What is the feeling with which you have woken up after being elected rector?
I woke up trying to define responsibility for everything that had happened, I did an exercise in humility, I put myself in the shoes of Rafa Robaina and I remembered a lot about him and his team, really. Then I was thinking and reflecting on the different people who have accompanied me in the candidacy and how we were going to activate the transition team to be able to work from now on.
Would you have considered running for election if the teachers’ platform had not asked you to lead the change project?
It was not so much a call in the strict sense, I was part of this platform, the thing is that I never did it as a possible candidate, but when a couple of women already said no and the gazes began to turn towards me, then I had to make the decision, and I would make it again. Although I will also say that the campaign is too long, it is true that due to the Covid issue one cannot carry out a regular campaign, with more contact, but actually these four weeks have been very long.
“The traditional campaign is the personal call to each professor, and I did not do it because the agenda could do it, but I never thought I should do it in Medicine”
What was the most difficult thing about the campaign?
I believe that the debates, because somehow you have to face a colleague of yours and look for the weak points of his program, of his ideas, and this is the most difficult thing. Being an open space, which everyone sees, you have to be very measured and not disrespect. I always want to have a chivalrous, polite treatment and this created a certain tension in me, the moments before the debates I was really tense, then little by little I relaxed and that’s it, but at first it costs me a lot because I have never liked to fight or albeit politely.
What have been the keys that have led to victory in favor of your candidacy?
In the first place, the support of the Administration and Services staff (PAS), which is a very large group that has relatively little representation in the elections but is the basis of the University, supports the operation of the entire administrative machine of the institution. And then the support of the students.
Although the difference is small, the truth is that it has had less support than the other candidate from the teaching and research staff (PDI), and from the associates in Health Sciences. What is your reading on it?
We think that perhaps we would have more advantage in the PDI than we have had, although the difference between one candidacy and another is only one point, it has been very close. I believe that the traditional campaign in the University is the personal call, and perhaps I have left a little there, I have made many calls but I have not had time to do many more because the agenda could. But I never thought that I should do it in Medicine, because it is like my home, and there perhaps I sinned a bit of excessive confidence. On the other hand, more than 90% of the Health Sciences students, including those from Fuerteventura, have voted for our candidacy, which also indicates something.
“I have been delighted with all the congratulations, from the President of the Government to that of a friend shepherd of goats in Altos de Moya”
After listening to the different estates during the campaign, has the initial commitment that they sealed before a notary when they presented the electoral program changed anything?
With the group of students, with teachers, with young researchers and with the PAS we have established new commitments that complement the program. From the beginning we said that it was a program open to suggestions from the university community, and we will do so.
What are the strengths of your governance team?
The personal and professional quality of all its members, the people themselves, having such a strong and powerful research vice-chancellor led by Marisol Izquierdo, other vice-chancellors with women at the helm such as Cecilia Dorado or Suny Beerli with great work capacities, a management team of the house very committed and well known by the PAS, the role of David Sánchez has been fundamental, his capacity for dialogue and meeting with the different groups, Inmaculada González in the General Secretariat, Jin Taira in Culture … They are all women and men with a great capacity for work, dialogue, commitment, and we are sure to do a great job together, because we get along very well and we are very demanding among ourselves, we know that we will not stop meeting the objectives because each one we demand this fulfillment.
Now that the campaign is over, would you highlight or even adopt some of the other candidate’s proposals?
We have to analyze it these days. Now there is a transition team, and we will see what we have to do throughout the process. But hey, yesterday – on Thursday – Rafael Robaina called me right away, putting himself at our disposal and wishing us the best of luck. Of course, there will be elements of your program and aspects of your team members that will also be very useful for our program and for the future of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
How do you assess the low participation of the university community in these elections?
