UCLA appoints Julio Frenk as first Latino chancellor

Dr. Julio Frenk, president of the University of Miami, has been appointed as the next chancellor of UCLA, making history as the first Latino to lead the university.

Frenk will take over the role in January 2025, succeeding Gene Block, who is stepping down July 31. UCLA Provost Darnell Hunt will serve as interim chancellor until then. 

The University of California Board of Regents met for a special meeting in Westwood Wednesday ahead of the major announcement. Frenk will take over a campus that has been roiled in recent weeks by pro-Palestine protests. Block has come under fire both on campus and from as far away as Washington, D.C., over the university's response to a pro-Palestine encampment and other protests sparked by the Israel-Hamas war that have occurred in the past few months.

RELATED: UCLA braces for possibility of more protests amid imminent appointment of new chancellor

"I consider myself a boundary spanner and a bridge builder," Frenk said. "And I know that the strength of institutions of higher learning -- socially, academically and intellectually -- comes from their diversity and from a willingness to cross boundaries," he said.

" ... I do think that we're at a critical moment in higher education. There has been an erosion of trust in institutions in general, including higher education institutions. The biggest challenge for us is to reaffirm our value to society -- we have to constantly earn that trust. But the opportunity is huge."

RELATED: Pro-Palestinian protesters briefly try to bring back UCLA encampment

Since 2015, Frenk has led the University of Miami, a private institution of more than 17,000 students. He previously served as dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and as Mexico’s national health secretary.

RELATED: 25 arrested after pro-Palestinian protesters return to UCLA

A native of Mexico, Frenk served from 2000 to 2006 as Mexico’s secretary of health, during which he worked to reform the nation’s health system and launched "Seguro Popular," an ambitious program to provide universal comprehensive health insurance. 

Previously, he was the founding director of Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health, one of the leading institutions of health education and research in the developing world.

RELATED: Jewish students sue UCLA over pro-Palestinian encampment

"Dr. Frenk has demonstrated a powerful commitment to the health and well-being of people, institutions and systems around the world," University of California President Michael Drake said. "His leadership will build on the growth and strength the campus has achieved under Chancellor Block and accelerate UCLA’s brilliant trajectory in service to Los Angeles, the nation and the world."

Frenk, 70, will earn a base salary of $978,904.

City News Service contributed to this report.