President Shalala Discusses Joining The New School
This August, The New School was pleased to welcome Dr. Donna E. Shalala as the university’s Interim President. Over the past month, President Shalala has been meeting with students, faculty, and staff around campus to learn more about the innovative, creative, and engaged people who make up our community.
President Shalala recently spoke with New School News, sharing her excitement about joining the university, how she approaches her work, and the books on her bedside table.
What is it about The New School that inspired you to take this position?
Sui generis. Unique—in a class by itself. There is no equivalent in higher ed.
You have had a distinguished career in higher education and government, having served in the past as the leader of three universities, as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and a member of President Bill Clinton’s cabinet. What lessons or insights have you taken away from these diverse roles?
Each required a different strategy. I am like a chameleon. I have to get to know an institution first—not just by briefings but walking around and LISTENING.
Earlier in your career, you served as President of Hunter College and have been faculty at Columbia University. What excites you most about being back in New York City?
What books are on your bedside table right now? Are there any recent TV shows or movies that excite you?
A Light in Dark Times by Judith Friedlander
Lucky Dogs by Helen Schulman
The Collector by Daniel Silva
Preventable by Andy Slavitt
The Globalization Myth by Shannon K. O’Neil