Recommitting to excellence: Our four unique value propositions

A morning sunrise illuminates the Coral Gables Campus. Photo: TJ Lievonen/University of Miami
By Julio Frenk

A morning sunrise illuminates the Coral Gables Campus. Photo: TJ Lievonen/University of Miami

Recommitting to excellence: Our four unique value propositions

By Julio Frenk
In a column for News@TheU, President Julio Frenk calls on members of the University community to adopt a mindset of excellence to achieve our goals and be a “force for good.”

Today, spring classes begin at the University of Miami. I realize that our temporary pivot to remote instruction and virtual events make the occasion feel somewhat anticlimactic. Yet, I am confident that 2022 will be memorable—for all the right reasons. And I look forward to the way our campuses will buzz once again when we resume in-person teaching two weeks from now.

As we gear up to engage one another in learning, we must not allow challenges to obscure our mission. In celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. yesterday, I started the week by sharing one of his many famous quotes: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

This call to excellence is exactly the mindset we should adopt this year as we transcend inconveniences to achieve our goals. A new calendar year often prompts people to set new goals or adjust old ones.

I have reflected on all that we have faced together and the opportunities that lie ahead, and I have concluded that we must view our time at the U through the lens of four cross-cutting value propositions. This is true for us as an institution and for each of us as individuals. 

The first is the concept of comprehensive excellence and selective preeminence. Comprehensive excellence means that we never settle for mediocrity. Selective preeminence means that we strive to truly master at least one or two areas of achievement. A focus on doing our life’s work well benefits us and inspires those around us.

The second value proposition is intentional relevance. As we carry out our mission, we are thoughtful about how we make a difference in the world. From engaging in life-changing research to volunteering in the community, our experiences at the University of Miami equip us to be difference makers.

The third value proposition is proactive diversity. We do not merely wait for diversity to happen and tolerate it, we actively promote and pursue it—building relationships and fostering belonging for people from every racial and ethnic background, gender and gender identity, religious and political affiliation, and above all for diversity of thought and experience. There will be ample opportunities to engage in this pursuit when we return in person, but I urge us all to start now by opening ourselves up to seeing issues and choices from many different perspectives.

Finally, we engage—as we articulated at the State of the University address earlier this academic year—in multidimensional connectivity. The University is a connector across geographies, generations, disciplines, and the application of knowledge. Each of us can use our voice, our talents, and our ingenuity to connect to one another and to our neighbors across the street and around the world.

The challenges the world faces are many. People are weary. Now is the time for us to step up to our unique calling as we offer hope, deliver answers, and demonstrate each day that when we work together, Miami Hurricanes are an unstoppable force for good.