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Donna Shalala

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Title: Donna Shalala  
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Subject: Tommy Thompson, Julio Frenk, Louis Wade Sullivan, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, National Women's Hall of Fame
Collection: 1941 Births, Alumni of Women's Universities and Colleges, American Federation of Teachers People, American Maronites, American People of Arab Descent, American People of Maronite Descent, American Politicians of Lebanese Descent, American University Alumni, American Women in Business, Baruch College Faculty, Clinton Administration Cabinet Members, Columbia University Faculty, Corporate Directors, Fellows of the United States National Academy of Public Administration, Guggenheim Fellows, Leaders of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Living People, Middle Eastern Christians, Ohio Democrats, Peace Corps Volunteers, People from Cleveland, Ohio, Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients, Presidents of Hunter College, Presidents of the University of Miami, Syracuse University Alumni, United States Secretaries of Health and Human Services, University of Miami Faculty, Western College for Women Alumni, Women Members of the Cabinet of the United States
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Donna Shalala

Donna Shalala
5th President of the University of Miami
In office
June 1, 2001 – August 16, 2015
Preceded by Edward T. Foote II
Succeeded by Julio Frenk
18th Secretary of Health and Human Services
In office
January 22, 1993 – January 20, 2001
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Louis W. Sullivan
Succeeded by Tommy Thompson
Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison
In office
Preceded by Bernard Cecil Cohen
Succeeded by David Ward
Personal details
Born Donna Edna Shalala
(1941-02-14) February 14, 1941
Cleveland, Ohio
Political party Democratic
Residence Miami, Florida
Alma mater Western College for Women
Syracuse University
Religion Maronite Catholic

Donna Edna Shalala ( ; born February 14, 1941) is the former Clinton Foundation after she leaves the University of Miami.[1]


  • Early life 1
  • Academic career 2
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services 3
  • University of Miami 4
    • Custodial wages strike 4.1
    • Honor society and departure 4.2
  • Clinton Foundation 5
    • Stroke 5.1
  • Other activities 6
    • Board member 6.1
    • Co-chair of Presidential Commission 6.2
    • Civic activities 6.3
    • Honors 6.4
    • Countrywide Financial Loan Scandal 6.5
  • Notes 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Shalala was born in Cleveland, Ohio, of Maronite Catholic Lebanese descent, to Edna Smith and James Abraham Shalala.[2] She has a twin sister, Diane Fritel. She graduated from West Tech High School and received her bachelor's degree in 1962 from Western College for Women, which in 1976, merged with Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Iran from 1962–64, where she worked with other volunteers to construct an agricultural college.[3]

In 1970, she earned a Ph.D. from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.[4]

Academic career

Shalala began her teaching career as a political science professor at Baruch College (part of CUNY), where she also was a member of the American Federation of Teachers union. In 1972 Shalala became a professor of politics and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, a job she held until 1979. Concurrently, from 1977 to 1980, she served as the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Carter administration.

Shalala's first experience with academic administration came in 1980 when she became the 10th President of Hunter College, serving in this capacity until 1988.

She next served as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Under her chancellorship and with her support, the University adopted a broad speech code subjecting students to disciplinary action for communications that were perceived as hate speech. That speech code was later found unconstitutional by a federal judge.[5] Also while chancellor, Shalala supported passage of a revised faculty speech code broadly restricting "harmful" speech in both "noninstructional" and "instructional" settings. The faculty speech code was abolished ten years later, after a number of professors were investigated for alleged or suspected violations.[6]

She was the first woman to lead a Big Ten Conference school, and only the second woman in the country to head a major research university.[7]

As Madison Chancellor, Shalala, with then Athletic Director Pat Richter, interviewed and hired football coach Barry Alvarez who went on to become Wisconsin's all-time leader in football wins, with numerous appearances by Wisconsin at the Rose Bowl.[8]

Secretary of Health and Human Services

Shalala during her tenure as the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Following a year serving as Chair of the Children's Defense Fund (1992–1993), Shalala was appointed United States Secretary of Health and Human Services in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. She served in this role for all eight years of his administration, becoming the nation's longest serving HHS Secretary. In 1996, Shalala was the designated survivor during President Clinton's State of the Union address.

In her role as HHS Secretary, Shalala frequently drew criticism for her positions, which were seen by some as too liberal. The Washington Post labeled her "one of the most controversial Clinton Cabinet nominees".[5] She was also known for her fervent anti-drug stance. She was the first Lebanese-American to serve in a Cabinet position.

