Interested in taking a class in healthcare policy with the longest serving secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the country’s history?
Too late, unless one of the 20 students enrolled in POL 536 gets cold feet and drops out. When the office of the registrar opened Wednesday morning, five seats remained open. One hour later, they were gone.
The class, which will be taught in President Shalala’s conference room, marks the veteran lecturer’s debut as a professor at UM.
“As soon as I heard about the class, I just knew I had to take it,” said junior Israel Andrews, 21, who believes taking the course will increase his chances of getting into a top Medical School. ” I have heard from friends that many of the questions you have to answer when applying for Medical School relate to policy,” he added.
The course will delve into major health policy issues such as providing healthcare for the elderly and the uninsured.
Students will be “looking at how people make decisions,” said Shalala, who said the recent anthrax scare will likely be addressed. “We will probably examine how the government handled the situation.”
Since Shalala left Washington, many of the rules of the game have changed.
“I can’t teach from my old notes,” said Shalala, who intends to work on the syllabus during the summer.
Enrolled students be warned: “There will be a lot of writing involved,” said Shalala, who added she’s not big on tests, but intends to assign short papers every week.
As far as grades go, the president said she’s got “very tough standards.”
Andrews is not scared. “Believe me,” he said, “it can’t be worse than microbiology.”
June Dreyer, chairperson of the Political Science Department is very excited the president will teach a course that has never been offered.
“This is obviously a subject she knows a lot about,” said Dreyer. “It’s a really exceptional opportunity to take a course with an international authority on the topic.”
Shalala headed the Department of Health and Human Services for eight years during Bill Clinton’s administration.
At the beginning of her term she had a budget of approximately $600 billion to run a variety of programs including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Child Care and Head Start, Welfare, the Public Health Service, the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.
Shalala, who taught while she served as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and president of Hunter College, intends to teach at least one class per year. The next one will likely be in education, although for the time being her mind is once more fixed on healthcare politic.
“I’m extremely excited,” she said “It’s a very hot issue.”