My watch list  

Donna Shalala

Donna Shalala

5th President of the University of Miami
In office
2001 – present
Preceded by Tad Foote
Succeeded by Incumbent

In office
1993 – 2001
Preceded by Louis W. Sullivan
Succeeded by Tommy Thompson

Born February 14 1941 (1941-02-14) (age 71)
Cleveland, Ohio
Political party Democratic
Religion Roman Catholic

Donna Edna Shalala (surname pronounced /ʃəˈleɪlə/; born February 14, 1941) has served as president of the University of Miami, a private university in Coral Gables, Florida, since 2001. Her career has been the subject of both success and controversy.[1]

Prior to her appointment as University of Miami President, she served for eight years as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Clinton.

Shalala is an honorary board member of the American Iranian Council, an organization that seeks to promote a more comprehensive understanding of US-Iran relations.


Early life

Shalala was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Lebanese immigrant parents (James and Edna) and 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, was merged with Miami University in Oxford, Ohio).

She served as a volunteer in the Peace Corps in Iran from 1962 to 1964, where she worked with other volunteers to construct an agricultural college.[2]

She received a Master's and then, in 1970, a Doctorate degree from the Maxwell School of Public Affairs and Citizenship at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.

Academic career

Shalala did not hold a full-time, paying job until she was 30. At that age, she began a series of affiliations with several colleges. Her first such job was teaching politics 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, where her policies were a source of great controversy, with one being overruled by a court and another being revoked by a subsequent administration.

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.[3] 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.[4]

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. She was named in part of a Association of American Physicians and Surgeons lawsuit AAPS v. Clinton, over the closed door meetings on health care, Ira Magaziner was fine in the suit and but was removed on appeal. [5][6]

In her role as HHS Secretary, Shalala frequently drew criticism from political conservatives and moderates for her liberal positions. The Washington Post labeled her "one of the most controversial Clinton Cabinet nominees--one who had been branded by critics as being too liberal and politically correct." [7] However, Shalala was also known for her fervent anti-drug stance, a view that is traditionally conservative.

University of Miami accomplishments

Since Shalala's 2001 appointment, UM progressed in its national academic standing, as assessed by U.S. News & World Report, moving up 14 spots, from 66th (in 2001) to 52nd (in 2007) among 254 "National Universities" .

She 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.

U.S. News & World Report ranked UM's School of Business Administration as the 44th best business school in the nation. Also, UM's Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, which is affiliated with UM's Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, was ranked the best hospital in the nation for opthalmology.

University of Miami custodial strike

Main article: University of Miami 2006 custodial workers' strike

In early 2006, under Shalala's leadership, the university was involved in a custodial workers' strike, a dispute between the university's then non-unionized custodial workers (now represented by the SEIU labor union) and the university's contractor, UNICCO. The strike, which lasted from February 28 to May 1, 2006, generated extensive campus and off-campus criticism of Shalala and UNICCO's labor relationship with its UM-based custodians. While various studies had shown that UM's custodial workers were among the lowest paid university-based custodians in the nation, Shalala and her administration failed to act on any of these reports until the nationally-publicized strike prompted her to then raise wages. Shalala also drew criticism from some striking workers and protesters for appearing to take the side of UM's contractor on how a union vote should be taken and for not acting earlier to prevent the strike..[8]

Co-chair of Presidential Commission

On March 6, 2007 President George W. Bush named Shalala and 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, but has left even less time for Shalala's role as University of Miami President.

The commission includes 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.[9] The commission subsequently issued several recommendations for improvement of these facilities.


She serves on the board of the Albert Shanker Institute, a small, three-member staff organization named for the former head of the American Federation of Teachers.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ PeaceCorpsOnline web site.
  3. ^ The Washington Post, Donna Shalala biography at The Washington Post.
  4. ^ "Cracking the Speech Code: When the University of Wisconsin sat down to evaluate its repressive faculty speech code, nobody expected free speech to win. Here's how it happened," Reason magazine, July 1999.
  6. ^ Court Clears Clinton Aide In Lying Case, NY Times, August 25, 1999 [3]
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Is Donna Shalala Anti-Union?" Working Life magazine, November 21, 2005
  9. ^ PeaceCorpsOnline
Preceded by
Bernard Cecil Cohen
Chancellor of the
University of Wisconsin-Madison

1987 – 1993
Succeeded by
David Ward
Preceded by
Louis W. Sullivan
United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
Served Under: Bill Clinton

1993 – 2001
Succeeded by
Tommy Thompson
Preceded by
Tad Foote
1981 – 2001
President of the
University of Miami

2001 – Present
Succeeded by
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Donna_Shalala". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE