During the event, which was held without an audience, a minute's silence was observed for the victims of COVID-19 and a special remembrance was held for Olivia Manzanaro, a university worker who passed away at the beginning of the pandemic
The closing ceremony also served as a symbolic recognition of those teachers who have obtained the highest results in the evaluation of teaching quality
Alicante, Thursday 11 June 2020
The University of Alicante has celebrated the Academic year Closing Ceremony at an unusual empty Auditorium with a strong symbolic meaning. The ceremony was followed live on the Internet and which was only attended by the management team, the dean's team and two lecturers representing the teaching staff members who have received their recognition within the context of the first edition of the programme for the evaluation of the teaching activity.
President Manuel Palomar’s speech began with a minute's silence in memory of all the victims of COVID-19 and with a special remembrance for Olivia Manzanaro, a worker at the University of Alicante who passed away at the beginning of the pandemic. Similarly, he paid a small tribute of recognition to the university community, administration and services staff, teaching staff, research staff, students and other workers who have made possible the continuity of studies during these months, and are also managing to ensure the continuity of the academic year.
His speech was the culmination of an exceptional event caused by a situation that the whole of society is going through and it served to highlight the refusal of the Valencian government to grant the University of Alicante the studies of Medicine. Palomar explained that the current health crisis is a definitive warning for those who denied the implementation of the undergraduate degree in Medicine at the University of Alicante by arguing that there were already too many doctors in Spain. The UA President believes that it would be appropriate for the Valencian Government to analyse health issues in our region through a commission of independent experts, to assess the health system, health instrumentation, health personnel, the provision of individual and collective protective equipment, in short, health needs for the coming years.
UA President speech has also served to analyse the last three months at the University of Alicante and to outline the future of higher education, where he recognised that a blended teaching system would emerge as a result of this situation to start the next academic year with maximum guarantees. Also, other measures will be necessary to strengthen infrastructures, especially in the field of information and communication technologies, and to deploy technical and methodological training actions aimed at teachers, students and administration and service staff more directly related to the teaching activity.
Palomar stated that the University of Alicante has reasons to be proud of because, in adverse conditions, it has managed to continue its essential activities without serious issues, and is preparing to face the immediate future by implementing additional security measures. This way, our university will be ready to implement a blended system where those activities that are not recommended to be held on site by health authorities can b developed online. In the meantime, progressive accommodation of teachers and students in higher education and strengthening of technological tools will be encouraged.
The rector had words of gratitude to the University of Alicante research group members, who have not only continued with their tasks in difficult conditions but have also been involved in the fight against COVID-19 and to the Social Emergency Volunteering Programme, especially to the 974 UA volunteers who immediately decided to get involved to help alleviate the social crisis derived from the health crisis we are experiencing.
The speech also served to claim a recurrent topic in the Presiden's speeches in recent years in relation to investment in research and training as advanced countries do not invest in R&D+i because they are rich, as if it were an expendable luxury, but they are rich precisely because they invest in science and R&D.
Palomar also claimed the value of face-to-face teaching as online communication does not replace or improve face-to-face communication. He also added that face-to-face enables dialogue beyond the classroom, making the learning process and the development of personal links and social skills easier, as well as providing an extra dose of motivation and information through the exchange of knowledge. In this sense, the UA President also referred to the presence of the University of Alicante beyond the campus, as we are, by choice and history, a university deeply rooted in this territory, with venues and off-campus culture halls all over the province, with the only intention of promoting socio-cultural and economic progress in a province that needs, as much as water, to develop, retain and attract talent and innovation of all kinds.
We must make increasingly extensive and intensive use of digital tools, which have proven to be extremely useful in emergency situations, and which greatly supports teaching and learning. However, despite this uncertain reality and for the reasons mentioned above, we must focus our target on presence, as stated by the President in his closing speech for the 2019-2020 academic year at the University of Alicante.
The closing ceremony of the 2019-2020 academic year hosted the presentation of teaching awards to the lecturers who obtained the highest marks in the first edition of the programme for the evaluation of teaching activity. A total of 136 lecturers were awarded for their teaching excellence who, due to the exceptional circumstances, were honoured through an on line event.
All of them were represented by lecturer Núria Fernández, from the Department of Commercial Law and Procedural Law, and lecturer Augusto Beléndez, from the Department of Physics, Systems Engineering and Signal Theory.
During his speech, Vice President for Quality Assurance and Educational Innovation Francisco Torres explained that this was achieved after obtaining the highest scores by combining the four sources of information in the model: student opinion surveys, self-report on the teaching work itself, report from people with academic responsibility (the director of the department and the director of the centre), and a set of 22 indicators that seek to evaluate the activities related to teaching, such as the supervising final-year undergraduate projects and master's final projects, participating in examination boards, supervising PhD theses, having carried out mobility research stays, training courses, etc. In short, everything that involves teaching activity beyond just teaching in the class.
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