UM Professor taught Shalala

Imagine you’re sitting in a lecture hall taking notes as your professor discusses political theories. Now imagine the same scene 35 years back-the student, President Donna E. Shalala, the professor, Dr. Fred Frohock, chair of the political science department at UM.

Although it may be hard to believe for some, Shalala actually was a college student, having attended Western College in Oxford, Ohio. Afterwards, she continued her education in Syracuse University to pursue a doctorate. It was at Syracuse where she attended a graduate seminar required of all Ph.D. students in the political science department: Logic of Inquiry, created and taught by Frohock during his early years in Syracuse.

“The reading was very theoretical, at times quite technical and designed to acquaint doctoral students with the background concepts of research programs,” Frohock said. “I do remember Shalala as one of the very best students in that seminar.”

Afterwards, Shalala continued her career, while Frohock continued his, gaining recognition for the various published books he wrote on topics ranging from political philosophy to bioethics. But Frohock never forgot one of his best students.

“In fact, when I was chair of a search committee at SU some years ago, I tried to hire her there,” he said. “I’m glad now that she wasn’t interested!”

When Frohock came to UM in January 2005, the two would become connected again in a university setting-but in a different way.

Now under the auspices of a former student, Frohock tackles on the challenge of heading an entire department. Additionally he has taken the endeavor of raising the department’s status in the academic world-a responsibility he welcomes.

“I am very happy that she is president of the University of Miami. She is very talented with a great track record in both the academic and political worlds,” Frohock said. “I can testify personally to her abilities, and my conviction that she has the skills and intellect needed to take UM to the highest levels of academic excellence is one reason I decided to chair the UM political science department. So I am delighted that she is my boss even as I am not sure that the term ‘boss’ applies to a university setting.”

Frohock’s focus now is to raise the political science department’s profile. In trying to shift the intellectual culture of the department, Frohock encourages faculty and students to share their research in workshops and public presentations. Another goal is to connect the department with other parts of the UM campus and on a national level, with other school’s political science departments.

“I like a department characterized by open office doors, people exchanging ideas in formal and informal settings, generally a department with a robust flow of talk,” he said.

Also of high priority is the hiring of new faculty.

“It is often said that real estate values depend on three considerations: location, location, location,” Frohock said. “Well, in the UM political science department, our immediate and distal success will depend on three factors: hiring, hiring, hiring.”

Christian Martinez can be contacted at