oldest and one of the most prestigious graduate telecommunications programs in the world. For more than 35 years, the program has educated leaders who can bridge the engineering, business, economics, policy and legal fields.

The program partners with the Silicon Flatirons Center in co-organizing a half dozen or more high-level academic conferences each year.

Padden joins other high-level executives who are senior fellows at the Silicon Flatirons Center, including Richard Green, former president and CEO of Cable Labs, and Pierre de Vries, former chief of incubation and senior director of advanced technology and policy at Microsoft Corp.

Preston Padden (photo courtesy Walt Disney Co.)