Institutional • 08 Mar 2022
Rector defends an Iscte with more relevance, autonomy and quality

The Rector of Iscte, Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues, expressed today, at the inauguration ceremony, her three main concerns for the second mandate: autonomy, relevance and quality

About autonomy, the Rector said that the mission of universities is to transmit knowledge. But for this mission to be accomplished, autonomy is necessary and that there is a framework of rules within academic freedom and the freedom to research: "Iscte will not be a full university if it doesn't have the physical space, financial resources, and conditions it deserves. Autonomy cannot be just and only a constitutional design. Universities will undeniably contribute to the modernization of the country."

As for relevance, Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues recalled that it has been her concern to promote the affirmation of Iscte as a university without walls, open and committed to responding to the contemporary challenges of inequality, integration and inclusion of diversity, digital and environmental transition. "The times require not losing sight of the fact that universities are a space for the production of knowledge and unsubmissive, uncompromised, free thinking, possibly useless from the point of view of economic or political interest, immediate or short-term."

A Reitora do Iscte para o quadriénio 2022-2026
A Reitora do Iscte para o quadriénio 2022-2026Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues

Finally, quality. For Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues, it is essential that Iscte aligns its activities, its procedures and its ambition by international standards. "Do well, always do better teaching, research and the dissemination of knowledge." And he ended with a commitment: "In today's turmoil, with the pressure to solve problems quickly, we are witnessing a certain impatience, simplistic views, I would even say ignorant, of what is the specificity of universities as institutions of knowledge production, which either devalue it or pose unadjusted challenges. To this voracity we will not give in."

The 5 priorities

In a ceremony marked, as it was four years ago, the International Women's Day, Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues recalled the five priorities with which she applied to be Rector.

First of all, she reiterated the need to ensure that the Iscte is a financially sustainable institution, having left some criticisms regarding the lack of application of the law for financing higher education institutions.

The second objective is the promotion of interdisciplinarity and internationalization as instruments for improving teaching, research, knowledge dissemination, and service to the

community. This priority will be realized with the completion of the upgrading of the Knowledge and Innovation building, which, "will house all research and doctoral training centers and resources.

The third objective is the improvement of working conditions. "Here the verb is really improve," he said, listing the pressing need that the Iscte has to improve its physical and technological working conditions.

Investing in the construction of residences to improve the conditions of integration and success of students is the fourth objective listed by the Rector of Iscte, assuming that it was "a goal already present four years ago, but that external constraints compromised, but that today is closer to being realized due to the change in those constraints."

The fifth and last objective is the construction of Iscte-Sintra, the fifth school of the University Institute of Lisbon, which aims to respond, "with an innovative offer", to the lack of higher education in this region of the Lisbon Metropolitan Area.

The last words of the dean's speech were to Ukraine. "Despite the peace that reigns in this auditorium, the general feeling is that universal values of democracy, freedom, peace and respect for human dignity are once again at risk. There is a country that is taking the responsibility to resist, as a protective shield of those values, paying the enormous cost of destruction and loss of life of men, women and children all by itself. For our Ukrainian friends, a final word of solidarity. And the affirmation of Iscte's availability, together with CRUP and all the universities, to integrate students, professors and other Ukrainians that come to our country" - said Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues.

The new rectoral team

The day was marked by the moment in which the Iscte community got to know the names that will accompany Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues in the leadership of the Rectory. Professors Bernardo Miranda, Maria das Dores Guerreiro and Jorge Costa reassume the position of vice-rectors. The first two in areas they already knew, built heritage and internationalization, respectively. Jorge Costa takes on the challenge of coordinating the research and technological modernization component.

Maria Fátima Ferreiro, until now director of the School of Social and Human Sciences, now assumes the position of vice-rector with the Teaching and Accreditations portfolio. Sofia Vale, professor of Economics and member of the General Council, takes on the responsibility for Finance. Finally, Maria José Sousa will be the new pro-rector for Distance Learning.

In front of an auditorium full of personalities from the academic, political and scientific world, the ceremony included several moments of reflection on the role of the Iscte in the Portuguese university and society.

The first speech of the solemn session was given by José António Pinto Ribeiro, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. For the head of the Iscte Foundation, higher education institutions need to urgently restore the levels of university autonomy that were reduced in 2011, as well as increase state support in order to strengthen their capacity for action, management and knowledge creation.

For the President of the General Council, Júlio Pedrosa, the Iscte should be proud of the path it has been taking over the last few years. Júlio Pedrosa gave the highest praise to the university management of the last four years, exemplifying with the reinforcement of Iscte's training offer, the bet in the internationalization, the creation of the Sintra School or the answers given during the pandemic. For the president of the General Council, the new mandate represents a moment of singular challenge for Iscte.

The solemn session ended with a lecture given by António M. Feijó, full professor at the University of Lisbon, about the university's autonomy and the challenges it faces.

A nova equipa reitoral, Presidente do Conselho Geral e Presidente do Conselho de Curadores
A nova equipa reitoral, Presidente do Conselho Geral e Presidente do Conselho de CuradoresA nova equipa reitoral, Presidente do Conselho Geral e Presidente do Conselho de Curadores

To see the full speech, click here

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