Javier Lafuente encourages the community to be "innovative, disruptive and avant-garde"
Chemical Engineering Professor Javier Lafuente was elected new rector of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) in the online elections which took place in October. Today he was sworn in as rector in an event that included speeches by Margarita Arboix, Ramon Tremosa, Gabriel Masfurroll and Carlos Cordón.
It the institutional event to swear in the new rector of the UAB, Javier Lafuente called on the university community to be "innovative, disruptive and avant-garde", and he expressed how proud he felt to become the rector of an institution that has "gone from being a young university to becoming a great university". The ceremony was held on 13 November at the Rectorat building, with very few attendants and all health measures in force, as well as a live streaming of the event.
Rector Lafuente referred to the current situation imposed by this pandemic both on higher education and on society as a whole with a "very personal mention to all those members of our community and their families who have left us" due to COVID-19. With regards to the restrictions affecting universities, he reminded attendants that "the situation in 2021 is full of questions" and denounced that "the current emergency has prevented us from moving onto a new financial model for universities" to go on to vindicate "the need for this new model" to help overcome the current model which, in addition to many other things, "is a highly unfair model for our institution" given the singularity of managing a campus university. Rector Lafuente also declared the pandemic as a situation which "demonstrates the confidece society has in science" and affirmed that "what is now necessary is not only adapting to changes, but also taking the step to leading them" by "working together with society, and not only for society".
The rector announced the main aspects the UAB govering team will be working on in this new period, and assured that his term "finds mandatory" "to rejuvenate and stabalise all staff members". He also highlighted that among his objectives are a comprehensive management of people, a revision of the teaching model and the need for guaranteeing equal opportunities to all students. He also referred to the challenge of internationalising the university, the work going into maning the ECIU University function well in collaboration with eleven other European universities.
"A Large Vessel"
Rector Lafuente began his speech by expressing gratitude for the work done by former Rector Margarita Arboix, who also congratulated the new rector and wished him and the new governing team "all the best". Rector Arboix also thanked the members of her team for "everything you have done to make this huge vessel which is the UAB function so well" and coincided with the new rector in affiming that due to the challenges posed by this global pandemic, "now is the moment to highlight the role of universities in recovering from this situation".
Catalan Minister for Business and Knowledge Ramon Tremosa also acknowledged the fact that society is currently living "very difficult times" which represent "an enormous stress on the country's finances" and, in reference to university funding, he assured that the Government of Catalonia "is working on a multiannual financial plan for universities" to meet the needs of this system in specific. Minister Tremosa declared that "it is very important to not lose the potential of Catalan universities" and addressed the new rector to assure him that "I am at your disposal".
The president of the UAB Social Council, Gabriel Masfurroll, spoke of the COVID-19 pandemic as "our new common enemy" which must be confronted together and emphasised the need to "remain united", which is what society is now asking the universities to do. The mayor of Cerdanyola del Vallès, Carlos Cordón, stated that "we must be capable of reconstructing with a solid and stable economy all that is needed to maintain our top-level higher education system".
This information is related to the following SDG
- Quality education