University of Miami President Donna Shalala announced today that she'll be stepping down at the end of this academic year after 14 years.
She assumed the job after serving for eight years as the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton Administration, and oversaw the school's rise in academic reputation, the athletic program's move to the ACC, and managed to win a Presidential Medal of Freedom in her free time.
"It is with gratitude and affection for the University that I share with you my decision to step down at the end of the 2014-2015 university year," Shalala announced in a letter. "A long time ago a friend advised me to always leave a job when you still love it. That is certainly the case here."
"One of the best aspects of this job has been living in Miami, a community I knew only from childhood trips to visit grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins during the holidays," she continued recognizing her role not just as a leader at the school but in the community as a whole. "This great community is maddening, delightful, and limitless in its vitality and promise. We have worked hard to be good neighbors and civic leaders. I am personally delighted to continue to be part of its extraordinary future. Like the University, it needs to always pursue excellence with a razor-sharp focus that only great communities deserve."
Shalala, 73, was the first member of the Clinton cabinet to announce her next step back in 2001. She hit the ground in Coral Gables running by announcing the "Momentum" campaign designed to raise the University's endowment by $1 billion dollars. The campaign hit the $1.2 billion mark in 2007. The school is currently fundraising for the Momentum2 campaign, with plans to have raised another $1.6 billion by 2016.
Shalala also oversaw the school's move to the Atlantic Coast Conference form the Big East, a controversial move at the time. She also stared down the NCAA during its long, foot-dragging investigation in the Nevin Shapiro scandal and is generally credited with a win in that fight.
Shalala helped bring the first 2004 presidential debate between George Bush and John Kerry to the school, and helped the school to attract several high-profile speakers including Bill Clinton, Al Gore and the Dalai Lama through out her run.
Naturally, as a close friend of Hillary Clinton, some are speculating that Shalala's retirement may be connected to Clinton's 2016 presidential plans. Shalala has not announced what she will do next.
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