General Council elects successor to Manuel António Assunção
Paulo Jorge Ferreira elected Rector of the University of Aveiro
Paulo Jorge Ferreira será durante os próximos quatro anos Reitor da UA
Paulo Jorge Ferreira has been elected Rector of the University of Aveiro (UA) in Tuesday’s vote. The successor of Manuel António Assunção obtained 14 votes of a possible 19, corresponding to the number of members of the General Council of the UA, against the 4 votes obtained by the candidate José Fernando Mendes and one blank ballot.

At the end of the General Council vote, Paulo Jorge Ferreira, spoke of his "enthusiasm for the UA project", and "gratitude to a community that believed, and was a source of inspiration and strength", adding that despite the "responsibility, amplified by the difficulty of the task” he maintains a real sense of confidence. "It is not confidence in myself, but in the community. I feel that there are many people prepared to help and I will do everything to live up to expectations", he said.

PhD in Electrical Engineering, professor at the Department of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics of the UA, a Department of which he was director between February 2015 and February 2018 (when he resigned in order to present his application to lead the Academy), the action program of Paulo Jorge Ferreira is based on seven major pillars: valuing the members of the academic community; focus on interdisciplinary solutions; research interconnection and capacity building; deepening the relationship between the UA and the region; bolstering social action; fostering sport; and enhancing the University’s estate.

"It is around people that all the activity of universities revolve, it is in people that knowledge resides and it is to people (students, researchers, teaching staff and technical, administrative and management personnel) that the UA owes its existence and success", explains Paulo Jorge Ferreira in his action program. Thus, "the idea of the UA as a human space, with voice and presence, alive and heard, will guide my performance and is a structuring component of this program."

Teaching, research and support

In the domain of education, the new Rector proposes to create and affirm the UA Interdisciplinary brand through the development of the concept of shared and multidisciplinary course units. These, he explains, "would be common to more than one course and their teachers and students could also originate in more than one education department." Creating mechanisms for companies and organizations to propose themes for work on projects or theses and extending the network for hosting traineeships, at all levels of education, is another of the priorities of Paulo Jorge Ferreira for the area of Education.

In Research, and at the heart of an Interdisciplinary UA, "the intensification of contact among the research units" within the Academy is necessary. According to Paulo Jorge Ferreira's program, "it is crucial that there are hubs for strategic thought that allow research units to share experiences, exchange information and improve practices."

The creation of a Council of Research Centers, which will provide a strategic and functional space for the UA's Research and Development Units and which will afford  students contact with research right from the first cycle of studies, and the creation of a Project Support Service, are some of the missions that Paulo Jorge Ferreira takes to the Rectory.

As for the geographical context of the UA, "a university cannot be a regional one, since knowledge, research and teaching have no borders, in the same way that those who investigate, teach or learn cannot be confined to geographical boundaries." In order to "grow with a region that looks to the world," the successful candidate's program proposes, among other measures, the formation and strengthening of the Council for Cooperation, towards strengthening the UA's link with the economic fabric of the region – including an increase in qualification of human resources and lifelong learning programs - and the emergence of more research projects in connection with companies.

"Given that there is social inequality in Portugal and that the economic crisis aggravated the situation, and also that part of the high drop-out rate from higher education is motivated by economic difficulties," the future Rector underlines his wish to boost the social action of the UA. Among the actions planned, Paulo Jorge Ferreira wants to "adjust the UA's Internal Social Model towards a minimum annual growth of 6 percent in the four-year period of his tenure from 2018-2022, in order to combat the drop-out rate and increase the responsiveness" of Social Action within the Academy of Aveiro.

Moreover, in addition to wanting to "intensify support for students with special needs," the new official wants to make accommodation a strategic priority at UA, "expanding the Crasto housing complex, paying attention to the situation of residences in Águeda, where UA has the Águeda School of Technology and Management, as well as studying and evaluating the housing situation at the Higher School of Design, Management and Production Technologies in Oliveira de Azeméis.

Living the Campus

As for sport, an area that has an impact "on health, well-being, the dynamics of Campus life as well as on the image and attractiveness of the UA", Paulo Jorge Ferreira wants not only to create, within the Social Action Services, a division for the sport and culture but to bring it upon the Rectorate itself to provide institutional leadership in this specific portfolio.

Other measures proposed in the Action Programme include expanding the sports complex adjacent to the Prof. Doctor Aristides Hall sports arena with the construction of an additional wing, towards establishing the UA as a center for the development of adapted sport, while fostering and celebrating protocols with existing Sports Associations and Centers in the district, and studying the possibilities for the construction of fitness circuits on the Santiago and Crasto campuses.

Finally, special attention should be paid to the physical space of the UA: "the use of these spaces should provide students with a rich experience, consisting of curricular and extracurricular activities and leading to intellectual and cultural enhancement and training for citizenship."

In this domain, the measures proposed include creating new opportunities for the UA community to meet and socialize by continuing to remove existing architectural obstacles in the Academy, intervening in Central Square to increase social interaction, granting spaces in the Central Square to the Academic Association and students, thus bringing them to the heart of campus, and bringing the Student Alumni Association to the Central Square.