American University Appoints Obama Cabinet Member As Its PresidentBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
Former cabinet member of the Obama administration, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, has been confirmed as the 15th president of American University. She will also be the first woman to lead the school. The Washington Post reported that Burwell served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget under the Obama administration in 2013 to 2014. Afterwards, she became the secretary of health and human services until his term ended last week. Burwell oversaw the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
She will be taking over at American University on Jun. 1. Burwell will succeed President Cornelius Martin "Neil" Kerwin, who will be retiring soon. She expressed her honor and excitement in becoming a part of the school's community. Burwell's move to the academic industry has been compared to Donna Shalala, secretary of health and human services under President Bill Clinton.
However, Burwell's background is different from Shalala, who has worked in the academic world before she became secretary at HHS. Shalala became president of the University of Miami in 2001 and led the school for 14 years.
The upcoming American University president earned her bachelor's degree in government from Ivy League institution Harvard. She was also a Rhodes Scholar and earned a bachelor's in philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University.
AU will be Burwell's first stint to leading a college or university. While she may not have experience in the academic industry, her experiences with the Obama and Clinton administration as well as during her time as president of global development programs for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation can help her in leading the university.
According to the Washington Business Journal, Mr. Kerwin has announced in March last year that he will be stepping down this May. His contract expires by then.
Burwell admitted that she got attracted to American University because it placed focus on public service, "upward trajectory" and innovation. All of which, according to her, "is basis to build on and move to the next step."