After Donna Shalala steps down as president of the University of Miami, she will take the reins of the Clinton Foundation.
News reports announced the move Friday afternoon before Bill and Chelsea Clinton confirmed it Friday night during remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative conference being held this weekend at the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus.
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Former president Bill Clinton spoke highly of Shalala as he made the announcement.
“I want all of you to know that I intend to recommend to our board of directors, with the full support of Hillary and Chelsea, that she be named the president and chief executive officer of the Clinton Foundation after she completes her term here,” he said. “I don’t know in my long life that I’ve ever worked with anybody that has quite the combination of policy knowledge and concern, political skills, a personal touch with people and a sense of innate fairness that inspires confidence across political, regional economic and psychological lines. She’s a remarkable person.”
Shalala, who served for eight years as Clinton’s secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced in September that she would step down as UM president this year. The 74-year-old has led the university for 14 years. She had also previously served as president of Hunter College of the City University of New York and as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
According to The Wall Street Journal’s report, Shalala will move to New York City later this year to head the foundation, now called the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Hillary Clinton will speak at UM on Saturday as part of the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative University, which encourages students to take action on issues of concern to them.
The foundation has made recent headlines after it acknowledged it accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and after she left the Obama administration in 2013. The Wall Street Journal reported the foundation received money last year from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman; the Washington Post found that about one-third of the foundation’s donations of $1 million or more came from foreign governments or institutions outside the country.
The foundation has said it receives support from around the globe and its programs improves the lives of millions of people. “Should Secretary Clinton decide to run for office, we will continue to ensure the foundation's policies and practices regarding support from international partners are appropriate, just as we did when she served as secretary of state,’’ the foundation said last month in a statement.
Shalala’s tenure at UM has been marked mainly by high-profile successes. She is noted for being an excellent fundraiser, raising billions of dollars to boost UM’s academics, particularly recruiting high-profile medical researchers to its medical school. In the widely read rankings by U.S. News & World Report, the university jumped from No. 67 to No. 47, to become Florida's highest-ranked school, in only nine years.
One blot on her record: The university’s athletics department was embroiled in a scandal involving former booster Nevin Shapiro, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for providing UM athletes with impermissible benefits such as cash, prostitutes and paid trips to restaurants and nightclubs. The controversy led to NCAA sanctions, as well as a self-imposed bowl ban.