At SEEDS’ Annual Networking Dinner, UM President Julio Frenk encouraged faculty to “persevere” through federal budget cuts that threaten to reduce research funding
By Robert C. Jones Jr.
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 4, 2017)—Despite President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts that would nullify Obama-era climate change efforts and slash funding to the National Institutes of Health by 18 percent, investigators conducting research on global warming, disease, and other pressing global problems should continue to press forward to show that “scientists do know what they’re talking about,” University of Miami President Julio Frenk said last Tuesday at a gathering of about 200 UM faculty.
“Our job is to persevere, to not give up,” Frenk said at the annual SEEDS (Scientists and Engineers Expanding Diversity and Success) Networking Dinner with the President, held at UM’s Newman Alumni Center.
Now in his second academic year as UM’s sixth president, Frenk warned faculty that in addition to the significant threats global warming poses to our environment and ecosystems, society now faces a new type of climate change, one of “skepticism in the most powerful halls of this country about the value of scientific research, of quantifiable facts, and of accessible education.”
Disregard for the important roles people of different ethnicity, race, and gender play in representing the true spirit of America is also at the heart of the new climate change, making initiatives like SEEDS, formed by outgoing UM Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc to combat stereotypes and achieve greater diversity in University-wide programs, even more important, Frenk said.
SEEDS, Frenk said, represents a major step in UM’s efforts to confront and deal with the challenges faced by women, especially those of color, who are at different stages in their education and careers in STEM disciplines. “Educators have been working for over 20 years to encourage more girls and women to participate in science from childhood on,” he said. “But the insidious effects of gender bias are still with us. So we have to be constantly aware of those effects—and combat the environment in which they take root.”
UM’s Culture of Belonging initiative, a key component of the University’s Roadmap to Our New Century, is another way of changing that environment, Frenk said.
He called SEEDS an important part of the University’s STEM@UM Roadmap Initiative, noting that the new Frost Institutes for Science and Engineering, created with a landmark $100 million gift from longtime UM philanthropists Phillip and Patricia Frost, will include multidisciplinary sister institutes that will advance work in the basic and applied sciences and engineering through problem-based clusters that cross academic units and disciplines. The Frost Institute of Chemistry and Molecular Science will be the first such sister institute.
“This first institute and those that will follow in the years to come will contribute in a major way to make the University of Miami a magnet for talent,” said Frenk. “And, of course, there will be many opportunities to dovetail the diverse and dynamic programs and activities of SEEDS with those of the new Frost institutes.”