President Frenk ushers plan for UM to achieve new goals in the next century

President Julio Frenk speaks on the importance of integrity at the State of the U address on Thursday, Sept. 15 at the Shalala Student Center.
President Julio Frenk speaks on the importance integrity at the State of the U address on Thursday, Sept. 15 at the Shalala Student Center. Photo credit: Alexandra Carnochan

Frenk focused his address on the future of the university. He stressed how imminent the centennial anniversary of UM is and what needs to be done by 2025.

“We are 935 days away from the University of Miami’s 100th birthday,” Frenk said. “ We at the U are determined to finish our first century well, and to set a course for even greater achievements in our second century.”

With construction beginning on the honorary Centennial Village housing project, UM is gearing up for its 100 birthday.

Prior to Frenk’s address, undergraduate student body president Jamie Williams-Smith gave her remarks about what she believes the importance of the State of the U is and the need for an administration and student government collaborative effort. She was the only member of the student government to speak.

“Across UM, students are diving back into classes and engaging in various organizations,” Williams-Smith said. “The partnership between student government and the university’s leaders is essential.”

Student Government President Jamie Williams-Smith opens the floor for President Frenk at the State of the University address on Sept. 15 at Shalala Student Center.
Student Government President Jamie Williams-Smith opens the floor for President Frenk at the State of the University address on Sept. 15 at Shalala Student Center. Photo credit: Alexandra Carnochan

Williams-Smith also highlighted what undergraduate and graduate students have been doing across the Coral Gables, Medical and RASMAES campuses from research endeavors to technological advancements.

“In the new experience, research and design lab, students have spearheaded the creation of interactive situation-based game that allows for users to engage in complex conversations about race,” Williams-Smith said. “On the medical campus, students have come together to create a potentially life-saving technology that helps identify blood clots.”

As Frenk took the stage he focused on one of his biggest new initiatives, the addition of Chief Executive Officer at UM. This position, filled by previous UHealth CEO Joe Echevarria, was announced to the university on April 14, 2022 after a quiet hiring process between Frenk and the Board of Trustees. The CEO position does not exist at any other comprehensive research university, making Echevarria the first CEO of this kind in the country.

This addition to UM’s upper faculty received criticism for not being clear on the intent and purpose Echevarria would serve other than dividing up the management workload and focusing on “execution” per a public statement released by Julio Frenk on April 12, 2022.

“The term CEO is not typically used in higher education. Some consider it taboo, bemoaning what they see as a corporatization of universities,” Frenk said. “Yet, if the charge of a position is to lead execution across the organization, then whatever critics may opine, the intellectually honest title is CEO.”

He then transitioned his speech to emphasize the four main pillars of his ‘Roadmap to Our New Century.’ These pillars include education, research, health care, innovation, and intercollegiate athletics.

“While the four pillars are distinct, they are interconnected aspects of who we are,” Frenk said. “Success in one supports, enhances, and helps drive success in others.”

Each pillar was explained through a video featuring the likes of head football coach Mario Cristobal and Coral Gables mayor Vince Lago who spoke about the importance of athletics not only for students on campus, but the greater Miami community.

“This year, we have renewed our commitment to prominence in intercollegiate athletics,” Frenk said. “Determination precedes success, and as Coach Cristobal encouraged us last spring, ‘’Canes gotta get to work!’”

Frenk closed his remarks by discussing how the pillars in the roadmap are intertwined. He also ensured that the state of UM is strong and will thrive for the next 100 years.

“In what we have dubbed Roadmap 2.0, how we carry out our mission underscores all of our pillars,” Frenk said. “I am confident in our ability to finish our first century strong and to set the stage for even greater accomplishments in our next century.”