Donna E. Shalala to speak at UAHuntsville’s spring commencement 2011

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (July 6, 2011) — Donna E. Shalala, president of the University of Miami and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, will give the keynote address during the spring commencement ceremony on Saturday, August 13, at 9 a.m., at Spragins Hall on the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville) campus.

            During the ceremony, 1021 degrees will be conferred. UAHuntsville will award 794 bachelor’s degrees, 194 master’s degrees and 33 doctoral (PhD) and doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degrees. Shalala will be awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree during commencement services.

            At 9 a.m. on Saturday, all College of Liberal Arts, Nursing, and Science undergraduates, and master’s degree students will receive their diplomas. And, PhD and DNP students will be hooded during the ceremony.

         During the noon ceremony all College of Engineering, and Business Administration undergraduates and master’s degree students will receive their diplomas. All engineering and business Ph.D., students will be hooded at the service.

            Donna E. Shalala became professor of Political Science and President of the University of Miami on June 1, 2001. She has more than 30 years of experience as an accomplished scholar, teacher, and administrator.

            In 1993 President Bill Clinton appointed Shalala 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). 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.” 

            Shalala also served in President Jimmy Carter’s administration from 1977-80 as assistant secretary for Public Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

            She is a director of Gannett Co., Inc., the Lennar Corporation, and Mednax, Inc. 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 member’s transition from active duty to civilian society. In 2009 she was appointed chair of the Committee on the Future of Nursing, at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

            Born in Cleveland, Ohio, 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. She has held tenured professorships at Columbia University, the City University of New York, 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.

            Shalala has more than four 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 1992, Business Week named her one of the top five managers in higher education; 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; and she received the 2010 Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights, which recognizes individuals for outstanding dedication to improving the health and life chances of disadvantaged populations in South Africa and internationally.

            In June 2008, President Bush presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. 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.

For more information

Joyce Anderson-Maples
(256) 824-2101