Who was the UW’s first female chancellor?
It was January 1988 (brr!) when Donna Shalala was appointed chancellor. And since we have you here, it behooves us to share that she was also the first woman to oversee a Big Ten university and the second woman to lead a key research university. A distinguished and dynamic leader, she established the Madison Plan, which focused on recruiting and employing minority students and faculty, helping to address racial tensions on campus. In 2010, Shalala received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights, and in 2018, she was inducted into the UW Athletic Hall of Fame. Speaking of firsts, Shalala was among the first Peace Corp volunteers, serving in Iran from 1962–64. But wait, there’s more! She left the UW in 1993 and went on to become the longest-serving Secretary of Health and Human Services in U.S. history. The granddaughter of Lebanese immigrants, Congresswoman Shalala was elected to the House of Representatives in 2018 at the age of 77. Today, she proudly represents Miami, Florida, advocating for women’s rights, civil rights, access to healthcare, better public schools, and a clean and suitable environment. The first female chancellor to helm the UW was (and still is) a bona fide powerhouse!