Montana State University

MSU to award honorary doctorates to former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and Yellowstone historian

March 7, 2014 -- Anne Cantrell, MSU News Service

Yellowstone National Park historian Lee Whittlesey will receive an honorary doctorate degree during MSU’s spring commencement on Saturday, May 3. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.Donna Shalala, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and current president of the University of Miami, will receive an honorary doctorate degree during MSU's spring commencement on Saturday, May 3.  Photo courtesy of the University of Miami.

Yellowstone National Park historian Lee Whittlesey will receive an honorary doctorate degree during MSU’s spring commencement on Saturday, May 3. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
msunews@montana.edu

Donna E. Shalala, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Clinton administration and current president of the University of Miami, and Yellowstone National Park historian Lee Whittlesey will receive honorary doctorate degrees during Montana State University’s spring commencement, university officials announced today. 

MSU's spring commencement ceremonies are scheduled for 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3, at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. Shalala will receive an honorary doctorate in nursing during the morning ceremony, and Whittlesey will receive an honorary doctorate in history during the afternoon ceremony.           

“Montana State University is privileged to honor Donna Shalala and Lee Whittlesey with the highest commendation the Montana Board of Regents can confer,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “Both have had extraordinarily distinguished careers and are extremely deserving of this recognition.”

Shalala, 73, was named president of the University of Miami and professor of political science in 2001. She has more than 30 years of experience as a scholar, teacher and administrator. She also served for eight years as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton.

Shalala has a bachelor’s degree in history from Western College for Women and a doctorate from The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. As one of the country’s first Peace Corps volunteers, she served in Iran from 1962 to 1964. She has held tenured professorships at Columbia University, the City University of New York and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also served as president of Hunter College of the City University of New York and as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also a distinguished senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program and the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution.

In addition to serving as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Shalala served in the Carter administration from 1977-80 as assistant secretary for policy development and research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 2007, President George W. Bush picked Shalala and U.S. Sen. Bob Dole as co-chairs of the Commission on Care for Returning Wounded Warriors. In 2009 she was appointed chair of the Committee on the Future of Nursing at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Shalala has a host of honors, including the 1992 National Public Service Award and the 1994 Glamour magazine Woman of the Year Award. In 1992, Business Week named her one of the top five managers in higher education; in 2005, she was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report; in 2008, President Bush presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award; and in 2010 she received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights, which recognizes individuals for outstanding dedication to improving the health and life chances of disadvantaged populations in South Africa and internationally. In 2011, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. 

Whittlesey, 63, has served as historian of Yellowstone National Park for a decade. He has also spent more than 40 years researching and writing about the history of the Yellowstone region and is recognized as an international authority on Yellowstone’s vast historical literature.

Among many others books, Whittlesey has authored “Yellowstone Place Names” and “Death in Yellowstone.” His work has led to considerable acclaim, including appearances on ABC News, NBC News, the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel, the History Channel, People magazine, and in the 2009 Ken Burns film, "The National Parks: America’s Best Idea."

In addition, Whittlesey has published many peer-reviewed journal articles, scholarly book chapters and other publications, as a well as numerous historical reports on a variety of subjects of importance to Yellowstone National Park managers, scholars, park interpreters and other educators. He has also served on the editorial advisory board of the Montana Historical Society.

In addition to his scholarly work, over the years Whittlesey has held many positions in Yellowstone, including park archivist, park ranger, tour guide, tour bus driver, communications specialist and company historian for the park concessioner, TW Services.

Whittlesey previously taught a course on Yellowstone National Park history for the MSU history department, and he continues to conduct popular short courses in Yellowstone history for the general public at the Yellowstone Institute. He is frequently seen in regional and local media discussing the details and meanings of Yellowstone-area history.

Whittlesey has a law degree from the University of Oklahoma, a master’s degree in history from MSU, and an honorary doctorate of science and humane letters from Idaho State University.

For more information about MSU's spring commencement, visit http://www.montana.edu/commencement.

Contact: Tracy Ellig, (406) 994-4571 or tellig@montana.edu