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CORAL GABLES, Florida – Julio Frenk, a former health minister in Mexico and a dean who helped quadruple fundraising at Harvard during his recent tenure there, was tapped Monday as the next president of the University of Miami.
The school's board of trustees unanimously approved Frenk's selection. He'll take office Sept. 1, three months after former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala's tenure ends. Shalala, who has been president since 2001, succeeded in raising the profile of a school now consistently ranked among the nation's top 50 colleges and universities.
"President Shalala was one of the most highly respected voices, a leading voice in international health," Frenk, 61, told The Associated Press. "There's no question that she had such a successful tenure here, and that was very attractive in making this a very attractive opportunity for me. I think she's done a great job of improving the university."
Frenk had been the dean of the faculty at Harvard's School of Public Health. He introduced comprehensive universal health care to Mexican citizens during his tenure there and is the author of two books for young people about the workings of the body.
Shalala departs June 1 and will take over as President of the Clinton Foundation. Provost Thomas LeBlanc will serve as Interim President until Frenk's inauguration.
Frenk said his transition into the new role is already underway.
Frenk told the AP there were three major reasons for wanting the Miami job: The school's "upward momentum," as he put it; its geographic location with Miami being a gateway connecting Latin America and the Caribbean to the U.S.; and how it's a new chance for him to put his own stamp on something significant.
Frenk's wife, Dr. Felicia Knaul — an associate Harvard professor, a breast cancer survivor and research and advocacy advocate — will also be joining Miami as a faculty member in the fall.
"I am certain that he will further transform the University of Miami as a leading educational force for the Americas and for the world," said former President of Mexico Vicente Fox.
Frenk's expertise in fundraising was a key point for Miami's search committee. Miami is wrapping up its second Momentum fundraising campaign under Shalala, with a total of about $3 billion raised for the school.
In his six years at Harvard, Frenk quadrupled fundraising and helped land a $350 million naming gift for the School of Public Health — the largest single gift in Harvard's 378-year history.