Julio Frenk, UCLA's new chancellor
Julio Frenk, UCLA's new chancellor Photo courtesy of UCLA

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) made history on Wednesday as it named its first ever Latino chancellor, Mexican Julio Frenk, a former Health Secretary of the country and current president of the University of Miami.

The university's Board of Regents unanimously approved the appointment of the 70-year-old academic to lead the educational institution, considered one of the main research centers in the country. He will take office in January 2025

A doctor by profession, Frenk has extensive experience in public health and has led significant fundraising efforts for the University of Miami and the Harvard School of Public Health. He also served as Mexico's Health Secretary from 2002 to 2006.

Frenk will become the university's seventh ever chancellor, replacing Gene Block, who will step down after 17 years at the helm of UCLA. In a statement, the new chancellor said:

"At this crucial moment for higher education, returning to the public sector to lead one of the best research universities in the world, including one of the 10 largest academic health systems, is an exciting opportunity and a great honor for me."

Frenk's appointment comes at a delicate moment for the institution. A few months ago, UCLA came under intense scrutiny for its response to pro-Palestinian protests, which hit a flashpoint after a group of counter-demonstrators violently clashed with pro-Palestinian protestors on April 30.

Though Frenk has not addressed the protests or UCLA's response after his appointment was announced, he noted that it was a "crucial moment" for higher education:

"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. At this moment, campus communities across the country are facing complex questions related to protecting student well-being, stopping all forms of discrimination, and upholding free expression of rights."

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