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Campus & Community

Shalala to receive Radcliffe Medal

4 min read

Leader in education and government, health care advocate to receive medal, give keynote address

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study has announced that Donna E. Shalala, president of the University of Miami and former U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, will be awarded the 2008 Radcliffe Institute Medal at the annual Radcliffe Day luncheon on Friday (June 6) at 12:45 p.m. Barbara J. Grosz, dean of the Radcliffe Institute, will make opening remarks and present the medal. Shalala will deliver the keynote address.

Each year, during Harvard-Radcliffe Commencement week, the Radcliffe Institute gives the Radcliffe Institute Medal to an individual whose life and work have substantially and positively influenced society. In 2007, the medal was awarded to author Toni Morrison. Other past honorees include Linda Greenhouse, Madeleine Korbel Albright, and Margaret Atwood.

For her more than 25-year commitment to improving lives through higher education and government — as a teacher, administrator, scholar, volunteer, and advocate for better and increased access to health care in the United States — Shalala was selected to receive the 2008 Radcliffe Institute Medal. In particular, she is being recognized as a champion for improved health services for children, veterans, and disadvantaged Americans, and for her work to help advance women and minorities through education and in their careers.

In 2007, Shalala chaired the National Academies’ committee that helped co-author the pathbreaking report “Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering.” Based on significant research, the report put forth recommendations and a call-to-action plan to improve the pipeline of women in science.

Since 2001, Shalala has served as president of the University of Miami, where she is also a professor of political science. From 1987 to 1993, she was chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and, thus, the first woman to head a Big Ten University. Her earlier teaching career includes appointments at Columbia University and Yale Law School. Shalala’s public service record is equally distinguished, from her entry into service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Iran to her eventual presidential Cabinet position.

In 1993, she was appointed secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) by President Bill Clinton. Her eight-year tenure in that role made her the longest-serving HHS secretary in U.S. history. With Shalala at the helm, many important improvements to HHS occurred, including the implementation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP); record child immunization rates; and substantial reforms to the welfare process, FDA processes, and Medicare policy. Shalala was previously the assistant secretary for Public Development and Research in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Carter administration. In 2007, at the request of President George W. Bush, she co-chaired the Commission on Care for Returning Wounded Warriors with Sen. Bob Dole.

Shalala is a trustee of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, serves on the Council of Foreign Relations, and is an elected member of numerous organizations, including the National Academy of Education, the National Academy of Public Administration, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Among her many honors is the National Public Service Award and more than 36 honorary degrees. She earned her doctoral degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Business Week magazine has called her one of higher education’s top five managers, and the Washington Post has recognized her as “one of the most successful government managers of modern times.” U.S. News & World Report named her one of “America’s Best Leaders.”

The Radcliffe Day luncheon is open to Radcliffe and Harvard alumnae/i and their guests.

The Radcliffe Institute selected 34 women and 18 men to be 2008-09 Radcliffe Fellows. Humanists, scientists, creative artists, and social scientists will work individually and across disciplines on a wide range of projects. To view a full list of fellows, http://www.radcliffe.edu/fellows.