Upstate News

January 10, 2007
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Donna Shalala, Ph.D., to lead symposium on women in science and academia March 13

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Donna E. Shalala, Ph.D., president of the University of Miami and one of the leading figures in academia today, will present the keynote address at a symposium, “On the Other Side of the Glass Ceiling: Reflections on the Status of Women in Science and Academia,” March 13 at Syracuse Stage, 820 E. Genesee St., Syracuse.

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, is hosted by SUNY Upstate Medical University. Advanced registration is required. To register, call 1-888-384-8436.

“There are significant challenges to the success for women in academia and in science and having a day set aside to identify markers for success and ongoing challenges is vital to the community,” said Sara Grethlein, M.D., a SUNY Upstate associate professor and associate dean for graduate medical education, who chairs the symposium planning committee.

Grethlein said Shalala’s presence at the symposium is timely and significant. Shalala served as chair of a panel that developed the recently released document titled “Beyond Bias & Barriers: The National Academy of Sciences Report on Women in Academic Science & Engineering.” The report noted that while women in the last 30 years have earned 30 percent of the doctoral degrees in behavioral and social sciences and 20 percent of the doctoral degrees in the life sciences, there are still few serving as full professors. Virtually absent from this rank are women from minority groups. The report noted that a lack of women in science and engineering was an “underuse of precious human capital.” The report recommended that changes be made to tenure and promotion tracking systems and that more support be provided to working families, among other suggestions.

While Shalala’s presentation will provide a national take on the issue of women in science and academic, a panel of women presidents from area colleges and universities will provide the local analysis and observation. Panelists will include Debbie L. Sydow, Ph. D., of Onondaga Community College, Deborah F. Stanley, Ph.D., of SUNY Oswego, Lois B. DeFleur, Ph.D., of Binghamton University and Rebecca S. Chopp, Ph.D., of Colgate University.

In addition to the presidential panel, the daylong symposium will feature presentations by SUNY Upstate faculty, students and staff members on various issues pertaining to career paths, leadership and respect.

Shalala’s visit to Syracuse will mark a homecoming of sorts. She earned a doctorate from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has held tenured professorships at Columbia University, the City University of New York (CUNY), and the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She served as president of Hunter College of CUNY from 1980 to 1987 and as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1987 to 1993.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her U.S. secretary of health and human services (HHS) where she served for eight years, becoming the longest serving HHS Secretary in U.S. history. She also served in the Carter Administration as assistant secretary for policy development and research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

She became president of the University of Miami June 1, 2001.

Among Shalala’s numerous awards and accolades is her selection as one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News and World Report and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

The symposium begins with registration at 8 a.m. and ends at 4:45 p.m. A continental breakfast, lunch and reception will be available to all attendees.

The SUNY Upstate symposium will be an annual event, covering a variety of timely and provocative topics. Funding to launch this initiative was provided by SUNY Upstate President David R. Smith, M.D., who has declined a traditional inaugural celebration of his presidency to fund the symposium.

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