“La bienvenida a la Universidad de Miami!” was the message an excited audience of community members, university officials and students sent to newly announced President of the University of Miami, Dr. Julio Frenk. Frenk is the first Hispanic president in UM’s history, a bold statement for the future of the school and city.
Dr. Frenk, former Minister of Health of Mexico, touted “While I pride myself on being a global citizen, Latin America is my region of origin, and I welcome the opportunity to continue building lasting academic bridges across our Hemisphere.”
The announcement came after months of meetings and research conducted by the Presidential Search Committee.
Frenk lead Harvard’s School of Public Health before accepting the position at University of Miami. Additionally, he has over 140 scholarly publications, was a Senior Fellow on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (the Microsoft guru) and was an administrator on the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. The 61- year old scholar and leader professed he is “excited” for this opportunity. With a strong leader replacing Shalala, the University is ready for the rapidly evolving city of Miami and Latin American market.
All eyes are on Latin America. While 1 in 4 UM students identify as Latino/Hispanic descent, the number has decreased in recent years. Dr. Frenk’s selection is timely with the booming entrepreneurship and technology economy in Latin America, with the city of Miami as the hub. Recent Bachelors of General Studies alumn Iris Barrios, an immigrant of Nicaragua, said that she is “super excited to welcome the 1st Hispanic President of UM!! This is great news for immigrants everywhere but especially here in Miami!”
Such cohesion between different countries and academic disciplines propels the school into the “New Miami”- a Miami that competes with global cities like Singapore, New York, and Shanghai. Donna Shalala positioned UM as an academic powerhouse, and now Dr. Frenk is positioning UM for leading the world’s next global city: Miami.
An important audience member was Jorge Perez, CEO of the Related Group. If you have ever ventured off campus to Brickell or Downtown Miami- chances are Perez’s Related Group developed the tall towers and city centers. Perez, whose son is a UM alum, sat front and center for the announcement. His vision for Miami has culminated with over 4 billion dollars of current developments, with the University of Miami as a pivotal role. Education, talent, and innovation all affect urban development of an emerging global city. Each person and system plays a role.
The new president recognized Miami’s position as a global city. “I greatly appreciate the value of Miami’s privileged geographic location as the gateway connecting Latin America and the Caribbean with the United States.”
Such relationships in both the University community and international community position the University for the next generation of global success.
As Donna Shalala ends her tenure at the University of Miami, a new chapter is being written as the next home of the rapidly emerging global city: Miami.
words_david capelli. photo_courtesy of UM media.
David Capelli is a graduating senior and Founder of TECH Miami nonprofit engaging student entrepreneurs in Miami. He is a former Aviation Operations Intern for Miami-Dade County.