The ceremony, presided over by Gemma Geis, the Minister of Research and Universities, took place on 28 May, at midday, in the Ciutadella campus auditorium. In attendance were a number of leading academic figures and members of the Catalan government. Following the ceremony, the members of the University’s new governing team signed their appointment.
The inaugural ceremony, which was broadcast live through the UPF website, took place on 28 May at 12:00, in the Ciutadella campus auditorium. 120 people attended the event, the capacity for which was limited in line with security measures. It was presided over by Gemma Geis, Minister of Research and Universities, who was joined on the stage by Jaume Casals, UPF’s outgoing rector and Montserrat Vendrell, president of the University’s Board of Trustees.
In attendance were a number of leading academic figures and outgoing and incoming officials of the Catalan government, including Victòria Alsina, the new Minister for Foreign Action and Transparency; Ramon Tremosa, the outgoing Minister of Business and Knowledge; the rectors Joan Guàrdia (UB), Daniel Crespo (UPC, elect), Quim Salvi (UdG), Josep A. Planell (UOC), Josep M. Garrell (URL), Josep Eladi Baños (UVic-UCC) and Rafael Rodríguez-Ponga (UAO), the former rector of UPF and former president of AQU Catalunya Josep Joan Moreso, alongside other members of the administration, and representatives of various collectives of the university community and Catalonia’s research community.
The ceremony began with a welcome address given by Jaume Casals and the reading of Oriol Amat’s decree of appointment as rector of Pompeu Fabra University by Gemma Geis, the Minister of Research and Universities. Oriol Amat and Gemma Geis then signed the inaugural agreement, which was followed by a series of addresses.
Montserrat Vendrell, the president of the Board of Trustees of UPF was the first to speak. In her address, she offered the new rector, Oriol Amat, the Board of Trustees’ full support in implementing and developing the major projects currently being undertaken by the University, namely, those of Planetary Wellbeing, EDvolució and the Ciutadella del Coneixement.
She also expressed her gratitude to the outgoing rector: "Jaume, it has been an honour and a pleasure to have been able to work alongside you. Thank you for your effort, your vision and your leadership." Finally, she reiterated UPF’s commitment to teaching quality, research, knowledge transfer and social responsibility: "UPF is inherently strategic and the international rankings are testament to this".
Address given by Jaume CasalsJaume Casals then took to the podium. The outgoing rector structured his speech around six key aspects of universities, which he summed up with six titles: organisation, freedom, culture, from outside, style and of the world.
He spoke about organisation in terms of the University’s smooth running: a university, for example, cannot be compared to a parliament, where politics take place, and which has a government and an opposition: "A university is a more sophisticated organisation than a parliament, it requires a personal approach from all members and a high level of collaboration."
As regards freedom, Jaume Casals remarked that despite being a sophisticated institution, a university is simple to describe: "It hires people to research and educate, and it selects students. But that must be done on the basis of freedom, which, in our context, is a nuanced concept."
In reference to culture, the outgoing rector referred to general knowledge, which he believes should be at the heart of a successful university’s activities: "General knowledge forms part of a university’s mission, it is a key element and should never be underestimated. It is a central aspect of all the world’s good universities".
The next concept, "from outside", served to remind the audience that a university should be studied and viewed from outside. "Seeing the University from the Hospital del Mar, from the Zoo or from the BIST, for example, is of more use, it generates clearer ideas. We need to fight against the vice of an internal and mundane approach to university life," he underlined.
The penultimate word, "style", he explained as the idea that a university is not what it possesses; all projects should be shared: "A university is not solely the people it is formed by, but also a way for these people to act." Finally, the last concept was "of the world": "UPF must belong to the world, it must be universal. That is the only way for it to be a Catalan university, and not the other way around."
The rector finished his address reflecting on the disproportionate role played by the figure of the rector in universities. "He’s like a myth," blurring the boundaries between the person and the institution.
Finally, he thanks the whole of the governing team and collaborators who have worked alongside him over the years, reiterating that the door to his home will always be open to them: "What has really been special for me is seeing how fantastic my closest collaborators have been," he asserted, and finished with a reference to Oriol Amat: "From now on, for those of us who feel part of UPF’s trajectory, the world is divided into the things that Oriol wants to do, and the things that others want him to do. I urge us all to help him as much as we can to do the things he wants to do. He knows how to listen, he wants to take the best possible path, and he will be a very well accompanied rector".
Presentation of de rector’s medal to Oriol AmatAfter his address came the ceremony’s most symbolic and emotional moment, with Jaume Casals presenting Oriol Amat with the rector’s medal and the two men embracing. This was met with a long, standing ovation from the audience. Now, as the new rector of Pompeu Fabra University, Oriol Amat took the floor.
Address given by Oriol AmatIn his address, the new rector of UPF began with the situation caused by COVID-19 in the university environment and the prospects for the coming academic year. He structured his address around four main points: the state of the university world today, UPF’s current position, the main goals established (to continue as a leader in research and become a leader in knowledge transfer, learning and in its commitment to Planetary Wellbeing, as well as in humanities and culture) and how these will be achieved.
