UIS alum Donna Sollenberger to deliver speech at 2016 commencement

Tamarra Newbern, News Reporter

Donna Sollenberger, the current executive vice president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Health System, will be the featured speaker at the 2016 UIS commencement ceremony.

Sollenberger received a phone call from Chancellor Susan Koch about six weeks ago and was asked to give a speech at commencement, which will take place on May 14 at 4 p.m. in the Prairie Capital Convention Center.

Sollenberger gladly accepted and was “very pleased and honored to speak to the class of 2016.”

Sollenberger was a part of the very first graduating class of Sangamon State University, as she received a bachelor’s degree in literature in 1971. In 1974, she followed that with a master’s degree in literature, also from UIS.

As the CEO of the UTMB Health System, Sollenberger “is responsible for providing operational and financial oversight for UTMB’s patient care enterprise that includes the hospital complex, a network of campus- and community-based clinics and a Correctional Managed Care program that provides care to three-fourths of the state’s incarcerated,” according to the UTMB website.

Before joining UTMB, Sollenberger held the positions of executive vice president and CEO at Baylor Clinic and Hospital, at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics, and at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Los Angeles California.

She has also been the vice president for Hospitals and Clinics at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

In 2005, the University of Illinois awarded Sollenberger with the University of Illinois Alumni Achievement Award. According to the UTMB website she was also deemed one of the top 25 women in healthcare by Modern Healthcare.

Looking back to when she first attended Sangamon State and how she felt being in the first graduating class, Sollenberger said, “At the time, I wasn’t that appreciative. Didn’t realize how historical my class was. I am grateful to have gotten a bachelor’s degree and finish my master’s.”

Although she didn’t think she was appreciative at the time, she believes that Sangamon State prepared her for a successful future.

Sollenberger believes in the three B’s of public speaking: Be prepared, Be brief, and Be seated.

She mentioned that she hopes her speech for this year’s commencement will leave an impression on students so they will be prepared for a successful and meaningful future.

To Sollenberger, success is having something that is lasting and meaningful to help shape the organization or environment around you.

“No matter what profession you’re in, what you are able to leave behind is meaningful,” Sollenberger said.