Former HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell will stay in Washington, D.C., as the first female president of American University, a private liberal arts college. She begins the role June 1.
Burwell, 51, is moving to the academic sector after nearly three years as HHS secretary under the Obama administration. She helped implement the Affordable Care Act.
She is not the first government official to move to academia although she lacks prior experience in the sector. Donna Shalala, HHS secretary under President Bill Clinton, became president of the University of Miami shortly after her post with the administration ended.
Burwell's appointment as HHS secretary following the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius garnered bipartisan support from the Senate.
Burwell began her political career with the Clinton administration, serving as White House deputy chief of staff for policy from 1997 to 1998. She joined the Obama administration in 2013 as director of the Office of Management and Budget.
She has a bachelor's degree in government from Harvard University and was a Rhodes scholar.
Burwell has also previously served as president of the Walmart Foundation and president of the Global Development Program for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“My family and I are honored and excited to become a part of this vibrant AU community,” Burwell said. “American University's distinctive mix of academic strengths, its influential scholars, engaged students, successful alumni and extraordinary location are great assets.”
At AU, Burwell succeeds President Cornelius M. “Neil” Kerwin, who is retiring.