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António Fontainhas Fernandes
Rector

 
Inaugural Speech of the Rector of UTAD
 
 
Minister of Education and Science, representing Mr. Prime Minister,
President of the General Council,
Rector that ceased the function, Prof. Carlos Alberto Sequeira,
Dignified Civil, Military and Religious authorities already mentioned,
Messrs. Members of the General Council,
Messrs. Rectors, Vice-Chancellors and Pro-Chancellors of Universities,
Messrs. Presidents of Polytechnics,
Mr. President of the Academic Association of UTAD,
Dear Doctors, Students and Staff,
Distinguished Guests, My dear friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
 
In a time of rare requirement for the Portuguese society, characterized by strong doubts and questions that do not escape to the University, my first words are directed necessarily to the academy. They are words of realistic optimism, and above all, with a strong and sustained confidence.
I want to distinguish the high and wise way, as the academy accepted discuss and build a collective project, which aims to ensure the sustainability of our University. Building a future project requires betting on its main asset: people.
The Future requires boosting confidence, talent, innovation and entrepreneurial attitude of people, so that we can overcome the difficulties that arise in each moment.
It is essential to create, from now, an environment of trust and responsibility, involving academia and everyone who passed by here.
I thank everyone for their presence at the ceremony of taking office of the new Rector’s team, which marks the beginning of a new cycle in the mission statement from the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro.
I want to express a special word to the General Council, represented by its President, Dr. Silva Peneda, for the confidence to have me elected rector. I am sure that the future will be guided by trust and cooperation between the Rectorate and the General Council, bearing in mind the effective range of the University's mission.
 
 
I greet the Rector that now terminates functions, Professor Carlos Sequeira, recognizing the high sense of academic requirement and responsibility, particularly in difficult times. I also greet the team that accompanied him.
I pay tribute to the city of Vila Real, and in it, the inner region of the north and its people, from Douro to Barroso, from Marão to Bragança, who since so early, put the Portuguese hospitality available to the academy.
I pay tribute to the founders of this University, the former teachers, former students, with whom we count on in this new cycle of the institution.
The presence, at this ceremony, of former students of recognized reputation in Portuguese society is a good indicator of the important role they can play in the vitality and sustainability of the institution.
We count on you!
 
 
The current situation of the country is marked by a severe financial, economic and social crisis, another crisis that we can’t remain oblivious.
The journey of Portugal, in the message of Miguel Real, has been marked by cycles, that between expectations and disappointments, between momentary successes and the abyss of its bankruptcy, seeks a way out to continue to exist, always resisting the disenchantment of the story.
This scenario requires universities to reflect on their future, not only in terms of their individual survival, but also on their role in the economic recovery and the reduction of socio-economic imbalances.
Looking for last decades after the accession of Portugal to the European Union there’s that a relevant part of the structural funds that was applied to territorial infrastructures and to production of non-tradable goods. The conversion of traditional activities related to the agricultural sector and the industry has been reduced, which has weakened the competitiveness, national and international, of the production of tradable goods and services.
The 2008 financial crisis and subsequent sovereign debt crises showed that the country has to refocus its attention on the sectors that enable the overcoming of external imbalances by strengthening exports and the import substitution, in a global and open environment market.
 
 
Undoubtedly, the universities are considered a key driver in changing the paradigm of economic and social development of the country. They can contribute decisively to this challenge to be overcome and that the competitiveness’ structural weaknesses of countries and enterprises are exceeded.
 
 
The expectations on the performance of universities in the process of economic, smart and inclusive growth, both from the social and regional standpoint, are huge and require a discerning look.
The challenges of universities are:
the training of young people with skills to face a global market, endowed with entrepreneurial capacities and spirit of citizenship;
the development of research, innovative knowledge with high added value, enhancing technology transfer and economic return of science;
the promotion of culture, for its role in territorial, economic and social cohesion, as anchors of hope that allow to mitigate the current imbalances.
It is with the Universities and with knowledge that economic growth gives way to the most advanced stage of development. It is with the academies that information becomes the wisdom that illustrates a people.
 
 
Minister
Ladies and gentlemen,
In a process of balanced economic and social development of the country, is decisive fail to see the higher education institutions of the arc of the interior, which are located in low density regions, as a problem but as an opportunity to build a Portugal more cohesive, more inclusive and more supportive.
I understand that in the context of public policies, these institutions should to be supported as population fixing and job creation anchors and for its role in the reduction of regional disparities, in a real exercise of public accountability.
I think it is clear the new way to manage the institutions and their relationship with society, to whom we have to convey what we do and why we do it.
However, we must resist the internal temptation, to postpone the resolution of problems, based on the conviction that tomorrow we wake up with everything resolved.
In this complex time, the history of prestige of the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro will not forgive us if we fail to implement the guidelines and commitments in the program of action voted by the General Council.
A first commitment is based on the promotion of teaching and learning quality in an culture of participation optics and responsibility, an agenda that involves the consolidation of a sustainable educational offer and the promotion of education network.
The focus on science, technology and innovation is a second commitment, strong relevance should be attributed to the reorganization of the scientific system, adding critical mass in strategic areas, in order to generate competitive projects that capture national and international funding.
A third commitment focuses on the economic and social development. The current economic crisis has been producing asymmetric impacts, reflected in the economic indicators of the regions, significantly altering the geography of unemployment, a situation that the University should be aware of.
These are the main commitments of the action program, that this Rector’s team will develop in the coming years, in  active and participated cooperation with the governing bodies of the University, schools, research centers, services, involving academia, the region and its actors.
The program of action will be embodied in the medium-term strategic plan, to be submitted to the General Council by the end of November and the consequent, activity plans and annual budgets.
From the General Council, in addition to fulfilling the statutory legal aspects, we expect an independent and especially critical vision of the proposals to be submitted.
The implementation of this program requires a new type of organization and management, based on a culture of collaborative work, networked, of participation and innovation, as a “learning organization". It is a fundamental transformation that we have to do with calm, but with determination and confidence.
This scenario requires enhancing the active participation of the entire academic community, harnessing the power of collective intelligence, facilitating conditions for learning and innovation, key factors for the development and affirmation of the University.
This Rector’s team, whom I thank for the readiness to embrace this noble task of putting UTAD on a new trajectory, is aware of the difficulties of the present situation and of its responsibilities in relation to time and to the challenges of the present and future. We have a huge task ahead, but we won’t be alone.
All will be called! All will have their place! All will have their role!
UTAD is from all, done by all and it is with everyone that we will count on!
I believe that with the commitment, work, determination and willpower of all, we can make progress and strengthen the presence of UTAD in the region and in the country.
I end with the same message of optimism and confidence with which I began this intervention, with the firm belief that after this troubled period, we will have an institution better prepared to compete and win in a global and in constantly changing world.
The history and adaptability demonstrated throughout its existence, let us believe that the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro will be a stronger institution, more interventionist, which may increase their contribution in social, cultural and economic development.
This is our serious commitment to UTAD, the region and the country!
 
 
Thank you.
 
 
Inaugural Speech of the Rector of UTAD
Vila Real, July 29, 2013