CICC Member Spotlight


Florida by the Numbers

  • Florida is home to more than 30 independent colleges and universities that serve over 130,000 students.
  • Florida ranks third nationally in the number of students receiving Pell Grants, with 500,586 students receiving more than $2 billion annually.
  • Florida ranks fourth in the number of students receiving Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, with 55,630 students receiving $42,614,014 annually.
  • Florida ranks sixth in the number of students receiving Federal Work Study awards, with 25,986 students receiving $53,856,726 annually. 
  • Three independent colleges and universities are in Rep. Shalala's district:


Donna Shalala (D-FL)

    Donna E. Shalala served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a member of the 116th Congress, she served on the House Committees on Education and Labor and Rules. She also was a member of the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus.  She is the former president (2001-2015) of the University of Miami (FL) and served as the 18th U.S. Secretary of Health Human Services (1993-2001).

Q: Why did you decide to join the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus?
A: Coming from my most recent tenure as president of the University of Miami (UM), I was thinking a lot about the issues affecting independent colleges and the students that attend them. Not only is the Caucus bipartisan and bicameral, it also encourages members from all backgrounds to lead on issues impacting thousands of constituents in their districts. In our rapidly evolving and globalized world, independent colleges produce critical thinkers who possess the confidence and flexibility to adapt and learn new skills. I joined the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus to help the group grow and serve as a vocal advocate for these institutions in Congress.



“Donna Shalala has long been a passionate and credible voice for independent colleges and universities. As my predecessor at the University of Miami, she has a deep understanding of our mission
and the value our institution and health system add for students
and patients in our local and global communities. We are grateful
for her ongoing support of our students and her tireless
advocacy for transformative education, research, and service
in South Florida.”

 - Julio Frenk, Ph.D.   
President, University of Miami  


Q: What contributions are independent colleges making in your district?There are several private, nonprofit colleges and universities in Florida’s 27th Congressional District that serve thousands of students from all over South Florida. The University of Miami employs more than 13,000 employees and has contributed over $2.5 billion dollars to our local and regional economy. The impact and contributions extend to many sectors and touch countless lives. Each year, thousands of patients choose the world class UM Health System for specialized medical treatment. With new, cutting-edge technology, top ranked professionals, and first-rate facilities, UM contributes to the health and wellness of the people in our district and the greater South Florida community. The school also engages its academic resources with surrounding communities to enrich civic and community life.

Q: How do you see these schools innovating?
A: In order for these great independent institutions to succeed, it is critical they understand the complexities and needs of a diverse South Florida community. UM is currently working with various faculty and staff to come up with innovative ideas to integrate mixed reality into their classes. This technology allows students to merge digital content with their physical environment across many disciplines. Students are encouraged to present their ideas and generate original content in multiple languages – something incredibly important to our largely Spanish-speaking district. These programs have the potential to increase English language retention for thousands of struggling children in public schools.




“I have worked with Rep. Donna Shalala for over a decade, going
back to the time when she served as president of the
University of Miami.  At that time she was the best
college/university president in the state of Florida.  She
understood the contribution the independent higher education
sector made to the state and the students who attend these 30
nonprofit institutions in Florida.  She understood how vital it is to
have a strong and independent private sector to provide choice and
access to students, many who are minority and first time in
college in our sector.  And, she understood
the economic impact of our schools on the local and state economy. 
I believe she  will be a tireless advocate for continued access and adequate financial aid for the students who choose to
attend our Florida institutions.”

 - Robert J. Boyd, Esquire  
President & CEO  
Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida  


Q: As a Member of Congress, how do you support the opportunity for education?
Last month, I was proud to co-introduce the College Affordability Act alongside Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and my fellow colleagues on the Education and Labor Committee. This landmark HEA reauthorization bill provides every single American citizen with the opportunity to receive a quality, affordable college education that will lead to a rewarding career and won’t burden them with debt. I’m prioritizing protecting students from predatory institutions that only care about profits over academic success and student well-being . Too often, it is low-income and minority students who most need our help and yet are least supported, left in debt with no job prospects. My experience as a university president has taught me that student success ought to be the center of any academic institution’s goals.

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