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Donna Shalala Will Step Down As University of Miami President

JD Lasica

University of Miami president Donna Shalala says she’s stepping down next year from the job she’s held since 2001.

Shalala came to the university after leading the federal health agency for eight years and serving as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

 She helped build the national stature of the school's medical school and hospital and increased research budgets.

Frank Nero, former head of the Beacon Council, says even big businessmen were impressed by Shalala


“It was always a big deal," he says.

The Beacon Council recruits businesses to locate or expand in Miami-Dade County.

 Nero says he could count on Shalala to bring plenty of charm – and a little muscle – to the group’s efforts.

Nero says Shalala made an effective pitch.

“I always liked her line that she said: ‘You know, I could have [gone] anywhere in the United States and gotten a job, but I chose Miami.’”

But Shalala's tenure was not without criticism. The medical school laid off 900 full- and -part-time workers in 2012 because of budget issues.

And the school hospital's partnership with Jackson Memorial Hopsital, the county's largest public hospital, has been strained. Jackson has accused the university of siphoning insured patients away from Jackson -- leaving Jackson to cover patients with no insurance.

In a statement, Shalala says she’s leaving the job while she still loves it.

 She’ll retire at the end of the university’s 2014-2015 school year.