Let’s Be Frenk: perfect day, necessary books

President Julio Frenk is getting to know the University of Miami through his “100 Days of Listening” tour leading up to his inauguration on Jan. 29. With Frenk’s tenure having started on Sept. 1, students and faculty do not know much about Frenk besides the titles and degrees on his resume.

The Hurricane sat down with Frenk to get to know the Mexican-born doctor and public health expert. In a wide-ranging interview, he discussed his favorite hobbies and foods, described the people he admires and more.

On a bright September morning, sunlight made stripes across Frenk’s serene office on the second floor of the Ashe Administration Building. On one wall were portraits of his mentors, an honorary diploma from the University of Geneva and photos from memorable moments in his life. Pictures of his family lined bookshelves. The president sat at a round table, tablet in hand. Behind him stood a bare wall he said he plans to fill with artistic interpretations of the UM campus throughout the years.

TMH: What would constitute a perfect day for you?

A perfect day would be one where I can balance the three spheres of life: rewarding work, time with family and a little bit of time for oneself, and that includes exercise, maybe some reading. That balance is very hard to achieve, but you need to have a mix of the three.

I would feel at work that I’ve accomplished something that I value, where I have an opportunity to connect with my family, especially my children, and then one where – I always read literature before I go to sleep – where I at least have a small dose of something that is not work, my personal enrichment.


TMH: If you were stranded alone on an island, which three books would you take?

One, I guess, would be a survival guide, since my survival skills are not that good. Just a book for the basic survival aspects of life.

If I wanted to have a book that would keep me company, I would probably have a volume with the collected works of William Shakespeare that would include not only the theatre production, but the poetry.

I have so many books that I love, I only have one more, so the third one would be a recent book that collected all the writings including the aphorisms of my grandmother, who lived to 106 and published her last book when she was 103, and cultivated literary genre that is very common in Central Europe, where she was born, called aphorisms. [They are] short, witty and deep statements about life, and my grandmother had a fantastic production of aphorisms and her daughter, my aunt, recently collected everything that my grandmother published, so I would take that book.

Her name was Mariana Frenk-Westheim.