President Frenk on maintaining hope

As we prepare to bid farewell to the Class of 2019, it is hard to believe it has been a year since I began communicating with Canes through “Frenkly Speaking.” As I noted in my very first column, April marks an exciting time on campus.

Last year, as we prepared for graduation, I shared some observations on the word “commencement.” I encouraged the Class of 2018 to take its passion into its new beginnings.

This year, in the wake of tragic events around the globe from New Zealand to Sri Lanka, and even as we remember tragedies closer to home— such as those commemorated in the “This is America: Mass Shooting Memorial” on campus this week— I urge you to cling to hope.

One of the benefits of living in a supportive community like the one here at the U is learning first-hand that people from different walks of life can work together toward common goals. Whether you are graduating this year or not, as you look back on your time at the University of Miami, I am willing to bet that you have had at least one experience where you learned from someone who sees the world differently.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to gather with university leaders from around the globe. At the Reinventing Higher Education conference, I participated in a panel on the social impact of universities.

I shared with my colleagues that we at the University of Miami aspire to educate “T-shaped” individuals.

That is, our hope is that when our students go out into the world, they have deep knowledge in one field, coupled with broad understanding of cross-cutting skills. These include four core capabilities.

First, we aim to strengthen your critical thinking. That is, the ability to identify and characterize problems, then devise solutions. Even though you may be more adept at one than the other, this requires both analysis and synthesis, both literacy and numeracy— the ability to understand and express data.

Next, we seek to arm you with ethical reasoning, the ability to understand the moral consequences of your decisions. Third, we expect you to develop the capacity for persuasive communication: written, oral and increasingly visual. Effective communication also requires teamwork, or the ability to empathize, listen and appreciate different perspectives. Lastly, we seek to foster your entrepreneurship. That is, your creativity and the ability to carry out solutions.

If we succeed, we accomplish our mission. We send you out into the world— with its mosaic of tragedy and hope— equipped to make an impact. As we close out this year, I encourage you to take a good look at your T-shape and focus your efforts where you need them, both for depth and for breadth.

I wish you the best of luck on your final exams. Congratulations to the Class of 2019 and their families.

For those of you continuing your studies next year, I look forward to welcoming you back to campus in August. My thanks to all of you for your contributions to the U this year.