The coexistence of the university community, the mental health of students and the role that the University of Chile has played in the constitutional process were some of the aspects that Rector Rosa Devés addressed in her speech. At the ceremony, the National Prizes 2023 and the 28 new academics who reached the rank of Full Professor were distinguished. The activity was attended by the Minister of Education, Nicolás Cataldo, who expressed his portfolio’s commitment to strengthening public education and “for a policy of modernization of its financing”.
“Our responsibility, as educators and members of a community whose mission is the spiritual and material development of the nation, is that the university experience serves as a school for the exercise of citizenship based on dialogue and the search for agreements.” With these words, the Rector of the Universidad de Chile, Rosa Devés, celebrated the 181 years of history of the campus, in what was the Official Anniversary Ceremony.
The event, which took place in the Hall of Honor of the Central House of the U. de Chile, brought together numerous authorities, including the Minister of Education, Nicolás Cataldo, who spoke during the ceremony, academics, civil servants and students. In her speech, Rector Devés stressed the importance of caring for a good university coexistence, safeguarding the mental health of students, continuing to produce frontier knowledge and contributing to the strengthening of democracy in the country.
“To contribute with solutions to the most complex and serious problems”
In her remarks, Rector Devés emphasized that this year “has been a time of transcendent experiences”, highlighting the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the coup d’état and “the emotional, moral and intellectual experience of remembering”, with the consequent first awarding of the “Human Rights and Democracy” Medal to Alicia Lira, president of the Association of Relatives of the Politically Executed, and the incorporation of Casa de Bello in the National Plan for the Search for Truth and Justice, promoted by the Government.
He also mentioned the role that our campus played in the new constitutional process, pointing out that “our work always had among its objectives to contribute, not only to the circumstance that summoned us, but in a deeper sense, to the strengthening of democracy”, and celebrated the enactment of the law that will link the Clinical Hospital of the University of Chile more closely to the public health network, which he described as “a historic event, the result of the work of many people”.
“The aforementioned facts show us that universities occupy a space in the imagination of the Chilean population and its political and social leaderships that is associated with the construction of the common, where the different value and political positions of society find a place to express themselves and where there is a capacity to contribute with solutions to the most complex and serious problems. This confidence in universities is not a generalized issue in the world today, when many must make efforts to validate themselves”, said Rector Devés.
She also emphasized that “our responsibility is to contribute to guide public debate along rational paths, with an exchange based on evidence and shared values, associated with the strengthening of democracy and social justice, and to exercise this role, we must be faithful to these principles within our communities”.
At the same time, the highest university authority highlighted the internal achievements of the Casa de Bello community, such as the inauguration of the “Conciencia Saludable” platform, dedicated to strengthening the promotion and care of mental health, and the complete processing of the new regulations that allow the recognition of the General Bachelor’s degree for all undergraduate programs with three mentions: Sciences, Humanities, and Arts and Social Sciences. She also recognized the work of the staff, highlighting the teleworking pilot plan as a way of modernizing the institution.
Likewise, the Rector pointed out that “we appreciate the value of deliberative democracy in the universities” and for this reason “we hope to receive news soon from the Executive on the modifications to the Statute that are currently awaiting approval by President Gabriel Boric and which allow for two great advances in participation and coexistence. On the one hand, the validation of the student and staff vote in the Faculty Councils and, on the other hand, the creation of a University Ombudsman. Both changes will undoubtedly contribute to a better University”, he said.
Finally, the Rector thanked “our student and alumni athletes who represented Chile so brilliantly in the recent Pan American Games and those who will be in the Parapan American Games. All of you, the tenured professors, the National Prize winners, and our athletes represent the enormous talent that gives life to the University of Chile to create, transform and open new paths for everyone,” he concluded.
Universidad de Chile in the ideology of Chilean men and women
In his speech, the Minister of Education Nicolás Cataldo highlighted the exceptional work of “the academics who over the years, together with the workers of the University, have developed an irreplaceable role in the formation of generations of professionals who contribute to our country”.
He also pointed out that “in the ideology of Chileans, the University of Chile is the public university par excellence, because it is linked to our origin, to the origin of the Republic”. For this reason, he quoted the first rector of the institution, Andrés Bello, who “180 years ago already spoke of an institution that turns its work towards the collective interest, which is the meaning of the idea of the public role of an institution. That country that is in the background, as a framework and horizon of academic training, is ultimately the place where finally ‘all truths touch’. And today, as we live in a post-truth world, this is tremendously important”.
