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University of Miami President Julio Frenk announced as UCLA’s new chancellor

Julio Frenk is pictured. The UC Board of Regents appointed Frenk as UCLA’s next permanent chancellor during its Wednesday meeting. (Zimo Li/Photo editor)

By Shiv Patel and Dylan Winward

June 12, 2024 9:57 a.m.

This post was updated June 12 at 1:55 p.m.

University of Miami President Julio Frenk was announced as UCLA’s next permanent chancellor by the UC Board of Regents Wednesday morning.

Frenk will succeed outgoing Chancellor Gene Block, who announced his plan last August to retire at the end of this academic year after serving in the role since 2007. He will be the university’s first Latino chancellor.

The board also appointed Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Darnell Hunt to serve as chancellor in an interim capacity from Aug. 1 to Jan. 1, when Frenk will officially begin his term as chancellor. 

UC President Michael Drake said at the meeting that Hunt’s commitment to diversity and involvement in the development of the most recent strategic plan made him a natural fit for the role. He added that Hunt, who has been with the university for 22 years, will be the first person of color to work as chancellor. 

Block had previously announced that he will continue to serve as a faculty member and research sleep cycles after stepping down next month. Drake said during the meeting that he appreciates the work Block has done to build community partnerships and grow research at the university, with Block receiving a standing ovation from the regents.

Block has faced scrutiny for the UCLA administration’s response to the pro-Palestine demonstrations on campus amid the Israel-Hamas war.

[Related: Votes to censure, express no confidence in Gene Block fail in UCLA Academic Senate]

Although Frenk did not address the Israel-Hamas war explicitly in his remarks to the board, he said the university has to set an example of positive behavior. He added that he plans to listen to a diverse range of stakeholders and hopes to bridge academic and ideological boundaries.

“We must clearly and passionately articulate the many societal benefits that come from UCLA and its peer universities because there has been an erosion of trust in higher education,” he said.

The appointment of Frenk as chancellor comes after a search process that began in November. A 17-member search committee – which included Graduate Student Association President Noor Nakhaei and now-former Undergraduate Students Association Council President Naomi Hammonds, as well as several UC regents and UCLA faculty members – interviewed potential candidates and provided input throughout the process.

The regents’ vote to appoint Frenk as chancellor followed vetting by UC President Michael Drake’s office. Drake, who recommended the appointment, said during the meeting that he believes Frenk checks all the boxes the university was looking for in a chancellor.

“We wanted a leader who has shown they value diversity and inclusiveness in academic communities,” he said. “Above all, we were looking for someone who understands what makes UCLA the unparalleled place that it is and can grow its impact across the globe.”

Frenk will earn a salary of $978,904 when he arrives on campus, according to an emailed statement. Block currently earns $699,516 annually, the same rate Hunt will be paid at during his time as interim chancellor.

Board of Regents Chair Richard Leib added that he was excited to welcome Frenk to campus and to the university.

“Dr. Frenk brings a wealth of experience to this position,” he said during the meeting. “Not only are we excited about you (Frenk) being here at UCLA, but the entire city of Los Angeles will be welcoming you with open arms.”

Frenk, a physician and sociologist, has been the president of the University of Miami – a private university with 17,000 students – since 2015. While at the university, he faced controversy for firing the dean of the university’s law school without properly consulting faculty

Frenk also said he was excited to work for a public university, after having previously worked in public service.

[Related: Chancellor-designate Julio Frenk answers media questions after his appointment]

Frenk, who was also dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Mexico’s Secretary of Health from 2000 to 2006, said at the meeting that one of UCLA’s strengths is the advanced health care and research that the university conducts. Frenk also received multiple graduate degrees from the University of Michigan and received a medical doctorate from the National University of Mexico.

Another strength of the university is its sporting legacy, Frenk said. UCLA Athletic Director Martin Jarmond said in an emailed statement that he is excited to work with Frenk after seeing his work to support athletics at the University of Miami. 

Frenk, his wife Felicia Knaul and his two daughters will move to Los Angeles later this year. (Courtesy of UCLA Strategic Communications)

Frenk is originally from Mexico City and was the son of a family who left Germany to escape antisemitism in the 1930s. He is married to Felicia Knaul – the director of the Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas at the University of Miami – and has two children.

Frenk has also published 29 books, 196 academic papers and 182 articles in cultural magazines, according to a press release from UCLA Media Relations. Drake said during the meeting that Frenk’s record as a researcher and academic administrator will lend itself well to becoming chancellor.

“For many people around the world, UCLA is known as a dream school and this is truly a dream job for me,” Frenk said during the meeting.

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Shiv Patel | Campus politics editor
Patel is the 2024-2025 campus politics editor and a Photo contributor. He was previously a News contributor on the campus politics beat. Patel is a second-year mathematics and economics student from Gilberts, Illinois.
Patel is the 2024-2025 campus politics editor and a Photo contributor. He was previously a News contributor on the campus politics beat. Patel is a second-year mathematics and economics student from Gilberts, Illinois.
Dylan Winward | News editor
Winward is the 2024-2025 News editor and an Arts, Copy, Photo, PRIME and Sports contributor. He was previously the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. Winward is a third-year English and statistics student from London in the United Kingdom.
Winward is the 2024-2025 News editor and an Arts, Copy, Photo, PRIME and Sports contributor. He was previously the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. Winward is a third-year English and statistics student from London in the United Kingdom.
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