A Message from President Julio Frenk – School of Education & Human Development

A Message from President Julio Frenk

By President Julio Frenk

Today our city—like many others across the United States—is gripped with outrage at injustice, and with violence. We are summoned in this moment to reinforce our fundamental values, to call upon our resilience, and to be a force for healing the deep societal wounds that the death of George Floyd has torn open once more.

Healing requires more than merely treating symptoms. Yes, we must do everything we can to address all instances of racial discrimination and abuse of power. Yet, we must look more deeply. We must ask the hard questions and be bold enough to take action on the answers we find. We must be willing to look at the root causes of suffering and never make excuses for those who dismiss or defend abuse.

In the wake of COVID-19, I have beckoned us to build a better normal. A better normal cannot exist if the forces that tear us apart go unchecked. In fact, the coronavirus pandemic has brought to light the structural inequalities that result in worse outcomes for people of color with respect both to health and to economic hardship. At the same time, we have witnessed enormous expressions of solidarity, service, and sacrifice—particularly on the part of frontline workers—with people from all walks of life doing whatever is necessary to take care of each other.

As incensed as we all are at the appalling acts that have led to protests here in Miami and elsewhere, and as profoundly wounded as we must acknowledge communities of color feel at yet another Black life lost, I believe we at the U can take those emotions and turn them into a catalyst for change. That is what we do. We are more than just resilient. We are fierce. We are innovative. We are compassionate. And we strive to be exemplary.

We can, and we will, do what we do best. We will bring people of vastly different backgrounds together. We will listen to new ideas and let the pursuit of truth through scholarship and science enlighten the path towards purposeful action. We will analyze what leads to crises and protests, and relentlessly act to address their causes.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to the way we live and interact, one of which is more time with our families. On this Sunday, I encourage you to use that time to do more than watch the struggles that continue to grip our world. Consider the actions you can take—as an individual, as a member of our community, and as an ally to those who continue to be mistreated.

One of our responsibilities as an institution of higher education is to shape the world in which we live. That is our duty collectively and individually. Our mission compels us to be active on all fronts to defeat ignorance, hatred, and oppression. We research solutions to social injustice from every disciplinary perspective. We deliberately provide access to education to those traditionally underrepresented in universities. We engage in service, expanding outreach to every part of our community, particularly on the health care front.

As a university, we have a platform, and we are committed to using it. Our call for the reforms necessary to right systemic wrongs must be unequivocal.

In the coming weeks, we will host a virtual community conversation to outline the next steps we must take. Lives lost deserve it. Our values require it. Let us renew our commitment to living a culture of belonging—one that promotes diversity, inclusion, and equity as the pillars to assure that all persons enjoy the same opportunity to develop their full capabilities.  

It is a sad paradox that at a time when we have seen some of the best of humankind in response to the pandemic, we continue to witness injustice. To those feeling hopeless, horrified, and hurt: we stand with you. As distraught as we all might be, I know that the U will never tire of doing our part in the never-ending quest for a better world.

We are one U,

President Julio Frenk