CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 29, 2017)—Former University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala, the longest-serving U.S. secretary of health and human services who has headed three institutions of higher learning over her illustrious career, received the Legend in Leadership Award for Higher Education at the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute’s Higher Education Leadership Summit last week.
Presented by Diana Chapman Walsh, president emerita of Wellesley College, and Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, president emeritus of The George Washington University, the award recognized Shalala for being “an inspiring, highly accomplished, and revered leader across sectors, political parties, generations, and communities.”
“In each institution she has led, she has profoundly enhanced its performance, its integrity, and its educational vitality,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean for leadership studies at the Yale School of Management, which hosted the summit. “She has also been one of the greatest mentors developing platoons of rising leadership talent.”
In addition to her 14 years as UM’s fifth and first female president, Shalala also led Hunter College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison—where she was the first woman to head a Big 10 university—the Children’s Defense Fund, the Clinton Foundation, and, for eight years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, serving in President Bill Clinton’s cabinet. Now Trustee Professor of Political Science and Health Policy at UM, she remains president of the Clinton Foundation.
At UM, she was responsible for increasing the average freshman SAT scores by more than 100 points, raising $3 billion in funding, and drawing star researchers to enhance the University’s profile. Under her leadership, UM rose from No. 67 to the top 50 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings.
During the invitation-only Higher Education Summit, Shalala joined distinguished higher education presidents and board chairs from across the U.S. in lively, candid discussions on this year’s theme, “Winning Back Hearts & Minds: Leading Higher Education Beyond the Bubble.”