Oriol Amat’s full speech for his inaugural ceremony as rector of UPF (in Catalan and PDF format.)
"I would like to highlight the enormous effort made by the whole university system to adapt to highly complex conditions and thereby ensure that everything has gone as well as possible, notwithstanding how immensely difficult it has been for us to deal with the health crisis."
"Those of you that know me, know I am an optimist by nature. And so I believe that, in September, we will begin the new academic year under conditions resembling the pre-covid context more closely than our current situation."
"The world of knowledge is changing, and is doing so at a faster pace than universities. Globalisation and the Industry 4.0 revolution are accelerating groundbreaking changes in many aspects, and, among them, in the three major university areas: research, knowledge transfer to society and teaching."
"We should highlight the great milestones UPF has achieved in its thirty years of existence, which are very important and include international recognition."
"But there is room for improvement in aspects related with teaching, knowledge transfer, administrative operations, attracting and ensuring acceptable working conditions for young talent, the relationship with the social and financial fabric and, above all, funding."
"UPF is and must continue to be a university that prides itself on its research excellence. The impetus and development of the Ciutadella del Coneixement project, and, more specifically, the series of actions envisioned for the site of the Old Fish Market, are key in the coming years for defining and managing a landmark ecosystem of research and innovation for southern Europe, with the capacity to attract both national and international institutions."
"We must increase knowledge transfer in order to ensure that knowledge generated in universities has a more positive impact on the welfare of society."
"We must give our students the best possible opportunity to learn and develop as people, as citizens and as professionals, through the provision of quality teaching."
"We must be steadfast in our approach to the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Among the different areas where we need to make considerable progress are gender policies, in order to ensure effective equality."
"These four goals are encapsulated in our drive for excellence in all our key areas of activity in order to accomplish our mission."
"When faced with the prospect of transformation, you either do it quickly, or not at all."
"Science is the best contingency plan for all eventualities."
"We will continue to promote science policy and internationalisation (....) We will implement the new teaching model EDvolució (...) We will strive for multilingualism (...) We will increase our interaction with society (...) Open innovation in organisation and management (...) We will prioritise the balance between technology and human values (...) We will foster a unifying project (...) We will cooperate with the whole of the university system and with the country’s authorities."
Address given by Gemma GeisThe final address was given by Gemma Geis, who, since 26 May, has been at the helm of the newly created Ministry of Research and Universities. Her attendance at this ceremony marked her first act in the post.
"Today is a day of hope and looking to the future, since we have been able to celebrate this inauguration face-to-face," the minister stressed, "following a difficult period in which we are keenly aware of the fatigue and despondency among the university community." The minister thanked the world of science that has produced a vaccine so quickly, using the available knowledge and infrastructures to offer a response to new and unprecedented situations.
Gemma Geis spoke of the ministry’s biggest challenges, namely making scientific knowledge the basis for creating a fairer, more sustainable and prosperous society, based on the deployment of the National Pact for the Knowledge Society, with support from Next Generation funds: "We need better public spending and financial stability for Catalan universities and research, which have new needs. We need more resources, alongside the Catalan Science law."
As regards the creation of the new Ministry of Research and Universities, she emphasised that "it will be a space for dialogue, for building the university system and the country, and for economic and social recovery." Its biggest challenges, besides the development of the Science law and the National Pact for the Knowledge Society, are "strengthening patronage and public-private collaboration, making it possible for teachers to further their careers, improving the grants system and working towards consensus between the university and scientific communities, which will provide a robust position for negotiating and achieving goals."
The performance of the university hymn Gaudeamus Igitur by a quartet formed by Neus Llorens (soprano), Miguel Gómez (countertenor) Eloi Fort (tenor) and Oriol Quintana (baritone) brought the inaugural ceremony to a close.
After the ceremony, the new team of vice-rectors that will work alongside Oriol Amat signed their appointment. The team is structured around eight vice-rector’s offices, that of: the deputy rector; Social Commitment and Sustainability; Internationalisation; Academic Planning; Staff and Community Relations; Research; Knowledge Transfer; and Educational Transformation, Culture and Communication. The creation of the new vice-rector’s office for Knowledge Transfer is of particular significance, as a visible manifestation of the importance and precedence the new rector intends to give this area.
As well as the head of each of the vice-rector’s offices, they are also formed by different commissioner posts, delegates and directors. Together these form the Board of Management , comprising 26 people, besides the rector (as compared with the 35 of the previous mandate), a reduction in members aimed at facilitating cohesion and management action. The Board of Management includes representatives from the different collectives of the university community and all the University’s academic coordination units, and is gender balanced (14 men and 12 women).
Deputy vice-rector’s office
Vice-rector for Internationalisation - Antoni Luna Garcia
Vice-rector’s office for Knowledge Transfer
Vice-rector’s office for Educational Transformation, Culture and Communication
> Image gallery of the inauguration ceremony