Donna Shalala, PhD, has been announced as the commencement speaker for Drexel’s 2016 class-wide commencement ceremony at Citizen’s Bank Park. Shalala was chosen as a speaker due to her extensive background in education and political leadership.
Shalala currently serves as president of the Clinton Foundation, and is the former president of the University of Miami. Under former President Bill Clinton’s administration, Shalala served as United States Secretary of Health and Human Services — a position she was appointed to in 1993. Shalala also served in President Jimmy Carter’s administration as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Her experience in education has also been a key part of her career. While she was president of the University of Miami, the school increased its research efforts and became known as one of the top research universities in the nation. She is the second woman in the nation to ever lead a top research university.
Aside from serving as president for the University of Miami, Shalala also held the position of chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for six years, as well as president of Hunter College for seven years.
She has been recognized with various awards as an exceptional woman leader. She was named Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year in 1994, and also holds a place in the National Women’s Hall of Fame located in Seneca Falls, NY.
Some students however are less than delighted that Shalala will be the commencement speaker this year. Senior biology major Alyssa Lipcsey gave her opinion of Shalala to The Triangle.
“I think what really concerns me about Donna Shalala being our commencement speaker is her ties to the Clinton Foundation. I feel Hillary Clinton often claims transparency and being an advocate for women’s rights but this foundation does the complete opposite… I’ll freely admit, I am not aware of Shalala’s accomplishments but I am aware of a few of her shortcomings and they just don’t sit right with me,” Lipcsey stated, her distrust in the Clinton Foundation.
Shalala will be speaking at Drexel’s first ever combined commencement ceremony, where all graduating seniors will attend the same ceremony.