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António Fontainhas Fernandes

Inaugural Speech of the Rector of UTAD
Mr. Chairman of the General Council, Dr Silva Peneda
In your person, we thank you for the confidence in having elected me as Rector for the next four years. I believe that the Future will be guided by a relationship of trust between the General Council and the various governance structures, crucial to achieving the objectives we set ourselves.
I greet the Mayor of Vila Real, estimated Eng. Rui Santos.
I take this opportunity to acknowledge the joint work, an example of a link between the University and the municipality, which generates synergies that are fundamental to meeting the challenges of the territory.
I greet the rectors of the Portuguese Universities and their representatives. I particularly greet the Universities of the consortium, the rectors of Minho and Porto.
I greet the presence of the Polytechnic Institutes, with whom UTAD has maintained a privileged connection, which will certainly be reinforced.
A word of appreciation for the presence in this session of such distinguished civil, military, and religious authorities.
In the person of the presidents of the Academic Association and the Association of former students of UTAD, I greet all current and former students.
A friendly word to the whole academy: teachers, researchers, Honoris Causa doctors, staff and students.
I take this opportunity to thank all those who finish their functions, the rectoral team, the schools and the entire support structure of the rectory: their availability and determination in the exercise of their duties.
Distinguished Guests,
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank you all for attending a ceremony marking the beginning of a new cycle of the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro.
I would like to begin by acknowledging the significant presence of some alumni, the alumni brand, with a recognized reputation in Portuguese society, an indicator of the important role they will play in the near future of the institution.
We count on you, in this new cycle!
In the inauguration of the first mandate, in 2013, I was inspired by the message of Miguel Real for the new stage of UTAD:
At the time I mentioned that the course of the University, was marked by expectations, which between momentary successes and the abyss of its bankruptcy, seek an exit to continue to exist, always resisting the disenchantment of history.
After four years, the complexity of the universities environment remains, marked by the reduction of funding, the imbalance of the public higher education network, the growing competition in the recruitment of students and funding for science, aggravated by demographic variables whose impact will be accentuated in the near future.
Undoubtedly, these challenges and the centrality of knowledge in the development of modern society require coherent responses from universities in terms of teaching, research and the value of knowledge.
The expectations, and the challenges, of the performance of universities, as central elements of sustained, intelligent and inclusive economic growth, are enormous and require an integrative vision:
In the current context and dynamics, the University's strategy is by:
• Consolidating scenarios of openness to society and innovation, access and sharing of information, and participation in international knowledge networks;
• The interaction of the scientific system with the organizations and the economy of the territory, allowing to affirm the commitment with the valorisation of the territory;
• The dynamics of internationalization, in all the activity of the University;
• The training of young people with skills, entrepreneurs and endowed with a spirit of citizenship.
It was in the context of these strategic objectives that the General Council voted for the Program of Action of our candidacy for Rector, which defends a more COHESIVE, more CONNECTED, more COMPETITIVE and more COLLABORATIVE University.
This vision reflects UTAD's ambition to renew itself, to become empowered and to position as an inspiring place for learning, knowledge and culture.
The Future will not forgive us if we do not implement the guidelines and commitments made in the program of action.
A first commitment is based on the exertion to the education and life of student’s quality. The students should be the epicentre of the University, involving teaching oriented to competences which are favourable to technological changes and innovation, to creative capacity, to the affirmation of autonomy guided by high ethical values.
The focus on global research is a second commitment, contributing to the development of new ideas and products, new services and processes, generating economic and social benefits.
A third commitment is focused on the valorisation of knowledge and global-scale research must have an impact on the territory.
This purpose calls for collaborative networks between research units and the business world to increase and diversify competitive funding.
Another commitment is to strengthen the University in regional development, ensuring greater interaction with the economic and social fabric, in articulation with the strategy of intelligent specialization.
Compliance with the program of action requires a clear strategic positioning in order to explore alternatives for action and funding to ensure its renewal and adaptation to the new surrounding co-ordinates.
The program proposes changes in organization and management, greater flexibility in organizational structure, to respond to the challenges of a changing society.
These commitments and the implementation processes will be embodied in the Strategic Plan for the next four years, which will be presented to the General Council, during the current academic year.
However, the implementation of the Strategic Plan must be coherent with the resources, structure and culture of the University, responding to the just desires of those who work here, with endeavour and dedication.
We know that the University has a large number of scientific areas, courses and even research areas, in certain cases with problems of scale and search for training. With everyone's cooperation, we must have the imagination to turn weaknesses into strengths, threats into opportunities.
The rector's application program expresses a multidisciplinary and systemic approach to problems and the consolidation of the University-Organizations ecosystem, the best way to solve the challenges of the future.
At the level of the internal organization, it is crucial the implementation of the statutes, revised in 2016, aiming a capable management of responding to external requests and effective in the internal relationship. In this context, the new organizational chart should be broadly discussed with the intermediate governance structures, the schools and the research centres.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen
What we intend to do will only be achieved if we have human resources engaged and involved at all levels and functions.
Due to known budget constraints, in the last four years, the Portuguese University has not been able to value or rejuvenate its main asset: human resources.
We are today, too, an aging and undervalued university, which calls for a different future in an intelligent perspective of sustainability.
Always maintaining the budget balance and counting on the public policies, it is our obligation, to ambition in the next four years, a University with human resources more qualified and valued, but simultaneously younger and attractive.
I will finish inspiring myself in the voice of the poet: "The University, like the world, ends not in the limit of vision, but in our capacity to imagine it, to project it and to dream it”.
These are the main commitments that this Rectoral Team and Schools will develop in the coming years, in cooperation with the governing bodies of the University, involving academia, the region, and its actors.
We are aware of the enormous responsibility, but we will not be alone.
All will be called to contribute to this purpose! Everyone will have their place and their role in a stronger and more inclusive UTAD!
UTAD is everyone’s, made by the whole academia and by all those who have passed through it!
We count on you!
This is our commitment to the Future!
Thank you so much