The minister reinforced his portfolio’s commitment to strengthening public education. “Higher education must be able to respond to the challenges that society demands. For this reason we are committed to strengthening public higher education and we will advocate for a policy to modernize its financing”, framed in a broad agreement to strengthen it at all educational levels. In this agreement, he added, “higher education cannot be left out. It must be a fundamental part if we want to strengthen the system with a view to an educational trajectory, but also if we want to undertake the great challenges that our country faces in terms of development”.
The minister also had words of recognition for the students of the University, whom he urged to “preserve social sensitivity, exercise unrestricted respect for others and take advantage of university life, but also the opportunities for professional training”, along with calling them to “face the current challenges with responsibility and joy”.
“On this anniversary, as Ministry of Education, we salute the University of Chile, its history, its present and its communities, and the commitment to the future we want to build together,” closed the minister.
National Prizes and more professors for Casa de Bello
As is tradition, the anniversary ceremony was the moment to recognize the achievements of the 2023 National Prize winners who studied or belonged to the University of Chile community. On this occasion, the Rector’s Medal was awarded to Jaime San Martín, researcher associated with the Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM) and Professor of the Department of Mathematical Engineering of the Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (FCFM), recognized with the prize in Exact Sciences; to Patricia Stambuk, recipient of the National Journalism Prize, and to Cecilia Vicuña, distinguished in the category of Plastic Arts, both graduates of the Casa de Bello.
From a distance, Patricio Guzmán, winner of the National Prize for the Performing and Audiovisual Arts, and Gastón Soublette, recipient of the Humanities award, who also form part of the University of Chile community but were unable to attend the ceremony in person, were also greeted.
The 2023 National Exact Sciences Prize, Jaime San Martín, began his speech by reflecting on the importance of strengthening education in order to advance our development. “Chile wastes a lot of talent of boys and girls who do not have any possibility of realizing or exploiting their abilities and dreams because our education suffers from many deficiencies. One of them, which I believe is central, is the low value we give as a society to our teachers, not only for their salaries, but also for how much we value them”, he said.
In this line, he also raised the need to promote collaboration to address the great challenges of the country. “Our form of investment is mainly based on competition for resources that are scarce, and sometimes I get the feeling that the central objective is competition itself and not a means to meet higher objectives. This is compounded when collaboration is necessary, either because the problem is complex or because it requires sharing critical infrastructure. One of these, and not the only one, is sharing computing capacity.”
On the occasion, a diploma and medal were also awarded to 28 academics who achieved the rank of Full Professor between March 2022 and January 2023, the highest rank that an academic can achieve at the University of Chile. This recognition is given by the Higher Committee for Academic Evaluation and is awarded to those who have dedicated an important part of their lives to the training of professionals, research and the extension of knowledge.
The event was also attended by government authorities, including the Minister of Energy, Diego Pardow; the Minister of the Environment, Maisa Rojas -also recognized as a tenured professor of the campus-; the Undersecretary of Higher Education, Víctor Orellana; the president of the Constitutional Court, Nancy Yáñez; Senator Ximena Rincón; members of the diplomatic corps; and representatives of the Armed Forces and the Armed Forces.
Also present at the meeting were the Vice Chancellor, Alejandra Mizala; the University Comptroller, Magdalena Gandolfo; the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Claudio Pastenes; the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development, Christian González Billaut; the Vice Rector for Economic Affairs and Institutional Management, Sergio Olavarrieta; the Vice Rector for Outreach and Communications, Pilar Barba; the Vice Rector for Student and Community Affairs, Josiane Bonnefoy; members of the University Council and Senate, the Evaluation Council, the Human Rights and Democracy Medal of the U. de Chile, Alicia Lira; union representatives, workers, students and academics of the campus.
The celebrations of the 181st anniversary of the University of Chile will continue with the Anniversary Gala at the University of Chile Theater, where the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by maestro Rodolfo Saglimbeni and the Symphonic Choir of the University of Chile, under the direction of Juan Pablo Villarroel, will perform the Requiem Mass in D minor, K.626 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
You can relive the Official 2023 Anniversary Ceremony below:
By Comunicaciones Universidad de Chile.