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 and 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 has also 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 CUNY from 1980 to 1987 and as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1987 to 1993.
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). One of the country’s first Peace Corp volunteers, she served in Iran from 1962 to 1964.
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 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., UnitedHealth Group, Inc., and the Lennar Corporation. She also serves as a Trustee of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
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, and in 2005 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. 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.