As a new member of the University of Miami family, President Julio Frenk was given a loud round of applause when he entered the stage for his welcome address to first-year students during orientation. Dr. Frenk and the students were both in the midst of their first official week as a Hurricane.
“Welcome to the University of Miami, I say that to you and I say that to myself and to my family. We are here, along with you, as the newest member of this great community and I hope you are all as proud as I am to be a Miami Hurricane,” said Dr. Frenk. “I can tell you I’ve held many jobs and many positions, but I would not like to be in any other place in the world more than here today at the University of Miami and that is because of you.”
The new president urged students to “embrace the life-changing spirit of discovery and take time to discover all we have to offer you at The U and beyond,” especially since this year marks 90 years since UM was founded.
Dr. Frenk also emphasized the importance of the knowledge learned at universities and how students must take what they learn in class and outside their major, and use it to make the world a better place.
“Universities really have a simple product, but it is a very powerful product. Our product is knowledge, and knowledge is a truly powerful force for enlightened social transformation. It is knowledge about the world that allows us to understand it, appreciate it and change it for the better,” he said.
Returning students, like junior Giselle Cruz, are eager to see what Dr. Frenk will accomplish with his time here, especially since upperclassmen were able to see how UM’s fifth president, Donna E. Shalala, was able to make a difference on campus.
“Shalala started a lot of great things and she set a standard. I think Dr. Frenk can too and wants to continue to make the university better,” she said.
Junior Elizabeth Bocanegra, who shares Dr. Frenk’s Mexican nationality, feels proud to have her roots represented by the president of the university and felt confident that he will improve UM.
“I thought he was very genuine about his enthusiasm for the school, seemed friendly, and very knowledgeable, knowing about all the incredible things he has done in his career made me feel proud that he’s our new president,” she said. “I also think it’s great to see people of different backgrounds, such as myself, represented at the university.”
Freshmen Keenan Rodriguez and Briana Nespral had positive first impressions of the new president, and mentioned the value of having someone who is Hispanic lead such a diverse school.
“I was shocked that he wasn’t American at first, but it’s fitting that someone that’s not from here gets to suit the atmosphere here at UM… it will be interesting to see how he’ll adapt to the different ways that people interact, and adds to the effect of diversity on campus,” Rodriguez said. “I’m excited to see what he does.”
Nespral looks forward to being a part of a new class with Frenk and seeing how he can use his background to make UM a more diverse school.
“Although first striking, his accent was exciting to hear since UM is so diverse. It proves how important it is to be cultural and know people from all over the world,” she said. “I strongly believe that he will be a great president and am looking forward to my time here with him as a Miami Hurricane.”