University of Miami

Shalala created a UM fundraising campaign called "Momentum", designed to raise UM's endowment from approximately $750 million to $1 billion; the goal was later increased to $1.25 billion by the end of 2007. In February 2012 the University of Miami announced Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami, with $906 million already raised at the time of the public launch. On October 26, 2012, UM announced that Momentum2 hit the $1 billion mark, on track to reach the fundraising goal of $1.6 billion in 2016.

Drawing on her experience after serving as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Shalala taught a course covering the United States healthcare system every spring semester.

Custodial wages strike

Shalala faced some criticism for her response to a nationally publicized sit-in that she said prevented students from attending classes.[9]

Honor society and departure

In the fall of 2007, Shalala was inducted into UM's Iron Arrow Honor Society.

On September 8, 2014, Shalala announced that she would be stepping down at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year.

Clinton Foundation

In 2015, Shalala was brought in to head the Clinton Foundation. According to the New York Times, Chelsea Clinton helped persuade Shalala to leave the Miami position, move to New York and head the foundation.[10]


She fell ill after leaving a September 2015 Clinton Global Initiative event held at the Sheraton New York hotel, according to a foundation statement, which was diagnosed as a stroke.[10]

Other activities

Board member

Donna Shalala is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Soccer Federation.[11] Shalala served as a member of the board of directors of Lennar Corporation from 2001-2012.[12][13] She served on the board of directors of Gannett Company from 2001 to 2011, retiring because of age limits.[14] The Chronicle of Higher Education has reported on the conflict of interest of Shalala sitting on boards of property development companies.[15]

Co-chair of Presidential Commission

On March 6, 2007 President Bob Dole to head a presidential commission called the President's Commission On Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors. The commission was formed in response to a growing outcry over the care of wounded outpatient soldiers.

The commission included seven other members, ranging from injured war veterans to the wife of a wounded staff sergeant who suffered burns across 70 percent of his body. Demands for corrective action arose after the Washington Post exposed living conditions in a decrepit Army-owned building just outside Walter Reed Hospital and highlighted obstacles and delays in the treatment of soldiers who suffered serious injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.[16] The commission subsequently issued several recommendations for improvement of these facilities.

Civic activities

In 1985, Shalala became a founding member of Iran.[18] She served[12] on the board of directors for Gannett Company.

Shalala serves as a co-leader of the Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center.[19] She serves as a distinguished senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program and the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution.[20]


On June 19, 2008 Donna Shalala was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.[21] In 2010 she received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights.[22] She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York in 2011.[23] In 2014, she was recognized by the Harry S Truman Library with the Harry S Truman Legacy of Leadership Award.[24] Shalala has been awarded more than 50 honorary degrees.[12]

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 American Philosophical Society; 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.[23]

Countrywide Financial Loan Scandal

In June 2008, Conde Nast Portfolio reported that Shalala allegedly got multiple below-rate loans at Countrywide Financial because the corporation considered her an "FOA"--"Friend[s] of Angelo" (Countrywide Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo).[25]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ CURRICULUM VITAE, DONNA E. SHALALA. University of Miami. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^ Board of Directors - U.S. Soccer
  12. ^ a b c d Donna Shalala CV
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative, Bipartisan Policy Center
  20. ^
  21. ^ Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients
  22. ^ Donna E. Shalala Honored With Nelson Mandela Award For Health And Human Rights | The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
  23. ^ a b President Donna E. Shalala’s Biography | University of Miami
  24. ^ President Shalala Honored with Truman Award | News Releases | University of Miami
  25. ^ Countrywide's Many 'Friends' Conde Nast Portfolio, June 12, 2008

External links

  • President Donna E. Shalala’s Biography at the University of Miami.
  • "America's Best Leaders: Q&A with Donna Shalala, President of the University of Miami, U.S. News & World Report, October 22, 2005.
  • Donna Shalala Video produced by Makers: Women Who Make America
  • President Donna E. Shalala Collection, 1980-1988, Hunter College Archives and Special Collections
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
Academic offices
Preceded by
Bernard Cecil Cohen
Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison
Succeeded by
David Ward
Preceded by
Tad Foote II
President of the University of Miami
Succeeded by
Julio Frenk
Political offices
Preceded by
Louis W. Sullivan
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services
Served under: Bill Clinton

January 22, 1993 – January 20, 2001
Succeeded by
Tommy Thompson
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