As we approach the midpoint of our fall semester, I want to express my gratitude for all you have done to help us arrive at this moment.
A Message from President Julio Frenk

September 30, 2020

A video message from President Frenk
Below, for your reference, is the full text of President Julio Frenk’s video message (above) to the University of Miami community.

As we approach the midpoint of our fall semester—or “half time” in the parlance of football season—I want to begin by expressing my gratitude for all you have done to help us arrive at this moment. My thanks go out to students, faculty, staff, and all members of the UM community: all of you working as one to keep each of us safe and healthy.

Fall 2020 has been a historic semester that has tested our resilience and offered opportunities to get creative in how we honor long-held traditions. Our Hurricanes’ win over Florida State this past weekend—where we scored the most points ever in the 65-meeting history of our football rivalry—is a memorable highlight.

Our student-athletes have modeled how daily sacrifices will lead to long-term rewards, and we can also take an important lesson from Saturday night’s game: dominate early and never let up.

With cold and flu season approaching, the coronavirus is as dangerous as ever. But we have also learned a great deal about how to protect ourselves and one another, and that’s important to note.

You should be proud of what you have achieved since we returned to campus for in-person education. Together, we are slowing the spread. Contact tracing tells us that there has been no transmission of the virus in classrooms thus far. In fact, after a peak of 42 cases following the Labor Day holiday, even with expanded testing, new daily cases are now in the single digits. In the past week, we have even experienced two days with zero cases.

You have demonstrated—and continue to demonstrate—a commitment to the health and safety of our community, and I want to thank you for that. While news reports indicate that in some communities across the country college campuses have been a source of growing infections among young people, we have managed not to drive contagion here in Miami-Dade County.

However, this week we have seen an ease in restrictions at both the state and local levels. As I said over the summer, our strategy against COVID-19 must be adaptive, because there are certain factors that are beyond our control, including government action.

Experts anticipate that a relaxation of public health measures coupled with seasonality of respiratory illness will lead to a spike in cases in the coming weeks. We must be ready. Your discipline is making campus a safe place to be—and we want to keep it that way. Therefore, after considering the risks, we have made several decisions in recent days.

First, we are staying the course with respect to student attendance at home football games and our 11 p.m. curfew. These measures are working well, and we appreciate how students have engaged responsibly in activities offered on campus.

Second, we have announced our plans for the spring semester, with classes set to begin on January 25, one week later than initially scheduled. In lieu of spring break, which would significantly heighten the risk of exposure to COVID-19, the semester will feature two Wellness Wednesdays to give students a break from instruction.

Just as our ’Canes did not back down after scoring a record-setting 38 points in the first half on Saturday night, we must hold fast to the practices that are proving effective—including use of face coverings, physical distancing, our daily symptom checker, expanded testing, and vaccination against influenza. Starting October 2, flu shots will be available for students in the Pavia Garage.

I know it hasn’t been easy, and I can’t promise that it will become any easier anytime soon. But together we have come a long way, and I’m confident that we can continue to have a successful year, as long as we remain vigilant.

History is filled with examples of times of crisis requiring a critical look at priorities and a willingness to keep the eye on the prize. The University of Miami has long prided itself on our ties to the community, and on our innovation and resilience. We have managed—through creativity, vigilance, and community response—to stay open and safe. It is not an exaggeration to say that the pressure is on and will remain on for some time. The prize for us is to continue delivering value-added education, problem-solving research, and life-saving health care. Let us redouble our efforts to ensure that we do not put at risk the meaningful gains we have made so far during the pandemic. Reimagining how we engage during this time—to protect ourselves and those around us—must remain our shared priority.

Times of crisis also reshape us and remind us of the importance of gratitude. Every day we are open is a gift. On the eve of Giving Day, as ’Canes across the country and around the world consider how they will be part of #OneDayOneU, I am grateful for the way each and every one of us is doing our part.

We are One U.
President Frenk signature
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