Coinciding with the doctor honoris causa conferment ceremony of Hispanists Dufour and Chastagnaret
Orihuela, 15 April 2014
Author of the historical connection that has perpetuated the rights of succession of the Pontifical University of Orihuela with the University of Alicante, Victorio Oliver has received this morning the highest distinction awarded by the academic institution, the Gold Medal, at a ceremony held in the auditorium of the old university of Orihuela. According to the University Registrar, Aranzazu Calzada, "for his loyalty, conviction and unconditional support in times of great political toughness", under the express request of two former university presidents, Antonio Gil Olcina, honorary university president and Andrés Pedreño.
Victorio Oliver was surprised with the award, which gives evidence of "the incalculable value of joint dialogue between the young university and the old diocese of Orihuela that celebrates its 450 years of life”. Oliver recalled the many moments of encounters between the two institutions and declared he will assume the medal "as a strong and everlasting bond“. "There was enthusiasm and new approaches”, he pointed out and the commitment of the emerging university to “take root”. It was the union of two knowledge-based friend Institutions, which were always working for the mankind.
Meanwhile, the University President, Manuel Palomar has appealed to the decisive intervention of Victorio Oliver to receive the inheritance of the former University of Orihuela that was brought to reality in June 1998 . Palomar recognised Victorio Oliver’s "freedom of opinion", "as a mark of a truly independent culture, such as the one the University should represent in a desirable society”. The UA president recalled the origins of the University of Alicante: "we are coevals of the recovered democracy, descendants of the effervescent history that was started with the founding of the Centre for University Studies in 1968, even though our historical background goes back to the seventeenth century’s Orihuela”, he said and confessed feeling "a legitimate pride in the achievements”. The president also recalled the symbolism of holding this medal awarding ceremony at Santo Domingo College, the historic birthplace of the University, where outstanding personalities like Miguel Hernández or Gabriel Miró studied.
The Alicante scientific background
The event coincided with the awarding ceremony of honorary degrees to two distinguished Hispano-French scholars, both from the University of Aix en Provence and both with a long history of academic and scientific connections with several departments of the University of Alicante: Gérard Dufour and Gérard Chastagnaret. They both have been outstanding due to the work done to narrowing the Spanish- French scientific ties and promoting interdisciplinary research . In this regard, Professor of Contemporary History at the UA and Dufour’s sponsor, Emilio La Parra, has attributed "the creation of a real European research space” to them.
Also, Gérard Dufour, who has described his relationship with Spain and its culture as a love affair, has confessed that it is a passion that comes from childhood”. If French people are my compatriots, Spaniards are my people”, he noted. Considered a world leader in the Spanish eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, he worked especially in church, society and state relations, and in the role played by press and sermons as means of generating public opinion. Recognised a specialist in the Age of Enlightenment, the Spanish Inquisition and liberalism, he was the creator of the concept of “Ecclesiastical Liberalism”. Emilio La Parra also stressed "the proverbial working ability, professional and personal honesty and his willingness of supporting students”.
Meanwhile, Gérard Chastagnaret, recognising his Hispanism is the result of "causality", is one of the international leaders in the Spanish nineteenth century, especially in regard to the study of mining and economic relations. Among his accomplishments, just as outlined by his sponsor at the ceremony, Dr. Armando Alberola, his role in the consolidation of economic history as a discipline, especially in Spain is outstanding.
Committed to science and society, Chastagnaret is remarked "by serving history", in whose research he was experientially immersed. With a commendable ability "to create historians”, as reported by Alberola, he is part of the scientific committee of the Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library. His ties to the UA date back several decades, up to the point that in 2011 he donated to the Faculty of Economics his Mining and Metallurgical Statistics Collection, published by the Ministry of Public Works since 1860, a crucial historical series for research on the Spanish economic history.
During his speech, Gérard Chastagnaret has appealed to multidisciplinary research, which he has admitted that he first discovered it with his first colleagues who became his friends afterwards, and strengthened during his time in front of Casa Velázquez . The new honorary doctor, who is a member of the French Legion of Honour, criticised the neoliberalism "that denies science and researchers in favour of financial returns. A country that does not innovate loses productivity and presence in the patents market, which is the market of intelligence”, he noted. The Hispanist scholar, who believes that advances in research fall on the youth, said that this recognition " is an implicit tribute to the perpetual renewal of research". "It is for those of us who were young and perform our best contributions at that stage”, he said.
In his speech the University president stated the extensive relationship that unites the new doctors and the University of Alicante and highlighted the role of their research activity, "which became a reference for the study of specific topics which could not be dealt with from within the country, especially during the Franco regime.
The ceremony was attended by the Bishop of the Diocese of Orihuela- Alicante, Jesus Murgui and Bishop Emeritus, Rafael Palmero, plus the president of the Alicante Provincial Council, Luisa Pastor; the Mayor of Orihuela, Monserrate Guillen, the Director-General for Universities, Higher Education and Science of Valencia region, José Miguel Saval and the Director of Casa Velázquez, Michel Bertrand, as well as several ecclesiastical, municipal, and academic representatives.
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