Dr. Donna E. Shalala

University of Miami

Donna E. Shalala became Professor of Political Science and President of the University of Miami on June 1, 2001.  President Shalala has more than 25 years of experience as an accomplished scholar, teacher, and administrator.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, President Shalala received her A.B. degree in history from Western College for Women.  One of the country’s first Peace Corp Volunteers, she served in Iran from 1962 to 1964 She earned her Ph.D. degree from The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.  A leading scholar on the political economy of state and local governments, she also has held tenured professorships at Columbia University, the City University of New York (CUNY), and the University of Wisconsin - Madison.  She served as President of Hunter College of the City University of New York from 1980 to 1987 and as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1987 to 1993.

During her tenure, UM has solidified its position among top U.S. research universities and continues to rise in national rankings, including an unprecedented 15-point climb in U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges, ” moving from 66th in 2001 up to 51st in 2008. Momentum: The Campaign for the University of Miami, the first billion-dollar capital campaign completed in the state of Florida, raised $1.4 billion in private support for the university’s endowment, academic and research programs and facilities. UM’s Coral Gables campus hosted the first 2004 Presidential Debate and in 2007, in partnership with Univision Network, presented the first-ever Democratic and Republican presidential candidates’ forums in Spanish.

In 1993 President Clinton appointed her U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) where she served for eight years, becoming the longest serving HHS Secretary in U.S. history.  At the beginning of her tenure, HHS had a budget of nearly $600 billion, which included a wide variety of programs including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Child Care and Head Start, Welfare, the Public Health Service, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

As HHS Secretary, she directed the welfare reform process, made health insurance available to an estimated 3.3 million children through the approval of all State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), raised child immunization rates to the highest levels in history, led major reforms of the FDA’s drug approval process and food safety system, revitalized the National Institutes of Health, and directed a major management and policy reform of Medicare.  At the end of her tenure as HHS Secretary, The Washington Post described her as “one of the most successful government managers of modern times.”  As Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she led what was then the nation’s largest public research university.  She successfully strengthened undergraduate education, the university’s research facilities, and spearheaded the largest fundraising drive in Wisconsin’s history.  In 1992, Business Week named her one of the top five managers in higher education.

She served in the Carter administration from 1977-80 as Assistant Secretary for Public Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  In 1980, she assumed the presidency of Hunter College of the City University of New York.

She is a Director of Gannett Co., Inc., and the Lennar Corporation.  She also serves as a Trustee of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

In 2007, President George W. Bush handpicked Shalala to co-chair with Senator Bob Dole the Commission on Care for Returning Wounded Warriors, to evaluate how wounded service members transition from active duty to civilian society.

President Shalala has more than three dozen honorary degrees and a host of other honors, including the 1992 National Public Service Award, the 1994 Glamour magazine Woman of the Year Award; in 2005 she was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government; in May 2008 she was selected as an Independent Director of the US Soccer Federation, and in June 2008 she was awarded the Radcliffe Medal by The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. In 2008, she was honored as one of “25 Great Public Servants” by The Council for Excellence in Government which recognized outstanding public servants who have made significant contributions to achieving excellence in government over the past 25 years.

In June 2008, President Bush presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, at a ceremony in the White House. The medal recognizes exceptional meritorious service to individuals who have contributed to national security, world peace, or cultural endeavors.  She has been elected to the Council on Foreign Relations; National Academy of Education; the National Academy of Public Administration; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the National Academy of Social Insurance; the American Academy of Political and Social Science; and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.