There is a shortage of 8-year-old rectors at UNAM; build stability
Marked by the student strike that closed the UNAM for ten months at the end of the last century, the Governing Board has chosen to elect rectors who can stay for two four-year periods, since from 2000 to 2023 there have only been three born leaders: Juan Ramón de la Fuente, José Narro Robles and Enrique Graue, all doctors.
Among the ten finalists for the rectory, six are old enough to head it for eight years: Laura Acosta, Sergio Alcocer, Germán Fajardo, William Lee, Leonardo Lomelí and Imanol Ordorika. The remaining four are old enough for only one period: Luis Álvarez Icaza, Raúl Contreras, Patricia Dávila and Guadalupe Valencia.
The first term of the next rector of the UNAM will begin next November and will end in November 2027, just when the next head of the Executive will be halfway through his term and society will have the constitutional right to mobilize to request a revocation of mandate.
Of the 33 men who have held the rectorship of UNAM since 1910, only five have achieved re-election, mainly from the so-called period of stability in the succession process of the rector, with the creation of the Governing Board in 1945: Luis Garrido Díaz was re-elected, but he only served eight more months, so his rectorship was four years and eight months; Nabor Carrillo Flores was the first rector to hold the position for eight years, achieving re-election and two full terms.
Ignacio Chávez also achieved re-election, but a student conflict led him to resign, so his period at the head of the UNAM was five years and two months: one full period and 14 months of the second.
The second rector to remain eight consecutive years was Guillermo Soberón and the third was José Sarukhán Kermez. Later, Juan Ramón de la Fuente achieved re-election and completed two terms, as did José Narro Robles and Enrique Graue.
The stability of the UNAM that was built little by little since the Governing Board is the only elector of the rectors and that had prevailed since the rectorship of Guillermo Soberón, after the historic strike of the Workers' Union, which forced the resignation of the rector Pablo González Casanova, was broken in 1999, when the General Strike Council stopped the activities of the University for ten months and led to the resignation of the rector Francisco Barnés.
With the UNAM taken over, the Governing Board had to meet in the old Mining Palace, where the university students came to propose the candidates for rectorship. When the Board elected Juan Ramón de la Fuente, it issued a statement in which it expressed the position that has prevailed since November 1999: the urgency of seeking institutional stability among all members of the community, around a born leader who will urge unity.
The university, the Board said then, is “in a critical circumstance.” The university wonders about its future. Answering this question, commenting on the answer, discarding what must be overcome and building what must be built, is not the task of a single man; It is the work, duty and commitment of all university students. For this reason, the Governing Board calls on the university community to join this great collective work.”
At the end of De la Fuente's two terms, the Board elected Narro and explained to the community that "it took into account the general situation of the country, higher education and the National Autonomous University of Mexico."
She highlighted that in 2007, the commitment to “sustain the national, autonomous, public, free and secular character, as well as its principles of academic and research freedom and its determined social commitment” was important to her.
Later, at the end of Narro's eight years, and in the midst of threats from radical university students against one of the applicants, the Board explained that it chose Enrique Graue, because it considered “the quality and institutional viability of the project; the need to balance stability and future institutional changes; the urgent demand to innovate in teaching processes and promote the training of new interdisciplinary degrees; "promoting the link between research and teaching, as well as between University and society."
The succession in the UNAM rectorship in 2023 takes place in a context in which the federal authorities have limited resources to public universities, both in budgetary matters and in support for the development of their work; Recently, postgraduate programs were limited and there was a consequent decrease in scholarships for those pursuing studies beyond a bachelor's degree.
In addition, scholarships for low-income university students were canceled, which generated a student protest, but UNAM's decision to deliver those scholarships itself, which the federal government annulled, contained the revolt.
Likewise, from the Chamber of Deputies, last March, the Morenoist Armando Contreras Castillo planned to present a proposal to reform the Organic Law of the UNAM to eliminate the Board and open the process of electing the rector to direct votes from the community. . The initiative was never published in the Parliamentary Gazette and no legislative process was opened to make it a reality.
Although there are voices that have requested that the community be the one to directly elect the rector, UNAM's own history shows that this has only generated institutional instability.
From September 22, 1910, when it achieved its status as a National University, until June 1929, when it gained its autonomy, the rector was appointed by the President of the Republic and in just those 19 years there were nine changes in the rectory, which It was occupied by ten academics, nine of them formally and one as interim. Ezequiel A. Chávez was rector twice in different periods: in 1914 and 1924, so there are 11 rectorates, headed by ten academics.
From July 11, 1929 to August 18, 1944, the rector was elected by the University Council from a shortlist proposed by the President. In those 13 years, UNAM had seven rectors; The one who lasted the longest was Ignacio García Téllez, with three years and two months, in addition to four academics who took over as office managers while the new rector was elected.
And since 1945 when the Board began to exist and this 2023, UNAM has had 16 rectors, who have headed 26 rectorates, given that five were there for more than one period; That is, in 78 years it has had 16 rectors, while in 35 years it had 17 rectors.
They will begin recording spots on TV UNAM
Today the catwalk of the 10 candidates for the Rectorate will begin in the internal media of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
As Excelsior announced last Friday, the candidates will begin their participation on TV UNAM and Radio UNAM in alphabetical order.
In order to present their work plans, Laura Acosta and Sergio Alcocer will open the capsules of up to 12 minutes that will be broadcast on TV UNAM today at 8:00, 2:30, 6:30 and 10:00 p.m.
On Radio UNAM, Laura Acosta will begin the round of interviews that will be conducted with the candidates on the morning news program, Primer Movimiento.
The interviews will last 20 minutes, plus five free minutes that will be given to applicants to freely present their projects, and will be broadcast over the next two weeks.
To disseminate their projects in Gaceta UNAM, they may present a summary of their work plan, no longer than six thousand characters, as a supplement will be published with the 10 documents.
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