MIAMI (Reuters) - University of Miami President Donna Shalala said on Monday she plans to step down at the end of the academic year.
Shalala, 73, was considered a major catch when she joined Miami's top private university in 2001 after serving as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services for eight years under President Bill Clinton, longer than any other has held the post.
"A long time ago a friend advised me to always leave a job when you still love it," she said in a statement posted on the university's website. "That is certainly the case here."
She thanked its trustees for "letting me take the university on a journey of excellence that was promising, but risky. It is so easy to stand still. Pursuing greatness is not for the meek or cautious," she wrote.
Among her many honors was receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award, from President George W. Bush in 2008.
Born in Cleveland of Lebanese heritage, she was president of Hunter College of the City University of New York from 1980 to 1987, and served as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1987 to 1993.
Shalala did not offer a reason for stepping down.
"Collectively, we have accomplished what we set out to do —secure the University of Miami’s place as the next great American research university," she said in her statement.
(Reporting by David Adams in Miami and Letitia Stein in Tampa; Editing by Doina Chiacu)