New UM Leader

Monday, August 17, 2015

UM's new leader already a sharp contrast to Shalala

By John Dorschner    
    In sharp contrast to his predecessor, UM's new president started his job on Sunday so quietly that, well, the major media didn't even notice.
    Only on the University of Miami's webpage did the news receive a big splash: "Julio Frenk, a physician, former dean at Harvard University, and the former minister of health for Mexico, steps into his new role today as the sixth president of the University of Miami." 
Julio Frenk photo from

    Contrast that with the arrival of Donna Shalala in 2001. The story on the lead page of the local section of The Miami Herald was dramatic as she started the job:
    "Donna Shalala doesn't pull punches. `I am going to shake things up,'' says the University of Miami's new president."
    On this Sunday, The Herald chose to do a profile on Don Shula, who hasn't coached in decades, to lead its front page. No mention was made of Frenk's start.
    Frenk has his work cut out for him. UM, as are many private universities, is in a constant struggle to find donors, grants and research funds to keep down the ever-rising tuition fees.
    Frenk's medical background means he will be particularly knowledgeable about UM's Miller School of Medicine, which suffered through massive layoffs several years ago to correct major budget deficits. 

     Since UM purchased its own hospital across the street from Jackson Memorial, medicine has been the major source of revenue for the university -- a situation that has caused some to joke that UM is a medical school with an undergraduate program attached.
    While Shalala immediately threatened to "shake things up," Frenk sent a lengthy letter to faculty and students saying he will consider what the community needed before charging ahead:
    "As part of my first 100 days in office, I am initiating an intensive listening project, and I invite you to share with me your aspirations and hopes for the U. My first Town Hall meeting on September 10 will offer an opportunity to hear from you and to learn about the many ways in which we can build on our rich legacy to take the University of Miami to its second century. At that meeting we will define a structured process to collect, collate, and synthesize the suggestions from all members of our community."

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