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Words on the occasion of the granting of emeritus status to Leticia Mendoza and Raymundo Jiménez

In a country and in a culture of low institutional development and, in what touches us more particularly, of weak academic traditions, perhaps for many the status of emeritus has been noticed only by the event of an emeritus Pope, when Benedict XVI resigned to the papacy in 2013 or for granting that status to Juan Carlos I of Spain when he abdicated in favor of his son in 2014.

From the Latin ex, "by", and meritus, "merit"; “By merit” or “due to merit”, the granting of emeritus status is an academic tradition, inherited from historically preceding institutions, which is conferred upon retirement to those who have served superlatively to the university that grants them that status.

Bertolt Brecht, the exalted German playwright and poet, is already a well-known quote that «There are men who fight one day and are good. There are others that fight for a year and are better. Some fight for many years and are very good. But there are those who fight all their lives: those are the essential ones ». Emeritus status is conferred not by fleeting and momentary success, but by circumscribed and episodic performance. It is a recognition of an entire career and corresponds to those who, due to the depth of the constancy of their dedication and the relevance and permanence of their legacies, became so essential to us that it was difficult for us to accept their well-deserved retirement.

Here comes to me, then, this verse of the INTEC Anthem:

"Work is effort and it is the perseverance of the bee, we learn its tenacity and nuances fixed on its wings open furrows of life, faith and love".

This solemn afternoon we recognize Carmen Leticia Mendoza Gómez and José Raymundo Apolinar Jiménez Hernández for their merits resulting from a long career, who gave us so much for so long that we considered them essential. For a fruitful career in merits, the honorable Academic Council, by ratifying the nomination of the Academic Committee of the Basic and Environmental Sciences Area, in the case of Doña Leticia, and that of the Health Sciences Area, in the case of Don Raymundo, joyfully confers on them the status of emeritus.

I could say that, since it was so difficult for us to resign ourselves to no longer having them in the intense daily life of Intec, we made up for it in this way after his retirement to, as Rector Rolando Guzmán said when the same thing was done with Rector Miguel Escala, publicly recognize the importance of emotional bond of the university with you, fellow citizens of yesterday, today and always. 

Thus, the characteristic institutionality of INTEC has been followed, the most delicate and appreciated flower in its university garden, in which high recognition is not granted at the whim of a Rector or an official or, in any case, of an individual, in a unipersonal way, but following the rules that confer this attribution to the collegiate academic instances that go, in this case, from their peers in what were their Academic Areas, to the main instance of academic management of the Institute. And having followed this institutional route allows me to tell you, Doña Leticia and Don Raymundo, that it is the entire hive that today closes ranks in this more than just, unavoidable recognition.

How appropriate that we do this within the framework of the celebration of the first fiftieth anniversary of INTEC, because as the motto we chose for it says, you forged a legacy that inspires and moves us to the future!

Her colleagues and relatives predominate here, in this space, and perhaps we do not have such a broad representation of who her students were. I want to tell you, however, that I echo the sentiments of several of his former students, if not many, who upon hearing the news let me know his reaction. I confess that these reactions have made me remember the expression attributed to Alexander the Great when referring to his teacher, nothing more and nothing less than Aristotle. The Macedonian conqueror declared: "I am indebted to my father for living, but to my master for living well."

Allow me now to fulfill the obligation to take advantage of the opportunity to share a couple of reflections with the academic and institutional community.

For the first one, I want to rely on our Rector Eduardo Latorre. Overcoming the dominant unwritten tendency that surrounds us, the founders bequeathed us valuable writings that are collected in the INTEC Documents collection and in it is one of the pieces contributed by Eduardo: «The role of the Third World university professor». There he contemplates eight different facets of the university professor: teacher, educator, creator of knowledge, general disseminator of knowledge and values, adviser or consultant, intellectual, employee and exemplary citizen. I would like, with him, to refer to more than one, but today I must limit myself to the one that I want to highlight as the most important. I quote:

«(…) we have the facet of a public man, since the delicate functions of a university professor are the domain of society, seeing him forced to play the role of an exemplary citizen. The professor's conduct must be impeccable, even in his private life, since it would be difficult to believe in the veracity of the scientific assertions of those whose morality is questioned. Likewise, his opinions and positions regarding the problems that afflict society and their possible solutions must be clear and guiding, to deserve the respect that his wise position grants him ».

I have no doubt that I could refer to the biographies of professors Mendoza and Jiménez to find examples of many, if not all, of the facets of a university professor identified by Rector Latorre. But, how comforting and opportune that in Leticia and Raymundo we find living support for that facet of moral and civic behavior to which the quote refers! between what is said and proclaimed and what is done and practice, between what is apparent in public life and what is hidden in private, of so much simulation and post-truth, without forgetting that, as someone said, "post-truth it is the lie that we like».

A second reflection consists of austerity at INTEC.

INTEC has been an austere institution, aware that over time it has had to do a lot with few resources, which, moreover, will always be scarce because of how high its sights are and how ambitious its goals are. That quality of austere, in which the meaning of "sober, restrained, without excesses" is privileged, was practiced by INTEC, infusing it in many of the aspects of its work and being... in its clothing styles, in the functional simplicity of its offices , in the frugality in his toasts and his acts, and, thus, even in the very design and construction of his first buildings. This is something that we must not forget and what we must not renounce - and sometimes the fear assails me that some no longer sign up for that austerity or practice making the most of every minimum that is counted on.

It is the case that this austerity even extends to the granting of honors. At INTEC, for example, honoris causa do not proliferate... in its first 25 years it granted only one. Within this framework of austerity, having accumulated the sum of around 7 collaborators throughout our 50 years, emeritus status has been conferred only four times, two prior to this act, and the two that we confer today.

What tranquility and security result from knowing, in full conscience, that we grant the status of emeritus to Doña Leticia and Don Raymundo, both of them brimming with merits for us to honor by thus recognizing them!

Congratulations Doña Leticia and Don Raymundo, examples to emulate!

Congratulations INTEC for doing what we had to do today!

Thank you very much.