We feared a low participation of the students, because in many teachings the students do not even go to the University. If you tell a student from Arguineguín that he has to come to vote on Thursday, when he has not been to the faculty in a year or only has classes on Wednesdays, then most likely he will not come. And in reality this is what explains the difference in participation, that we have not been able to propose selections in accordance with the demands of the pandemic, and we have not been able to establish an efficient vote by mail, without such exaggerated advance notice, here you had to declining by mail vote six weeks before the election almost, it didn’t make sense. It would be necessary to have sufficient skill or procedures to request the vote by mail electronically and to be able to have received it electronically two or three days before on your computer, take it out, sign it with the determined documents and send it. This is what has possibly determined this low participation, especially in the group of students. The pandemic has also made participation difficult. And then, I think that despite the fact that we have spoken a lot in the press and on the networks, the truth is that the information has not finished reaching the university community, two days before the elections they asked us where to vote. Each of the members of the University should have received at home, I do not say the ballots, but if a census district information, where they had to vote. I believe that participation could have been strengthened with measures of this type.
“We have not been able to propose elections in accordance with the demands of the pandemic, and we have not been able to establish an efficient vote by mail”
What will be your first actions as rector of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria?
Well, we have a list of 25 actions for the first hundred days, now we are going to decide which ones to start with, but it is evident that there are aspects related to traffic jams in the Administration, teaching staff, the most urgent requests from students … everything This is going to fill our first hundred days and we are going to get to work on it and begin to establish relations with the Social Council, with the Government of the Canary Islands, with the Cabildo of Gran Canaria and those of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. We also want to visit the headquarters in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura and establish a dialogue with the rector of the University of La Laguna, who I know is trying to talk to me but can’t because my phone is permanently busy.
Specify some of those 25 actions from the Agenda for the first hundred days.
Carry out a diagnosis of the current situation and the resources available in the ULPGC, the location of the main bottlenecks in management; Proposal for the revision of the salary tables for the hiring of personnel charged to research projects; initiate the necessary procedures for the start-up of the joint committee for the review, update and improvement of the collective agreement of the PDI labor as well as the sectoral table of Canarian Universities; begin the review of the regulations related to the hiring of the PDI and create the commission for the review and monitoring of the ROA, to start working on the improvements to be able to implement them in the following academic year; initiate an analysis of the ULPGC PAS staff, in order to advance solutions for the problems, among others, of staffing the units and the stability of temporary and interim staff; to urge the Government of the Canary Islands to begin without delay the negotiations leading to the establishment of a new program contract; dialogue with the Social Council to analyze and propose modifications in the Progress and Permanence Regulations, and raise a proposal to reduce the additional fee in the enrollment of Teletraining studies …
On March 5 will be the definitive proclamation as rector by the Central Electoral Board, when will the act of investiture?
We still have to decide this, but I think it would surely be next week.
“It was a very long campaign and the most difficult thing was having to face a teammate and look for the weak points of his program, of his ideas”
Of the congratulations you have received so far, which ones would you highlight?
It is bad for me to say it because I have not yet been able to enter social networks, and in these first hours I have received more than 600 WhatsApp, and I have not yet had the ability to see and respond to all of them. But of course all the congratulations have made me excited, from that of the President of the Government, the Vice President, the Minister of Health and the director of the Canary Islands Health Service, to that of a shepherd friend who has a lot of goats in Los Altos de Moya and that he has sent me a text message congratulating me. I have a weekend dedicated to responding and thanking many people’s shows of support. I also appreciate the work that all the media have done, and all the people who stop me on the street and congratulate us. All this support gives us even greater responsibility, we have aroused interest, we have made society participate in this debate at the University, and now it is about responding to expectations, without magic wands but with firm decisions.
What message would you like to send as the new rector, the fifth of the ULPGC, to the university community?
I would like to thank your participation and behavior in these elections, understand that despite the fact that there were two candidates, for me the university community is only one and therefore we are all going to walk together to place the ULPGC in a privileged position, in the which we are all proud of, and this is going to be a difficult task, but we are sure to achieve it in the coming years. I would tell them to have a lot of confidence in this project because little by little we will see results.